Samya and publishing Dalit literature


When Samya published Joothan in 2004, the book was judged Winner of the New India Foundation Best Book Award. They have just reprinted it this month.

Joothan: A Dalit’s Life is by Omprakash Valmiki, and has been translated from the Hindi by Arun Prabha Mukherjee. Sumit Guha has called it 'a searing memoir of the life of a sensitive and intelligent Dalit youth in independent India. It tells us how he overcame contempt, humiliation and violence to gain an education and join the slowly growing ranks of Dalit intellectuals in India . . . indispensable to those who would understand modern South Asia.'

Translated into English for the first time from the original Hindi, Omprakash Valmiki’s autobiography talks of growing up in a village near Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, in an untouchable caste, Chuhra, well before the defiant term ‘Dalit’ was coined. As he states bleakly, ‘Dalit life is excruciatingly painful, charred by experiences, only he or she who has suffered this anguish knows its sting.’ Valmiki’s story is one of terrible grief and oppression, of survival and achievement, of his emergence as a freer human being in a society that remains ‘compassionless towards Dalits’.

The author, Omprakash Valmiki, is a poet and a literary critic, and now is an established name in Hindi literature. He works at the Ordinance Factory, Dehradun. The translator, Arun Prabha Mukherjee is Associate Professor, Department of English, York University, Toronto. She is a well-known scholar of post-colonial studies and is also a literary critic.

The book has long been on our site. Paperback, Rs 260. ISBN 9788185604633.

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