Monday, September 23, 2019

Select Dalit Writers

Omprakash Valmiki:

Born in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Valmiki’s autobiography “Joothan” is one of his most popular books. He is also the author of poetry collections such as “Sadiyon ka Santap” and “Bas Bahut ho Chuka” and short story collections such as “Salam” and “Ghuspaithiye”.

Bama

Born in a family of agricultural labourers, Bama Faustina Soosairaj donned many hats before she finally became a writer. She used to write poetry in college, but became a schoolteacher and a nun later to educate Dalit girls. It was after leaving the seminary in 1992 that she went back to serious writing. The semi-fictional autobiographical novel “Karukku” (1992) is her most famous work, although she has written more novels and short story collections since then. Originally written in the Tamil dialect she used to speak as a child, the novel created quite a stir, with Bama being prohibited from entering her village for seven months. When the novel was finally translated into English in 1998, Bama went on to win the Crossword Book Award in 2000.

Daya Pawar:

Born Dagdu Maruti Pawar, his searing autobiography “Baluta” became a sensation in the world of Marathi literature. Pawar published his first poemin “Asmitadarsh” in 1967. Both “Kondvada”, his first collection of poems, and “Baluta” were awarded by the Maharashtra government. Apart from poetry, Pawar published two collections of essays, a book of short stories, and the screenplay for Jabbar Patel’s movie “Dr Ambedkar”. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1990.

Ravikumar:

The co-founder of Navayana, a publishing house that focuses on issues of caste, he has founded many little magazines. He edited The Oxford India Anthology of Tamil Dalit Writing, and edited and contributed to “Waking is Another Dream”, an anthology of poetry on the Eelam genocide.  “Venmous Touch: Notes on Caste, Culture and Politics” is a collection of his non-fiction work.

Ajay Navaria

An assistant professor in the Department of Hindi at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, Navaria is a prominent face in Hindi literature. He has written two short story collections, “Patkatha aur Anya Kahaniyan (The Sript and Other Stories)” and “Yes, Sir”, and the novel “Udhar ke Log (People From the Other Side)”. “Unclaimed Terrain”, an English translation of his short stories was featured in a Guardian list of best books in 2013.

Namdeo Dhasal

Perhaps the most iconic name in the world of Marathi poetry, Dhasal is also the most recognisable face of the Dalit Panthers, an organisation formed along the lines of the Black Panther movement in the United States.

Poet and critic Dilip Chitre described his first collection of poetry “Golpitha” (1972) thus: “It reveals whatever others would strive to shove under the carpet of poetry. This is my considered opinion more than three decades after its publication and I had no hesitation in writing that Namdeo’s poetry, from that outstanding start, is Nobel Laureate material.”

Dhasal was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999. In 2004, the Sahitya Akademi, while celebrating its Golden Jubilee, awardedhim its Golden Jubilee Life Time Achievement Award.

Meena Kandasamy

Translated into 18 languages, she is one of most famous feminist writers in India, who doubles as an activist. She is the author of two collections of poetry, “Touch” and “Ms. Militancy”, the critically acclaimed novel “The Gypsy Goddess” and most recently “A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife”.

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