Bait : Four Stories
Translated by Sumanta Banerjee
Introduced by Sumanta Banerjee
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 102pp 2005
ISBN : 9788170462392
Rs 250.00 (PB)
‘It is these hoodlums and desperadoes, the derelicts and drifters of the Bengali underworld as well as their political patrons and protectors in the police, whom Mahasweta brings to life with her caustic pen in the pages of these stories. As she pillories the respectable representatives of power in our political system who sustain this underworld, she offers us the extraordinary chance to watch a lifelike effigy of the bizarre structure of Indian democracy burning in the background’—Sumanta Banerjee
Unlike most of her works, which focus on tribals and the rural dispossessed, the four stories in this collection are located in the urban and suburban underworld, and form an unusual segment of Mahasweta Devi’s oeuvre—‘Fisherman’ (about Jagat who recovers bodies of young boys from the village tank so that the police can pass them off as cases of drowning), ‘Knife’ (a tongue-in-cheek account of gang warfare in a suburban town of West Bengal, bordering Bangladesh), ‘Body’ (about a ‘young woman’, used by a politician and his cohorts until she makes her own protest against the exploitative Establishment) and ‘Killer’ (in which Sona alias Akhil, an unemployed middle-class youth, discovers himself after his first ‘test’ killing).
The indepth introductory essay by veteran cultural historian Sumanta Banerjee, who himself, from his crime reporting past, has a firsthand familiarity with the milieu being depicted, puts the stories in context and goes on to discuss the development of the new criminal underworld in Bengal today.
Mahasweta Devi is one of India's foremost writers. Her powerful fiction has won her recognition in the form of the Sahitya Akademi (1979), Jnanpith (1996) and Ramon Magsaysay (1996) awards, amongst several other literary honours. She was also awarded the Padmasree in 1986, for her activist work amongst dispossessed tribal communities.
Selected Works Of Mahasweta Devi