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REVIEW: “Ganga’s Choice and Other Stories” by Vaasanthi

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

How free are women to make their own choices in the circumstances in which they find themselves? How do ordinary citizens become caught in communal divisions and migrant labourers cope with despair during the pandemic? These are some of the queries posed by the poignant and thought-provoking tales in this book.

Set in various parts of India and abroad, “Ganga’s Choice and Other Stories” (Niyogi Books), this collection of 15 stories by Vaasanthi, one of India’s well-known writers and translated from the Tamil original, powerfully captures slices of life to showcase the courage and strength of ordinary people.

A young woman derided as a freak chooses to live her life on her own terms; women from different backgrounds struggle against gender roles that are defined by rigid and oppressive social conventions; two migrant workers – rendered jobless during a lockdown – try to return to their village and maintain a bond of solidarity, despite different religious identities; a Sikh farmer living near the Line of Control loses his family to cross-border shelling but looks after the orphaned son of his neighbour from a different community.

Ganga’s Choice and Other Stories reflects the range and depth of Vaasanthi’s writing and unveils how humanity redeems the individual and provides hope, even in the midst of adversity.

“The stories are about lived experience and real characters that I have met – most importantly women, who have inspired me and moved me to speak about them, how they deal with injustices within their social circumstances in most unique ways,” Vaasanthi says.

The stories, renowned author K. Satchidanandan says, “surprise and enchant the reader with their thematic diversity and the vividness and vivacity of her characters drawn from different backgrounds. These 15 short stories are apt to give even a reader unacquainted with her many worlds a clear idea of her narrative skill and her deep insight into human situations and the transformations in attitudes and world-views that mark generational changes in the subcontinent. It is a sheer joy to read Vaasanthi’s stories in this representative collection”.

Vaasanthi is a leading writer, journalist, and columnist in Tamil and English. She has published 30 novels, 6 short story collections, 4 volumes of journalistic articles, and 4 travelogues in Tamil in the last 40 years.

She was the Editor of the Tamil edition of India Today for 10 years. Her articles have appeared in leading Indian newspapers and magazines. Her works have been translated in Malayalam, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, English, Norwegian, Czech, and Dutch.

Two of her novels have been made into Malayalam films. She is the recipient of several awards in Tamil Nadu including the Best Short Story Writer award, Best Novel award for “Ammani”. She has received the UP Sahitya Sansthan award and Punjab Sahitya Akademi award for her novels translated in Hindi and English respectively. Now a freelance writer and journalist, she lives in Delhi.

IANS

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