Delhi lends itself easily to fiction. It’s the seat the power, has a rich and complicated history and can be equally luxurious for the wealthy as it is punishingly cruel to the poor.
Uday Prakash, one of the country’s most accomplished Hindi writers weaves these attributes in a collection of three (long) short stories that showcase his remarkable storytelling for English readers in The Walls of Delhi. Tragic, comical and sometimes macabre, the Kafkaesque stories in this collection show how the lives of the economically disadvantaged are controlled by the state, the bureaucracy and dismissed by the law, even as its characters try to break out of destinies that have been scripted for them. Whether its a sweeper who finds a bag of cash and runs off to the Taj Mahal or a Dalit coal mine worker whose identify is stolen, Prakash’s telling reflects the rigidity of caste and class in India, even in the face of aspiration and tenacity.
The Walls of Delhi was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2013 and was a finalist for the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature.
Published in 2013. Translated from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum.