Fiction, Short Stories
(Hardback| ISBN 9789386702920 | 152pp | July 2018)
Baburao Bagul’s debut collection of short stories, Jevha Mi Jaat Chorli Hoti (1963), revolutionized not only Dalit but all Marathi as well as Indian literature, bringing to it raw energy and a radical realism—a refusal to understate or dress up gritty, brutal reality.
Through the lives of people on the margins—rebellious youth and migrants, sex workers and street vendors, slum-dwellers and gangsters—Bagul exposed the pain, horror and rage of the Dalit experience. The unnamed young protagonist of the title story risks his life and job, and conceals his caste from his fellow workers in the hope of bringing about social change. Damu, the village Mahar, demands the right to perform a religious masque—a preserve of the upper castes—thus disrupting the village order. Jaichand Rathod revolts against his parents’ wishes and refuses to take up the caste-enforced task of manual scavenging. Years of repressed maternal love begins to resurface when, in the face of death, Banoo calls out to her estranged son. And behind Savitri’s desire for revenge lies the gruesome pain she suffered at the hands of her husband.
Utterly unsparing in its depiction of the vicious and inhumane centuries-old caste system, this landmark book is now finally available in English, in a brilliant new translation by the award-winning author and translator Jerry Pinto.
‘Jevha Mi Jaat Chorli Hoti (When I Hid My Caste) was hailed as “the epic of Dalits”. These brilliant stories gave Dalits the strength to face the painful and humiliating experiences of their wretched lives...’—K Satyanarayana and Susie Tharu
‘[Baburao Bagul] knocked readers off their feet by the sheer elemental force of his stories. But, more importantly, he liberated younger Dalit writers from the shackles of literary Marathi… They say translation gives a classic an afterlife. Jerry Pinto’s fluent, empathetic translation has done that for this classic.’—Shanta Gokhale