Friday, November 11, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 06-11-2016)


This was one Sunday I had been waiting for since the long Dussehra-Diwali shopping season that began almost six weeks ago. Now that Diwali is over, at Abids all the regular stores were closed leaving the pavements and the shopfronts for the second hand booksellers. I was happy to see all the second hand booksellers at their usual places with all their books laid out on the pavements. With the booksellers present in full strength and with full stocks I expected to find some interesting titles and I wasn’t disappointed. I found four wonderful titles last Sunday at Abids.

Books published in the 1950-70’s hold a special fascination for me. I do not know if it is the quaint font they have or the simple covers I buy such titles even if I have never heard of the author. My first find last Sunday at Abids was one such book. I found a copy of ‘The Judge’ by Tarasankar Banerjee with an attractive cover that had a young woman with intense eyes on the cover. ‘The Judge’ is an English translation of the original in Bengali ( titled ‘Vicharak’) by Sudhansu Mohan Banerjee. It is a small book, smaller than a postcard in size with just a little over 100 pages that can be read in less than a couple of hours. Incidentally, I saw another copy of the same book with another seller who thought the book in my hand was from his stock.

Sometime back I bought Series I, II and III of ‘Contemporary Indian Short Stories’ of the Sahitya Akademi at Abids because one of them had a story by the Tamil writer Pudumai Pithan. I had read somewhere that he was a great short story writer. In Series II I read his story- Redemption- that was so simple and wonderfully written that I became an instant fan of Pudumai Pithan. I then resolved to read more Tamil writers if I found their translated works. The second find at Abids last Sunday turned out to be another wonderful find. I regret that I hadn’t been aware of many writers of Indian languages and hence missed a lot of wonderful fiction. But through luck and some sharp observation I am able to find wonderful translations of the works of some really great writers. My next find was one such book and it was ‘Waves’ by Sundara Ramaswamy. I faintly remember coming across this name somewhere. Anyway, ‘Waves’ is an anthology of fiction and poetry of Sundara Ramaswamy translated from Tamil by A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Gomathi Narayanan, and Lakshmi Holstrom who also edited the anthology. After I went home I read a story in it titled ‘A Day with My Father’ and I was struck by the beautiful manner in which the innocence of childhood is brought out.

One can find several copies of ‘Peyton Place’ by Grace Metalious at Abids but so far I haven’t come across a good copy. Either the cover was missing or the pages were loose in all the copies I saw but on Sunday I found a decent copy. I hadn’t read this supposedly controversial book and was looking for a good copy and so picked it up for thirty rupees. There were other titles, mostly Pans, which I should have sifted through thoroughly but somehow I did not. Next Sunday I will go through these copies carefully.

The last find was at Chikkadpally. Sometime recently I read an article in which authors listed out little known authors who did not receive the attention they deserved and I actually wrote down their names. Suguna Ramanathan, Reshma Aquil, Naiyer Masud were some of the names. In the beautiful copy of ‘Indian Literature’ Issue No. 248 of Nov-Dec 2008 I saw at Chikkadpally I found a story by one of the writers in this list-Naiyer Masud. The story was titled ‘Ganjefa: The Game of Cards’ and I picked up this issue that was a treasure of poems, stories, literary criticism, reviews and much more in its 250 pages. I got this wonderful issue of ‘Indian Literature for just thirty rupees.
(Due to some technical problem I could not upload the pictures of the books)

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