SURVIVING IN MY WORLD:
Growing Up Dalit in Bengal
Manohar Mouli Biswas
Translated from the original Bengali by
Jaideep Sarangi and Angana Dutta
Foreword by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
8.5" x 5.5" pb 150pp ISBN 978-93-81345-09-2 June 2015 Rs 350
'Biswas the poet, fiction writer and activist is worth reading for his revolutionary spirit. It is our good fortune that we have this English translation that opens another window for us.'– G. J. V. Prasad, Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
'The narrations of Biswas bring to life the struggles of survival of the dalit namashudra community.This, and more such translations will help fight the illusion that "there is no caste discrimination in Bengal".'– Sharankumar Limbale, Regional Director of Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Pune.
'As a writer, translator, journalist and activist, Biswas's "life writing" testifies to the nexus between the word and the deed, redefining aesthetics from below.' – R. Azhagarasan Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Chennai.
A translation of the author's autobiography Amar Bhubane Ami Beche Thaki (2013), this book consists in addition a detailed interview of the author that bridges the gap between Biswas's days of struggle as a dalit child labourer, as narrated in the autobiography, and his later (so far unrecorded) life as an accomplished dalit literary activist, as one of the leading members of the Bangla Dalit Sahitya Sanstha that supports dalit literature. Born in 1943, in a family of small agriculturists among the formerly untouchable namashudra community in Metiargati, a village in the Khulna district of East Bengal, a wetland, Biswas has grown up not only wrestling poverty, starvation and discrimination against dalits but also practising their customs, participating in their economy and experiencing their cultural richness.
Incredibly moving, written with great direct simplicity, this also reveals the beliefs and practices of the namashudra and their coherent worldview with the Matua cult of Sri Harichand and Sri Guruchand Thakur undergirding their lives, also leading them to political mobilization against the upper caste stranglehold that operated socially and economically.
Manohar Mouli Biswas is the President of the Dalit Sahitya Sanstha, the publisher of Dalit Mirror and one of the founders of Chaturtha Duniya that publishes dalit writings in Bengali. Jaideep Sarangi is Associate Professor, Department of English; Angana Dutta, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, both of Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College, Kolkata; Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is Director, New Zealand India Research Institute, Victoria University, New Zealand.
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