The Almond Flowers and Other Stories, a collection of thirteen short stories by Anil Gharai in translation, highlights the experiences of marginalisation and oppression of communities at the periphery of our society. Set in coastal Bengal, Odisha and the forest kingdom of southwest Bengal, Anil Gharai’s fiction provides an authentic documentation of Dalit voices from the eastern part of the nation.
Exploring themes of injustice, destitution, resilience, and the desire for love and for revenge, these stories centre on the lives of the most disempowered and vulnerable, and give a voice to a hitherto invisible section of society. In these poignant stories, we meet a Banjara girl who refuses to accept the sexual abuse of the women of her community by the police; a poor midwife faced with an opportunity to avenge her husband’s murder by an upper-class landowner; an outcast leper who finds himself shunned at his rich son’s wedding; and in the titular story, an old, decrepit father who, in his struggle to earn a livelihood, unknowingly brings home danger that ruins his young daughter’s hope for a better life.
A visceral portrayal of the experiences of being a Dalit, these stories question the development paradigm by focusing on the heart of underdevelopment. Translated by Anuradha Sen and Arun Pramanik and edited by Indranil Acharya, this collection offers a breadth of vision reminiscent of the works of Mahasweta Devi.
Anil Gharai (1957–2014) was a writer from Midnapore, West Bengal. He has authored seventy-four books and many of his stories and novels focus on the life of the marginalised in rural Bengal. For his outstanding work in Bangla prose fiction, he has received awards such as Sanskriti Puraskar, Bharat Excellency Award, Tarasankar Puraskar, Sopan Sahitya Puraskar, Bankim Puraskar and many others. His major works are Nunbari, Dourbogarar Upakhyan, Ananta Draghima and Parijan o Onyanno Golpo.
Indranil Acharya is Professor and Head of the Department of English, Vidyasagar University, West Bengal. He has authored, edited, and translated several books and is the Chief Editor of Janajati Darpan, an international multilingual series on indigenous studies.
Anuradha Sen is a translator and teacher based in Kharagpur, West Bengal. She graduated from the University of Calcutta and completed her Masters from Vidyasagar University. She translates Dalit literature from Bangla to English.
Arun Pramanik is Assistant Professor of English at Gour Mahavidyalaya, affiliated to the University of Gour Banga, Malda, West Bengal. His essays and translations have been published in various academic journals and edited volumes.
Sayantan Dasgupta teaches Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University and is the co-ordinator of the Centre for Translation of Indian Literatures. He is also a member of Advisory Board (English), Sahitya Akademi.
The Eternal Bond
The Almond Flowers