Translated from Telugu
Gogu Shyamala’s stories dissolve borders as they work their magic on orthodox forms of realism, psychic allegory and political fable. Whether she is describing the setting sun or the way people are gathered at a village council like ‘thickly strewn grain on the threshing floor’, the varied rhythms of a dalit drum or a young woman astride her favorite buffalo, Shyamala walks us through a world that is at once particular and small, and simultaneously universal.
Set in the madiga quarter of a Telangana village, the stories spotlight different settings, events and experiences, and offer new propositions on how to see, think and be touched by life in that world. There is a laugh lurking around every other corner as the narrative picks an adroit step past the grandiose authority of earlier versions of such places and their people—romantic, gandhian, administrative—and the idiom in which they spoke. These stories overturn the usual agendas of exit—from the village, from madiga culture, from these little communities—to hold this life up as one of promise for everyone.
With her intensely beautiful and sharply political writing, Shyamala makes a clean break with the tales of oppression and misery decreed the true subject of dalit writing.
Gogu Shyamala is a senior fellow at the Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hyderabad. She has documented and edited dalit women’s writings in Telugu.
‘Possesses an astonishing clarity of visual spectacle and sensory delight as they portray the lives of the village’—DNA
‘Shyamala avoids a bleakness of tone while leaving alive the possibilities of violence is a tribute to her mastery over the short story form’—Mint Lounge
‘Gogu Shyamala uses her expressive prose to convert caste and gender oppression into stories about human dignity’—Outlook
‘The stories are not an accumulation of horrors and tears, but the untold story of the invisible people of rural Telangana. These are also stories of their resilience and their ability to move on’—The Indian Express
‘…warm, sensuous images of a world far removed from our garbage-strewn, traffic-choked and neon-lit cities’—Outlook
‘Gogu Shyamala’s luminous, moving and funny prose is almost deceptive in its lightness of touch, and deftness of language’—Tehelka
‘These stories do more than make the margin the centre; they make the margin a place of vivid enchantments, rendered with idiomatic vitality’—Open
‘Shyamala’s greatest achievement is the note of humour and lightness that sounds through this collection’—Wall Street Journal–Mint