Dhumketu’s Short Stories

(Fall 2019; Harper Collins India, Worldwide)

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 492 short stories in 24 volumes, 29 historical and 7 social novels, various plays, travelogues, 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.

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