Translated by Jenny Bhatt
The Shehnai Virtuoso and Other Stories brings together the first substantial collection of Dhumketu's work to be available in English, beautifully translated for a wide new audience by Jenny Bhatt.
Publication Date: July 26, 2022
When Dhumketu's first collection of short stories, Tankha, came out in 1926, it revolutionized the genre in India. Characterized by a fine sensitivity, deep humanism, perceptive observation, and an intimate knowledge of both rural and urban life, his fiction has provided entertainment and edification to generations of Gujarati readers and speakers.
The Shehnai Virtuoso brings together the first substantial collection of Dhumketu's work to be available in English. Beautifully translated for a wide new audience by Jenny Bhatt, these much-loved stories — like the finest literature — remain remarkable and relevant even today.
Dhumketu was the pen name of Gaurishankar Govardhanram Joshi (1892 1965), one of the foremost writers in Gujarati and a pioneer of the short story form. He published twenty-four short story collections and thirty-two novels on social and historical subjects, as well as plays, biographies, memoirs, translations, travelogues, literary criticism, etc. Dhumketu was a contemporary of Rabindranath Tagore, Munshi Premchand, and Saadat Hasan Manto, and his contributions to Indian literature are just as wide-ranging and groundbreaking.
Jenny Bhatt is a writer, translator and book reviewer. Her short story collection, Each of Us Killers, was critically well-received. Her writing has appeared in venues like The Atlantic, NPR, BBC Culture, The Washington Post, Literary Hub, Longreads, The Millions, Electric Literature, and others. Born in Gujarat, India, and raised in Bombay, India, she now resides in Texas, USA.
“A love letter to the power of art and the human spirit . . . These stories invite readers to rediscover the wonder in the quotidian.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Complex characters, vibrant imagery, and descriptions of rural Gujarat State bolster each of the stories. Readers are in for a treat.” —Publishers Weekly
“Dhumketu is a wonderfully gripping storyteller . . . Bhatt has certainly done him justice in this excellent selection.” —Jennifer Croft, translator of The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk
“The translator . . . follows each dip and tremor in the narrative flow with practised ease and linguistic flair . . .” —N Kalyan Raman, translator of Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan
“Jenny Bhatt transposes the lushness of life as described by [Dhumketu] . . . in new, important, florid, and disciplined renderings.” —Rajiv Mohabir, translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara by Lalbihari Sharma
“Although not the first, Dhumketu is the most renowned short story writer. Jenny Bhatt’s labor in understanding, contextualizing, interpreting and translating him deserves our gratitude and attention. Without translations, we would be living a self-absorbed life, not learning about anyone else in the world!” —Rita Kothari