River of Flesh and Other Stories: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction

River of Flesh and Other Stories: The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction

Ruchira Gupta

Edited By

Ruchira Gupta


Fiction, Short Stories


Paperback with flaps


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(Paperback with flaps | ISBN 9789385755583 | 272 pages | January 2016)


River of Flesh and Other Stories brings together twenty-one stories about trafficked and prostituted women by some of India’s most celebrated writers—Amrita Pritam, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Indira Goswami, Ismat Chughtai, J. P. Das, Kamala Das, Kamleshwar, Krishan Chander, Munshi Premchand, Nabendu Ghosh, Qurratulain Hyder, Saadat Hasan Manto and Siddique Alam, among others.

Jugnu, in Kamleshwar’s ‘River of Flesh’ (‘Maas ka Darya’)—stares at a lifetime of servitude as age and disease take hold; Ismat Chughtai creates the unforgettable character of Lajo in ‘The Housewife’, a carefree young woman who must conform to society’s idea of decency, or risk being branded a whore; in ‘Heeng-Kochuri’, by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, a boy growing up near a red-light area discovers the adult world of patrons, connoisseurs and customers—as well as savouries offered to young boys as bribe; and in Manisha Kulshrestha’s ‘Kalindi’, a son looks in through a window and his life falls to pieces around him.

An unprecedented anthology—for its subject, as well as for the range of authors and translators who are part of it—River of Flesh and Other Stories offers a harsh indictment of this practice of human slavery, too often justified—and occasionally glorified—as the ‘world’s oldest profession’.


‘Across regions, religions, and fourteen languages, these stories uniformly reveal the entrenched inequalities that force women into prostitution, their desire to liberate themselves, the demoralizing conditions that they are forced to endure and the remarkable strength with which they transcend their exploitation—sometimes through death and murder and sometimes through hope and fortitude.’—Gloria Steinem

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About the author

Ruchira Gupta

Ruchira Gupta is a writer, feminist campaigner, professor at New York University and founder of the anti-sex-trafficking organization, Apne Aap Women Worldwide. She won the Clinton Global Citizen award in 2009, the Sera Bangali Award in 2012 and an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism in 1996. She has helped more than twenty thousand girls and […]

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