Thursday, July 5, 2018

Book Review - Stories from Saratchandra: Innocence and Reality

The name "Saratchandra" rang my ears when I checked the title "Stories from Saratchandra: Innocence and Reality" An interesting looking book-cover with content written by one of the well-known writers of India. Vishnu has shown me this book and I instantly took it for review. I have read Porineeta and Devadas' Gujarati edition (after watching movies) and I liked them. I had a similar hope while selecting this book.

Book Blurb
‘Some time ago, a sudden rumour spread across our region that unless three children were sacrificed, the railway bridge over Roopnarayan just could not be constructed. Two small boys had already been buried alive under one of the pillions, and only one more needed to be caught...’
This book is a collection of twelve widely acclaimed short stories of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, one of the doyens of Bengali literature. Divided into two sections, the first bunch of stories portray childhood in all its unburdened innocence while the latter section leads on to deeper sensibilities—the everyday experience of casteism, the lived reality of social hierarchy, and the bonds of almost filial affection forged between man and animal that sustain both.
Stories from Saratchandra shows Saratchandra’s keen eye as a social commentator, presenting a vivid picture of life in rural Bengal during the early twentieth century.
I have read many critically acclaimed work in my mother tongue so I wanted to try the same in this case.  As this book also contains 12 critically acclaimed stories by Saratchandra. Stories belong to rural parts of India around late 1800 or early 1900 when poverty and untouchability were major social issues. The story of a farmer, teenage life, poor mother's struggle were some of the heart touching stories given in the book. As suggested in the subtitle, the stories in the second half were showing harsh reality, compared to normal toned stories in the first half.

Coming to the translation part, I haven't and cannot read the original work in Bengali so I have to rely on translations. I found Gujarati translation slight better, I am not sure whether it is the impact of mother tongue or something else. I was able to read Devadas and Porineeta at a faster pace. But this book has taken serious effort and time from my side. It took me more than one and a half month to finish the book. I also think the way characters' flow was portrayed also had taken its toll on the pace of the story. Frankly speaking, you need to be a serious reader or a patient one to finish it in 2-3 sittings.

I feel that selection could have been slightly better. I have read some of the Saratchandra's short stories' Gujarati translation published in our regional newspaper, they had a good and/or interesting climax. In this book, I felt that stories were ended very casually.

Having said that the author was not failed at any angle. He had done the fantabulous job by giving apt social message based stories.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Content - (Selection) - 2.5/5
  3. Character - 3.5/5
  4. Overall - 3/5
Book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads


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