The Shehnai Virtuoso and Other Stories by Dhumketu

First substantive translation of the Gujarati short story pioneer, Dhumketu (US Version)

Cover Design: Harshad Marathe

COMING

MAY 03, 2022

from

DEEP VELLUM PUBLISHING

Cover Design: Harshad Marathe

More Details for the US Version Coming Soon

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK (Indian version, which was out in October 2020 with HarperCollins India):

“. . . powerful plots, which Dhumketu handles with sensitivity and with a sense of the subtly moving that is never mawkish. [ . . .] the English translation is reasonably fast-paced and eminently accessible. [. . .] This collection is an essential read.” ~Hindustan Times

“The translator of this collection, Jenny Bhatt, contextualizes his work in the introduction while providing insightful details about his craft.” ~The Hindu

“The mellifluous translation is as close as one can get to Dhumketu’s original [. . .] well-informed choices for pivotal words open new possibilities of re-readings for a Gujarati reader. Rendering terms and expressions, idioms, and traditions of a bygone world into an alien language is a delicate job: it requires patient and skillful negotiation across two periods, two cultures, and two languages. Bhatt has accomplished the task sensitively.” ~Indian Express

“. . . depth in each of the 22 stories in this book, which means that a) the translator has done an excellent job and b) every story in the book is satisfying . . .” ~Deccan Chronicle

“Dhumketu’s layered exploration of human psychology and behavior are what make his short stories so impactful. There is definitely a master-class spread out across these pages for those who are interested in the technical aspects of writing short stories. Jenny Bhatt’s translation is nuanced but simple, and does justice to these stories.” ~Womensweb.in

FROM THE BOOK’S COVER:

“How do you hold the gaze long enough on a spark, the ‘tankha’? Dhumketu’s stories appeared in Gujarati literature like sparks, or comets, lighting up the sky, creating a desire to hear more, and see more. Generations in Gujarat have grown up on Dhumketu’s stories. Although not the first, Dhumketu is the most renowned short-story writer. Jenny Bhatt’s labor in understanding, contextualizing, interpreting, and translating him deserves our gratitude and attention. Without translations, we would be living a self-absorbed life, not learning about anyone else in the world!”
– Rita Kothari, Professor at Ashoka University; Co-translator of K. M. Munshi’s Patan Trilogy

“The brilliant and prolific writer, Dhumketu, is an integral part of the Gujarati canon. Jenny Bhatt’s empathetic and intuitive translations convey the signature and nuance of his short stories, and make this iconic voice available for readers around the world.”
– Namita Gokhale, Author; Founder and Co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan Literature Festival; Director of Yatra Books, a publishing house specializing in translation

“Dhumketu wrote nearly 500 short stories and this beautifully translated, brilliant and glittering collection from his oeuvre will go a long way in reminding readers about one of the finest short-story writers from India.”
– Aruni Kashyap, Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia; Author and Translator of Indira Goswami’s last work of fiction, The Bronze Sword of Thengphakhri Tehsildar

“A comet that flew through other linguistic skies now visits the Anglophone firmament. Train your telescopes, ladies and gentlemen, Dhumketu is here!”
– Jerry Pinto, Author and Translator; most recently, of Baburao Bagul’s Marathi short stories, The Day I Hid My Caste and Other Stories

ABOUT DHUMKETU:

Dhumketu was the pen name of Gaurishankar Govardhanram Joshi, one of Gujarat’s most prolific writers in the early-20th century. During his lifetime, he wrote some 600 short stories in 26 volumes, 29 historical and 7 social novels, various plays, travelogues, memoirs, and more. He was also an avid translator of Rabindranath Tagore and Khalil Gibran.

It is fair to say that he is the Gujarati Chekhov or Tagore. He pioneered the short story form in Gujarati literature, taking it beyond mere storytelling to a creative art form with advanced literary devices, universal themes, and characters drawn from all walks of life — rural to royal, young to old. In particular, his strong, independent-minded women and emotionally sensitive men were well ahead of their time. Many of these stories, if transposed to contemporary times, would still work just as well as in their time.

Unfortunately, in addition to suffering the same neglect as many other regional language writers in India, Dhumketu’s brilliance has been forgotten because, in India, the short story form has also lost the audience it once enjoyed. With this translation, I hope to help shine a brighter spotlight on his rich legacy.