Written in 1980, this novel by prize-winning Indian writer Mahasweta Devi, translated and introduced by Gayatri Chakravorty Sprivak, is remarkable for the way in which it touches on vital issues that have in subsequent decades grown into matters of urgent social conern. Written by one of India’s foremost novelists, and translated by an eminent cultural and critical theorist. Ranges over decades in the life of Chotti – the central character – in which India moves from colonial rule to independence, and then to the unrest of the 1970s. Traces the changes, some forced, some welcome, in the daily lives of a marginalized rural community. Raises questions about the place of the tribal on the map of national identity, land rights and human rights, the ‘museumization’ of ‘ethnic’ cultures, and the justifications of violent resistance as the last resort of a desperate people. Represents enlightening reading for students and scholars of postcolonial literature and postcolonial studies.
Translator’s Foreword. 1. ‘Telling History’: An Interview with Mahasweta Devi. 2. Chotti Munda and his Arrow. Translator’s Afterword. Notes.
“The importance of Ray’s book lies in its active transgression of the kind of knowledge-project that can and must be performed by a beginner’s guide. In this respect, her book works as an excellent pathway into the complex textures of Spivak’s own writings.” (Cultural Critique, 2012)
Mahasweta Devi is widely acknowledged as one of India's foremost writers. In 1996, she won the Jnanpith Award (India's highest literary award) and the Magsaysay Award (considered to be Asia's version of the Nobel Prize). She was also awarded the Padmasree in 1986, for her activist work amongst dispossessed tribal communities. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, New York. Her many publications include Of Grammatology (1976), the translation with critical introduction of Jacques Derrida's De la grammmatologie. She has also published translations of Mahasweta Devi’s Imaginary Maps(1994), Breast Stories(1997), and Old Women(1999), and is currently translating for the definitive edition of the Selected Works of Mahasweta Devi. Other Asias, a collection of her essays, will be published by Blackwell in 2003.
'I had but that one arrow’, says Chotti Munda, the hero of this epic tale. A 'magic' arrow that stood for the pride, the wisdom, the culture of their society, a society threatened with inevitable disintegration as its traditional structures crumbled under the assault of 'national development'. The wide sweep of this important novel encompasses many layers. It ranges over decades in the life of Chotti – the central character - in which India moves from colonial rule to independence and then to the unrest of the 1970s. It probes and uncovers the complex web of social and economic exchange based on power relations. It traces the changes, some forced, some welcome, in the daily lives of a marginalized rural community. And at its core, it celebrates Chotti, legendary archer, wise and farsighted leader, proud role model to his younger brethren. Written in 1980, this novel is remarkable for the manner in which it touches on vital issues that have, in subsequent decades, grown into matters of urgent social concern. It raises questions about the place of the tribal on the map of national identity, land rights and human rights, the 'museumization' of 'ethnic' cultures, and the justifications of violent resistance as the last resort of a desperate people.
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