Stories that offer an authentic sense of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s unique style.
Translating the works of Sunil Gangopadhyay is not easy. But Arunava Sinha is a seasoned translator of classic and contemporary Bengali fiction and is able to retain the magic of the original work. Wonder World and Other Stories gives readers an authentic sense of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s unique style and a true understanding of his prolific writing spanning five decades.
The 20 stories, woven around intriguing events and enigmatic characters, pack a masala punch, containing everything from mystery and conspiracy to deceit and drama, love, threats and rape, fantasies and failed dreams, hope and aspirations.
The stories belong to small villages and towns, to squalid narrow lanes of cities and the sickening urban sprawl, but the human element is in the forefront.
The opening story, Wonder World, is about a family that doesn’t get enough to eat but finally receives a windfall when an advertising agency chooses their dilapidated house as the site of a huge hoarding for an airline. The colour and the images are so alluring that the roar of the plane is almost audible, the beautiful woman and the man appear real. The world of fantasy casts a rainbow over the grubby street.
In the Shade of the Tree at Haridaspur is a moving account of a teashop owner and his ragged stressful emotions. The story unfurls from the point when a couple from a neighbouring city attempts to take away his son by force. Later, in the dead of the night, he finds the washerman’s daughter returned by three men after being molested. He wonders why outsiders constantly disrupt the peace of the villagers.
There is a twist of fate in almost every tale.
A Cup of Tea at the Taj Mahal portrays the author’s concern for ordinary people who try to grasp their destinies with their own hands. Endearing and humorous, it is about a group of villagers, led by an eccentric nomad, who gain entry into a five-star hotel for a cup of tea. In the process, they wrestle with issues that dominate the minds of average city slickers.
The writing is marked by elegance and economy of words; and offers insights into the daily humdrum of ordinary lives spiced by unexpected events.
Wonder World and Other Stories; Sunil Gangopadhyay, Trs. Arunava Sinha, Supernova, Rs.250.