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VK Shukla's short story collection now in English

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
A collection of short stories by noted Hindi writer Vinod Kumar Shukla which deal with people in small-town India, their lives and experiences is now available in English.
"Blue Is Like Blue" is billed by publishers HarperCollins India as the first-ever translation of Shukla's short stories into English.
Translators Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai bring out the genius of Shukla, who is regarded the finest living writer in Hindi and one of the few truly original imaginations in world literature. Shukla has been quietly forging his own idiosyncratic path away from the public gaze in Raipur in Chhattisgarh.
The characters in these stories live in rented accommodation, often in single rooms, where one electric bulb does for light. When the light dims because of low voltage, it is like air escaping from a punctured bicycle tube. There's a nail to hang clothes from and a wall-to-wall string for the washing.
When the clothes are dry, the character places the carefully folded shirt under a pillow and lies down to sleep. Money is a concern, but the bazaar is the place to go and spend time in, especially if the character has nothing to buy.
The fear that you may be overcharged accompanies every transaction, but joy is not entirely absent.
"Blue Is Like Blue" also includes Shukla's memoir "Old Veranda", which sheds light on the childhood and influences of this famously reclusive writer and has this unforgettable scene - a bus bound for Rajnandgaon, the city of his birth, travelling 'through the air at great speed'.
According to the translators, Shukla is a frugal storyteller; he can make, and make do, with very little.
"They also say that it is not only thoughts hidden behind other thoughts that Shukla reveals. His characters have hidden sides to them. They act in unpredictable ways and do the opposite of what we expect them to do. It takes the reader by surprise as much as it does the characters themselves," they say.
They also say that strange things happen in Shukla's fiction.
"The utterly mundane and the humdrum are constantly being transformed into the unexpected and the marvellous. In the mundane lies also the possibility of happiness," they say.
To read him is to read not a fictionalised version of what is already stencilled on the wall, but wwhat is constantly being inscribed in an erased from the margins of our consciousness, they say.
Shukla's first collection of poems, the 20-page "Lagbhag Jai Hind", was published in 1971, followed by "Vah Aadmi Chala Gaya Naya Garam Coat Pehankar Vichar Ki Tarah" in 1981.
His first novel, "Naukar Ki Kameez", was published in 1979 and made into a film by Mani Kaul. In 1999, Shukla received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel "Deewar Mein Ek Khidki Rehti Thi".

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First Published: Jun 27 2019 | 2:30 PM IST

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