This Could Have Become Ramayan Chamar’s Tale: Two Anti-Novels – Subimal Misra; Tr. V. Ramaswamy


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Subimal Misra—anarchist, activist, anti-establishment, experimental anti-writer—is a contemporary master, and among India’s greatest living writers. This Could Have Become Ramayan Chamar’s Tale is a novella about trying to write a novella about a tea-estate worker turned Naxalite named Ramayan Chamar, who gets arrested during a worker’s strike and is beaten up and killed in custody. But every time the author attempts to write that story, reality intrudes in various forms to create a picture of a nation and society that is broken down and where systemic inequalities are perpetuated by the middle- and upper-classes which are either indifferent or actively malignant.

When Colour Is a Warning Sign goes even further in its experimentation, abandoning the barest pretence of narrative and composed entirely as a collage of vignettes and snippets of dialogue, reportage, autobiography, etc.

Together these two anti-novels are a direct assault on the vast conspiracy of not seeing that makes us look away from the realities of our socio-political order. In V. Ramaswamy s translation, they make for difficult, challenging but immensely powerful reading.


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