H a r p e r c o l l i n s I n d i a recently released the book “The Windows In Our House Are Little Doors” at the Oxford book Store, Connaught Place.
A Novel in Twenty-Six Stories, by V i n o d K u m a r S h u k l a is translated from Hindi by Satti Khanna.
YASI, RASA and TA as the book is titled in Hindi are three restless children who live modest lower-middle-class lives at the edge of town, but their imaginations gleam with threads of many colors. Bored bicycles move away from their owners in the hope of being stolen … A light bulb in a sari shop mischievously switches itself on and off … Chalk doodles squirm and squiggle when adults are in the room … Sandals lying by the door plead to be worn…
The adults who play their games must enter many worlds – the one that prevails and the ones that are possible. They mumble and ask questions, but time and again they realize that a single glance won’t take in the whole sky. In The Windows in Our House Are Little Doors, Vinod Kumar Shukla unrolls dreamy wisdom and brocade-like moments that catch the light and dazzle. This ‘novel in twenty-six stories’ is a thing of sublime joy and pure delight.
The author, 84 year old Vinod Kumar Shukla was unfortunately not present at the event as he lives a very humble and isolated life in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He is one of the strongest and senior most Hindi poet and novelist of today’s times. His first novel, Naukar ki Kameez was published in 1979 and made into a film by Mani Kaul. In 1999, Shukla was given a Sahitya Akademi award for his novel Deewar Mein Ek Khidki Rehti Thi, which was later adapted as a play by Mohan Maharishi for NSD. A collection of his short stories translated into English as Blue Is Like Blue by Arvind Krishna Mehrota and Sara Rai received the Atta Galatta Prize for Best Fiction in 2019.
78 year old Satti Khanna, the Hindi to English translator of the book was also present at the book launch. He teaches Indian Cinema and Modern Hindi Literature at Duke University. He has translated the works of Vinod Kumar Shukla, Mohan Rakesh, and Suryakant Tripathi Nirala amongst others.
The dramatized reader and anchor of the evening, Kamal Pruthi who is popularly known as Kabuliwala beautifully wove the whole evening together. He is apparently one of the most renowned performance storytellers today. As Majmakar, he is the creator of Majma folk art form of performance storytelling and Museum theatre form of Storytelling. Even in his dramatized readings of Shukla ji’s writings, the mesmerized audiences could feel full-fledged performance of the Majma style.
Kamal, who is also a literary translator and translates German literature into Hindi and English engaged the audiences with his question-answer session with Sati Khanna. Discussing over high tea, Kamal also revealed that he is in love with the book and is intending to create a theatrical storytelling performance out of it.
A glimpse of super humble and senior artist Atanu Roy’s illustrations was also presented at the evening. Manish Gupta’s two short films showcasing Vinod Kumar Shukla’s recital of his poems gave the whole literary evening another level of charm.
HarperCollins India is the only publisher to have been awarded the Publisher of the Year Award three times: at Publishing Next in 2015, and at Tata Literature Live! in 2016 and 2018.
P.S: The article has been republished with permission of the artist.
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