‘Joothan’ refers to the scraps left on plates that are then given to Dalits to eat. In some ways it is a symbol of the demeaning existence imposed on the Dalits, for whom autobiography is the preferred genre since it enables them to write of themselves and their communities, of their lived reality. In this book, the second autobiography by a Dalit, readers are drawn into world where cruelty and deprivation seem to be the only reality, and they become aware of the complexities of caste oppression. Omprakash Valmiki talks of growing up in a village in north India in an untouchable caste, Chuhra, well before the defiant term ‘Dalit’ was coined. It is a story of survival, of terrible grief and oppression, of surmounting great odds to emerge as a freer human being.
‘How come we were never mentioned in any epic? Why didn’t an epic poet ever write a word on our lives?’
Bhatkal and Sen
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About the Contributors
The author, a poet and a literary critic, is an established name in Hindi literature. He retired recently from the Ordinance Factory, Dehradun, and was able to concentrate on his writing before his untimely death.
The translator is a Professor, Department of English, York University, Toronto. She is a well-known scholar of post-colonial studies and is also a literary critic.
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