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.
“How do you hold the gaze long enough on a spark, the ‘tankha’? Dhumketu’s stories appeared in Gujarati literature like sparks, or comets, lighting up the sky, creating desire to hear more, and see more. Generations in Gujarat have grown up on Dhumketu’s stories. 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
“The brilliant and prolific writer, Dhumketu, is an integral part of the Gujarati canon. Jenny Bhatt’s empathetic and intuitive translations convey the signature and nuance of his short stories, and make this iconic voice available for readers around the world.” —Namita Gokhale
“Dhumketu wrote nearly 500 short stories and this beautifully translated, brilliant and glittering collection from his oevre will go a long way in reminding readers about one of the finest short-story writers from India.” —Aruni Kashyap
“A comet that flew through other linguistic skies now visits the Anglophone firmament. Train your telescopes, ladies and gentlemen, Dhumketu is here!” —Jerry Pinto