The fourteen stories in this volume are representative of some of the most sensitive work produced in the bhashas. The languages featured here are Asomiya, Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
Indian Review of Books
… the final product is a rich tapestry of present-day India, woven with the intricate and diverse patterns that constitute the fabric of this country, not necessarily echoing a oneness of a mythical commonality but preserving the unique qualities that make up the fibre of a specific language.
The themes are varied and wide-ranging – feminist, ageist, revolutionary, dalit …
For the very first time Katha has given us the pleasure of reading a translation of the oral literature – orature as it is called nowadays – of the Kunkna Dangi Adivasis ... from Gujarat. “The Tale of Raja Manasinha and Rani Salavan” narrated originally by Dahyabhai Vadhu is a wonderful tale of princes and princesses and their adventures, so beautifully woven and so creatively translated that the very beginning enchants us … A must read for all those stuck on Disney tales – here’s something so refreshing, and at the same time so familiar, that it leaves us begging for more.
This is but an appetizer of what this volume actually contains. It is a collection that is rewarding in its choice of stories, the wide variety of language it sources, not to mention the wonderful readability it sustains, without in any way losing the individual character of each specific language literature. Go out and get it!
– N Kamala
(Sunday, January 17, 1999)
Over the past eight years, the Katha Prize Stories series have undoubtedly more than established the importance of regional fiction. Its publishers can justifiably take credit for creating a growing interest in regional literature.
Now, the Katha team has brought out another volume, the new Katha Prize Stories volume, that strays clear of the beaten track and establishes the immense talent waiting to explode on the literary horizon. It explores, for the first time, a range of ideas – from the man-woman relationship, folk literature of dalit sentiments and the feminist viewpoint.
Some of the stories leave you with a haunting feeling, while some shock you into accepting the harsh realities of life. Still others talk about compassion. Each story is a short journey but leaves one asking for more.
Oral literature has always been part of India’s culture but the tradition is gradually fading away. In an attempt to retain some of these folk traditions and dialects, Katha has gone through a process that few can sustain. It has established that popular language literature is still alive and has takers. Unfortunately, translations have to be most often in English.
Jayant Bhendre’s story “May We Be the Way the Lord Meant Us to be,” is a chilling account of urban terrorism. The arms of the mafiosi are long and through his seemingly simple story about a family in Mumbai, he shows the extent to which innocent lives are destroyed by terrorism.
S Diwaker with “Who Knows How to Live” talks about the cross that a family bears every generation.
The most ambitious translation is the story of Raja Manasinha and Rani Salavan, which was sung by the Kunkna Dangi Adivasis of Gujrat and translated from that dialect into Gujarati by Dayabhai Vadhu, a Kunkna tribal himself … one thing that stands out is the rich cultural heritage of the tribe.
- Suchitra Behal
(January 24, 1999)
The vibrancy and vigour of an oral narrative, so closely rooted in the soil, are never dissipated even as the readers are transported into exotic kingdoms and heavenly courts. Sheer lyricism emanates out of every twist and turn of the tale, despite its iron framework of rules, motifs and established orders. Katha’s initiative is particularly praiseworthy because it gives to the readers a piece of little tradition at a time, when the new generation is looking westward for inspiration.
Inclusion of an oral folk story is just one among many “firsts” achieved by Katha this year. For the first time a Maithili story is included ...
… the Volume 8 is a winner, leaving very little scope for caviling.
Fourteen short stories, culled from thirteen Indian languages, present a breathtaking range of forms and content. Despite the diversity of locales and setting – urban, rural, ethereal, cross-border – trademark India is never to be missed in each one of them. The skirmishes between castes and communities, subjugation of the downtrodden, the loneliness and angst of the aged, fiendish designs of the political manipulator, survival of humanism even in the heart of darkness – the frames which build the social mosaic of present-day India run through the anthology. The multiplicity of approaches to storytelling which characterize this volume, establishes the short story as the most promising and popular genre in almost all the regions …
The process of selection of these stories is a year-long grind, involving myriad of imaginative minds. No wonder, it showcases the best that Indian literature has to offer in 1997. Barring a few patches like Kashmir, North East other than Assam, the whole Indian society finds expression in these stories. If the editor’s note be our guide, with the projects in hand, these parts will soon be mirrored in the future volumes. Given the quality of the present stories, that is something to look forward to.
– Chinmay Kumar Hota
The Express Magazine
(December 27, 1998)
Fourteen different ways of looking at India. All authentic, all insightful, all comprehensible. And though it’s the eighth volume in as many years, Katha has taken many more turns to get at the heart of the ethos it relives. There’s no denouement in the process, only more of sharing of the rich diversity of our storytelling experiences.
India comes alive in eminently readable translations for the benefit of the English reader. The collection is disturbing, heartwarming, nostalgic, resigned, hopeful, and full of despair by turns. If the quality of short stories selected for translation is anything to go by, Indian fiction in its various regional flavours seems to be doing just fine. And for the first time, Katha also includes an oral fable of the Kunkna Dangi Adivasis of Gujarat …
Those of us who’re tired of poorly edited and badly proofed Indian publications in English will particularly find Katha Prize Stories a delight. Read it.
(January 26, 1999)
In a country like India, both enriched and fractured by its multilinguality, Katha’s latest volume of prize stories-in-translation is a generous offering …
… there are moments of pure joy … perhaps the loveliest of which is Sriramana’s “Mithunam” translated by Syamala Kullury …
[One should approach the volume with] a desire to taste varied sensibilities and styles ...
(January 25, 1999)
Like Katha’s previous volumes, this one puts together from regional languages stories with a fascinating range of idea and topics. Fourteen stories explore diverse issues yet an underlying theme, that of survival, can be detected. Survival is explored through the dynamics of human relationship, be it a relationship between parents and children or between strangers. Another important thematic intervention is that of survival in the situation of urban violence. A novel attempt has been made in this volume: a written presentation of a living oral tradition from Gujarat. This is an interesting and important addition as it records for posterity traditions, which may otherwise die ...
Katha has brought the English-reading audience closer to regional language literature. One hopes this will eventually make international readers too focus on Indian literature beyond Indo-Anglian writing.
– Urmi A Goswami
Mr A N Sehgal said Katha was a boon as it encouraged creativity in language. Katha was important since it helped people to appreciate literature written in different languages. He also said that whole-hearted efforts should be made to eradicate illiteracy as the nation approached the new millennium.
The Katha awards instituted eight years ago present a fascinating range of ideas and topics – philosophical questions, larger existential problems, social values, man-woman relationship and most elusive rasas – hasya and sringara.
These short stories also present a varied range of style from folk to oral literature, subaltern, feminist and experimental writings. The stories give an insight, where the media reports do not fully present the picture of real problems, and try to find a solution.
Arupa Patangia Kalita
Mohinder Singh Sarna
Naveen Kumar Naithani
Kunkna Dangi Adivasis
Dilip Kumar Ganguli
Indu Ashok Gersappe
S N A Chary
The Nominating Editors & Journals
Assamese: Arup Kumar Dutta (Gariyoshi)
Bangla: Debes Ray (Desh)
Telugu: Amarendra Dasari (Andhra Bhoomi)
Marathi: Usha Tambe (Saptahik Sakal)
Maithili: Udaya Narayana Singh (Katha Disha)
Konkani: M L Sardessai (Jaag)
Gujarati: Ganesh Devy (Gadyaparva) - originally an oral tale, among Kunkna Dangi Adivasis
Hindi: Pankaj Bisht (Katha Desh)
Kannada: Vaidehi (Sudha)
Malayalam: Paul Zacharia (Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi Daily)
Tamil: Indira Parthasarathy (Navina Virutcham, Dalit)
Urdu: Sara Rai (Dastak)
Punjabi: Sutinder Singh Noor (Aarsee)
Rajasthani: Malashri Lal (Rajasthan Patrika)
Cover Design: Taposhi Ghoshal
Colours: Arvinder Chawla
Logo Design: Crowquill
Category: Katha Prize Stories
Statistics: 5.5" x 8" 224 pages
ISBN 81-85586-84-5 [PB]
Price: Rs 250 [India and the subcontinent only]