In these calm stories of everyday life, Vinod Kumar Shukla elevates the small to the sublime
The Hindi writer’s early short stories are now available in supremely controlled English translations by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai.
Vinod Kumar Shukla is a writer of great and rare courage. He dares to be with what is . Through that he enters, or rather hovers, around the human soul manifested in its strange dailyness. “Jainath had stretched out his arms on the lawn and clutched the grass in his fists as though he was mercilessly pulling his son’s hair. But he did not have a son. He was staring at the sky without blinking.” Small gestures and actions are revelations in a Shukla story. But the revelations open only up to a point. They never reach a centre – rather, they disperse again, always elusive. Yet they are never consciously mysterious, they are unspeakably honest to life. No questions asked In India where the context of social change or its opposite of mythology and the larger-than-life seem to dominate, Shukla walks away from both these inheritances and reaches his own place of the utterly ordinary. Standing there he creates the isness of his small town people without idealising them. They are, simply, human in very human circumstances. What this also means is that Shukla’s stories are almost anti-psychological. Rarely is it possible to fully comprehend what motivates the actions or gestures of his characters. People do not ask questions they can ask,.. Read more