By Daya Parwar
Translated by Jerry Pinto
The first ever autobiography published in Marathi, Baluta (1978) is an honest, eye-opening book on the experiences of the Dalit community. Daya Pawar opens up on the prevalent caste violence and untouchability in Maharashtra during the 1940-50s and accurately illustrates life in Maharashtra’s villages and Mumbai’s chawls and slums. Pawar shares his moments of vulnerability, failure, and betrayal in this book that shocked Marathi readers and soon became a modern classic widely read in the Indian literary world.
Simply googling ‘caste violence news’ reveals the numerous attacks on the Dalit community in our ‘progressive’ country. It is in today’s times that it is even more imperative to educate oneself on what it means to be marginalised and Baluta forces its readers to walk a mile in its author’s shoes.
About the Author
Daya Pawar (1935-1996) is known for his contributions to the gamut of Dalit literature. He was awarded the Maharashtra Government Award for literature for his poetry collection Kondvada and a second time for his autobiography Baluta. He is also known for Chavdi and Dalit Jaanivaa, essay collections by him on Dalit culture. In 1990, he received the Padma Shri Award.
By VS Khandekar
Translated by YP Kulkarni
Based on the Mahabharatha character Yayati, this Marathi novel is a story of insatiable lust. It is the story of a noble ruler who was even respected by The King of Gods, Indra. Married to the cunning and beautiful Devyani but in love with her maid Sharmishtha, Yayati goes on a quest for carnal pleasure, even exchanging his old age for his son’s youth.
An exploration of human tendencies and the intersection between individual and social existences, Yayati presents to us a universal tale on the consequences of acting upon certain tendencies.
The novel is probably best summarised by its concluding lines: “Oh man, desire is never satisfied by indulgence. Like the sacrificial fire, it ever grows with every offering.” VS Khandekar was awarded the prestigious Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi awards for this novel.
About the Author
Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar (1898-1976) is one of the greatest Marathi authors. He worked as a teacher and wrote with the aim of bringing happiness to his readers and reducing inequality amongst people. A former President of the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, he was a Fellow of Sahitya Akademi. In 1968, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to literature. Khandekar is best known for his magnum opus Yayati.
Saat Sakkam Trechalis
By Kiran Nagarkar
Translated by Shubha Slee
Saat Sakkam Trechalis (meaning ‘seven sixes are forty-three’) is an exercise in the exploration of the complexities of the human psyche. It traces the stream of consciousness of the narrator-protagonist Kushank as he introspects, retrospects, and occasionally addresses his lady-friend “you.” He shares his life from his failed romances to his childhood with the readers. Called the “quintessence of disjuncture” by Nagarkar himself, the novel has a shifting narrative with no chronology. The novel, known for its dark and pessimistic take on life, made Nagarkar the enfant terrible of Marathi literature.
Saat Sakkam Trechalis remains a must-read for its unique storytelling and manipulation of language.
About the Author
Kiran Nagarkar is a Marathi and English writer infamous for his deviations from literary conventions. An enthusiastic reader of Newsweek and Time, he wrote his first short story while studying at Fergusson College. In 2001, he was awarded a Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Cuckold. His bibliography includes the controversial works Bedtime Story (1978) and Ravan and Eddie (1994). The city of Munich has awarded him a scholarship and he has even received a Rockefeller Grant.