The Man Who Walked Backwards and Other Stories
S. Ramakrishnan, Translated from the original Tamil by Prabha Sridevan
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

The Man Who Walked Backwards and Other Stories is an anthology of eighteen short stories by S. Ramakrishnan, the popular and critically acclaimed master of modern Tamil writing.

The stories in this collection are a celebration of eccentricities: they feature characters who defy conventions, and who listen to their inner selves instead of conforming to familial and societal norms. There is the mother who swims endlessly to escape domesticity and abuse; an exceptional father and husband who leaves on a quest for selfhood; the thief who heals dogs and trees; the government clerk who goes around town counting pigeons; the man who walks only backwards; the estate-owner who builds a house with a hundred windows on a hilltop, but not for anyone to live in; the father and the son who measure rain; the forgotten poet who is despised by his own family; and many others whom the world does not understand.

In Ramakrishnan’s own words, ‘The people in my stories do not face big challenges, they do not seek big victories. They are the dice that Time plays with.’

In this lively English translation by Prabha Sridevan that highlights the evocative nature of Ramakrishnan’s writings, the stories remind us that in the midst of the real and the everyday, there is place for myth and magic as well. All readers will find this book an enriching experience.

The Author
S. Ramakrishnan is an influential writer of modern Tamil literature. A prolific author, his oeuvre includes ten novels, twenty collections of short stories, sixty collections of articles, twenty books for children, three books of translation and nine plays. Among the many awards he has received are the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2018, the Tagore Literary Award for his novel Yamam, Iyal Award, Maxim Gorky Award and Periyar Award. His writings have been translated and published in English, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada and French.

The Translator
Prabha Sridevan was Judge of the Madras High Court (2000–2010) and Chairperson of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (2011–2013). She has judged crucial cases related to freedom of speech, gender equality, housework and women’s labour, and patenting and licensing of pharmaceutical drugs. As a translator, her published works include Seeing in the Dark (2015), Echoes of the Veena and Other Stories (2019) which won the Valley of Words Translation Award, Meeran’s Stories (2021), Essays of U Ve Sa (cotranslated with Pradeep Chakravarthy) (2022), R. Chudamani (Makers of Indian Literature Series) and If There Is a God and Other Stories (2022).

Author’s Note
Translator’s Note

Amma’s Last Swim
No One Like Appa
The Dolls with No Eyebrows
Gandhi on Their Shoulders
Gauthama’s Dreams
The Man Who Walked Backwards
Fire Never Forgets
A Beast Called Home
The Smell of Kerosene
The House Where No One Lived
The Death of Thidiyan
The Rain Diary
The Pigeons Flew into His Soul
The Price of an Angel’s Wings
No Ordinary Thief
In Search of Gandhi
Remember, You Are Thirty-Four Now

Book Review | Published in the Asian Review of Books, 5 November 2023.
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