KITAABCHI OF THE MONTH – MAY "There is a novel by Mamang Dai, Stupid Cupid, which I think is an important work. It features independent, educated, empowered, city-dwelling Adivasi women. But Mamang Dai is known more for the books, The Black Hill (for which she won the Sahitya Akademi Puraskar) and The Legends of Pensam, and, in between these two books, Stupid Cupid seems to be lost somewhere."
Under Kitaabchi or the bibliophile of the month, we ask a reader to share a bit about his world of books. This month’s Kitaabchi of the month is the Sahitya Award-winning Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar.

While for The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey, Dr. Shekhar was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award winner, 2014, his collection of short stories titled, The Adivasi Will Not Dance was banned by the Jharkhand government in 2017.

  1. Why don’t you introduce yourself? Where do you live? What do you do for a living? 

My name is Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. I am a doctor and am employed as a medical officer with the government of Jharkhand. My hometown is Ghatsila and my posting is in Pakur. I am currently suspended from my job.

 

  1. What’s the first book you remember reading? 

I think it was a book from the Children’s Book Trust (CBT) way back in the 1980s. It was in Hindi and was called Pauranik Kathayein. It was a beautifully illustrated retelling of stories from the Mahabharata. The name of the illustrator, Pulak Biswas, has stayed on with me for 30 years. (I googled this book and learnt that its English title is Tales from Indian Classics.)

 

  1. What is your favorite book/author? 

There are too many. I cannot name only one.

 

  1. What’s the biggest influence on what you read? 

None. I pick up books purely on my instincts.

 

  1. Is there a book/ books you have read more than once? Which one and what makes you go back to it? 

Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, because it is such a powerful story and powerful writing, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, because of the finely measured stories.

 

  1. Is there any genre you would never read? 

No. I will try to read all the books that I feel like reading.

 

  1. An author and /or a book you think are underrated and why? 

I really cannot think of any at this moment. There is a novel by Mamang Dai, Stupid Cupid, which I think is an important work. It features independent, educated, empowered, city-dwelling Adivasi women. But Mamang Dai is known more for the books, The Black Hill (for which she won the Sahitya Akademi Puraskar) and The Legends of Pensam, and, in between these two books, Stupid Cupid seems to be lost somewhere.

 

  1. If you could be a character in any book, what would it be? 

Miranda Priestly from Lauren Weisberger’s novel, The Devil Wears Prada, or Emma Wodehouse from Jane Austen’s novel, Emma.

 

  1. Is there a particular genre you like reading?

No. I read whatever I feel like reading at a particular time. (Though, from my previous answer, you must have guessed that I like chick lit.)

 

  1. A book you have been wanting to read but haven’t yet? 

There are so many, how can I name only one? David Mitchell is one author I want to read. I purchased his novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, in 2010, but I have not been able to read it yet.

I have not read a single book by Rohinton Mistry and I want to read him. Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is gathering dust on my bookshelf, but I have not been able to read it yet. There are so many other authors too.

 

  1. A genre that dominates your bookshelf? 

Literary fiction.

 

 

  1. Do you have a blog where people can follow you? 

No. But I have a profile on Academia.edu where I upload my published non-fiction works. I am not an academic but I built a profile on Academia because I did not know about Porterfolio, and now that I know about Porterfolio, Porterfolio is not taking any more users. My Academia profile is: http://independent.academia.edu/HansdaSowvendraShekhar

 

 

  1. What are you currently reading? 

Two books. Travails With The Alien: The film that was never made and other adventures with science fiction by Satyajit Ray and Chinatown Days by Rita Chowdhury.

 

 

  1. What is the next book you are planning to read? 

Anjum Hasan’s collection of short stories, A Day in the Life.


 

 

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s Works:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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