Sharankumar Limbale’s stories open up a brutal and cruel world conditioned and sanctioned by the caste system. They present an account of Dalit lives in post-independence India, with the Ambedkarite movement, and the schisms within it, as a prominent backdrop. The anti-Dalit logic of reserved constituencies, the predicament of Dalit writing, the fallout of communal violence for those at the margins, the implications of festivals like Ganapati, the contradictions of job reservations, the horrors of the institution of schooling; family, childhood, friendships, love, sexuality—all take on dark new hues. They are also a rare and moving account of Dalit masculinity today.
‘Dalit Brahmin’ is a sarcastic epithet for the urban, educated Dalit middle class who look down upon their own folk much as the brahmins do, and seek to distance themselves from their caste identity. Yet, it is also this class which bears the responsibility of emancipating the Dalit masses from the chains of caste.
The stories, told in the first or third person, speak directly to the reader and carry the authority of testimony. Each story sets out to correct, to inform, and to illuminate the changing lives of rural and small-town Dalits. Unsettling and exuding a stark raw power, these vibrant cameos—seamlessly translated by Priya Adarkar—comfortably bridge the difficult divides between imaginative literature, autobiographical fiction and documentary narrative.
A must read for all those who love India and Indian literature.
Sharankumar Limbale is one of Maharashtra’s foremost writer-activists, and the author of more than forty works, including novels, poetry, short stories, and essays. Best known for his autobiography Akkarmashi, his other works include Tale of Untouchables (2017), White Paper (2017), and Hindu (2010); Towards an Aesthetics of Dalit Literature (2004) was the first critical work by an eminent Dalit writer to appear in English.
Priya Adarkar is a writer and translator of repute. She has translated the works of iconic Marathi writers and playwrights such as Vijay Tendulkar, Silence! The Court is in Session (1979) and three other plays; Satish Alekar, Mickey and the Memsahib, in Collected Plays of Satish Alekar (2010); and Vishnubhat Godse, Adventures of a Brahmin Priest: My Travels in the 1857 Rebellion (2014).
Anand Teltumbde is an award-winning bilingual writer, civil rights activist and political analyst who writes extensively on issues relating to peoples’ movements and Dalits. He is the author of several books including The Persistence of Caste: The Khairlanji Murders and India’s Hidden Apartheid (2010); Dalits: Past Present and Future (2016); Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt (2016); and Scripting the Change: Selected Writings of Anuradha Ghandy (2012).