Winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the Atta Galatta-Bangalore Literature Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, Jayant Kaikini is one of India’s most celebrated short-story writers.
For readers of Jhumpa Lahiri and Rohinton Mistry, as well as Lorrie Moore and George Saunders, here are stories on the pathos and comedy of small-town migrants struggling to build a life in the big city, with the dream world of Bollywood never far away.
Jayant Kaikini’s gaze takes in the people in the corners of Mumbai – a bus driver who, denied vacation time, steals the bus to travel home; a slum dweller who catches cats and sells them for pharmaceutical testing; a father at his wits end who takes his mischievous son to a reform institution.
In this metropolis, those who seek find epiphanies in dark movie theaters, the jostle of local trains, and even in roadside keychains and lost thermos flasks. Here, in the shade of an unfinished overpass, a factory-worker and her boyfriend browse wedding invitations bearing wealthy couples’ affectations – ‘no presents please’ – and look once more at what they own.
Translated from the Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana, these resonant stories, recently awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, take us to photo framers, flower markets, and Irani cafes, revealing a city trading in fantasies while its strivers, eating once a day and sleeping ten to a room, hold secret ambitions close.
‘Jayant Kaikini’s stories are like portals opening from the routines of our lives into the unusual and mysterious, where everything contains unseen possibilities. For the outsiders in these stories, even the act of dreaming feels rebellious. A wonderful, and wonderfully translated, collection of stories.’
-Akil Kumarasamy, author of Half Gods
‘Kaikini’s talent lies in his ability to simultaneously capture the humdrum routine of his characters’ lives and plumb the depths of their desires … These stories poignantly express the characters’ feelings of triumph amid the limitations of circumstance.’
‘ Kaikini’s style and themes will have a familiar ring for Western audiences; there are echoes of Jhumpa Lahiri and George Saunders. But his vision of a bustling city, his sense of its drama and magical moments, is his own. A welcome introduction of a commanding writer to a wider audience.’ STARRED REVIEW
No Presents Please: Mumbai stories By (author) Jayant Kaikani ISBN:9781922310187