10/29/2010 ~ Deliverance : Gauri Deshpande (Translated by Shashi Deshpande)

Deliverance, first published in Marathi as Nirgathi, is a strikingly unusual novel, a powerful story about the turbulent relationships within a family that chafes at being bound together by intensely close ties. A novel about mothers and daughters, and about motherhood, told with painful and disturbing honesty.

Mimi and Shami are half-sisters who share a mother (the narrator) and a conflicted relationship with her second husband. As the story progresses, all four go through rites of passage that leave them emotionally scarred, yet more closely bound to each other than ever before. Mimi and Shami grow up, grow away from their parents, find fulfilment in alien environments. The narrator and her husband realign their lives, physically and emotionally, in an all-too-familiar, poignant response. The novel’s shocking but inevitable denouement confronts one of the fundamental truths of all human bonds, even as it brings deliverance.

Gauri Deshpande (1942-2003) bilingual poet, essayist and short story writer in Marathi and English, has been published   extensively in both languages. Her fluency in them has earned her the reputation of a translator par excellence, one of her most outstanding works being the translation into Marathi of the 16 volumes of Sir Richard Burton’s The Arabian Nights. Her collections of poetry include Between Births (1968); Lost Love (1970); and Beyond the Slaughterhouse (1972). Among her prose works are The Lackadaisical Sweeper (1997), and the English translation of  Manohar Tari.

Shashi Deshpande, novelist and short story writer, has nine short story collections, ten novels, a book of essays and four children’s books to her credit. Three of her novels have received awards, including the Sahitya Akademi award for That Long SilenceSmall RemediesMoving On and In the Country of Deceit are her most recent novels. Her short stories and novels have been translated into a number of Indian as well as many European languages, and she has translated two plays by Adya Rangacharya, eminent  Kannada writer, as well as his memoirs, into English.

Published by Women Unlimited India, Rs.225, available December 2010.

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