Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The world of Santhals: Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's debut novel

I've had the pleasure of knowing Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar virtually, and his thoughtful comments and messages stood out amid the clutter and inanity which can fog Facebook. A medical doctor by profession HSS, as we call him, has created the time and space in his busy life to craft which is probably the first novel in English to explore the world of Santhals from within. The novel is due soon from Aleph, and promises to be an exciting read.

HSS shares how the novel happened.
" I got the idea for this novel from an incident which happened in my village. I took hints from village gossip and from the stories and incidents my pishi told me. My pishi who's raised me told me a number of stories and I've also included some of them in my book. There are political events too, to give the story a certain time frame. The info for this I got from my father and my Hopon-daadu (Chhoto-daadu, my grandfather's younger brother). My novel is full of Santhali folklore and songs and rituals and everything that happens in a Santhal village in my part of Jharkhand: the East Singbhum (Purbi Singbhum) district; more specifically the Chakulia and Ghatsila blocks of East Singbhum district. I got many other details from other members of my family, like my other pishi. Since it all comes from me and my family, one can be pretty sure it's authentic Santhali material and not some exotic stuff."

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