ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On a Bengali Dalit Autobiography

Surviving in My World: Growing Up Dalit in Bengal by Manohar Mouli Biswas, edited and translated in English by Angana Dutta and Jaideep Sarangi, Stree Samya Books, 2015; pp 150, ₹ 280.

Almost a decade ago in 2007, the Economic & Political Weekly published an article, “Is There Dalit Writing in Bangla?” (Byapari and Mukherjee 2007). The article immediately exploded the much cherished myth carefully cultivated by the urban, upper caste bhadralok that caste does not exist in West Bengal. An incredible archive of Dalit writings in Bangla was unearthed. The translator, in her introduction to the essay, noted that the longstanding unawareness regarding Bengali Dalit literature has been the product of a “collective reluctance in mainstream discourse to recognise as literature any writing that is done outside the upper caste literary establishment.”

Literature against the Tide

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