cover image The Shehnai Virtuoso

The Shehnai Virtuoso

Dhumketu, trans. from the Gujarati by Jenny Bhatt. Deep Vellum, $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-64605-168-7

This rich and comprehensive English-language debut collection from Dhumketu (1892–1965), keenly selected and translated by Bhatt, showcases a range of subjects and skills. “The Post Office,” Dhumketu’s most anthologized work, follows an aging father who sits outside the post office every day, hoping for a letter from his only daughter. In “The Queen of Nepal,” a woman runs away from an unhappy marriage only to realize what she had lost. “The Noble Daughters-in-Law” features a young woman who wants to avenge her husband’s death, but is thrown out by his family and has to find ways to sustain herself in a rigidly patriarchal society. “Gulabvahu” illuminates the prejudice of the caste system, as a lower caste girl orphaned at birth is raised in an upper caste household, but isn’t considered worthy to be wed to an upper caste man. Complex characters, vibrant imagery, and descriptions of rural Gujarat State and bolster each of the stories. Readers are in for a treat. (July)