An elegy to Kolleru, one of India's largest freshwater lakes located in Andhra Pradesh, Akkineni Kutumbarao's novel Kolleti Jadalu vividly brings alive the villages and people whose lives are woven inseparably with the lake. Swamped by water, this is the precarious life-world of a people in a constant struggle to survive in an environment that is nurturing and bountiful, yet unpredictable and hostile.
The story of the lake and the people whose lives and hopes, joys and sorrows depend on it is told through the eyes of five-year-old Seenu. With dry humour, gentle irony and profound human empathy, Kutumbarao details a little-known and rich world, brutally destroyed as the market ultimately triumphs over nature. Softly Dies a Lake is at once memory, history, tribute, lament, apology and penance; to a childhood, to a lake, to a people, to a vital but lost way of life.
The translation by veteran feminist rights activist and writer, Vasanth Kannabiran, seamlessly brings to us the world of Kolleru in all its transient beauty. This memoir reminds us of ecology's mantra—everything is connected—and is a must-read for all lovers of literature and everyone who feels responsible for their only home: the earth.
Akkineni Kutumbarao is a reputed Telugu film director, producer and writer. His work has won several awards, including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film for Bhadram Koduko (1992), directed by him.
Vasanth Kannabiran is a veteran civil and women's rights activist, educationist and writer. Her published works include Taken at the Flood: A Memoir of a Political Life (2020) and A Grief to Bury: Memories of Love, Work and Loss (2011).
Kalpana Kannabiran teaches and writes on law and society, human rights, and law and literature from an insurgent feminist perspective. She is the author of Tools of Justice: Non-Discrimination and the Indian Constitution (2012), and co-editor of Dakshinayana: Selections from Telugu Literature (forthcoming from Orient BlackSwan).