la: An Untouchable's Life

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Overview

Omprakash Valmiki describes his life as an untouchable, or Dalit, in the newly independent India of the 1950s. "Joothan" refers to scraps of food left on a plate, destined for the garbage or animals. India's untouchables have been forced to accept and eat joothan for centuries, and the word encapsulates the pain, humiliation, and poverty of a community forced to live at the bottom of India's social pyramid.

Although untouchability was abolished in 1949, Dalits continued to face discrimination, economic deprivation, violence, and ridicule. Valmiki shares his heroic struggle to survive a preordained life of perpetual physical and mental persecution and his transformation into a speaking subject under the influence of the great Dalit political leader, B. R. Ambedkar. A document of the long-silenced and long-denied sufferings of the Dalits, Joothan is a major contribution to the archives of Dalit history and a manifesto for the revolutionary transformation of society and human consciousness.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

H-Asia - Mohammad Asaduddin
A "must read" for courses in postcolonial, cultural, and South Asian studies.
H-Asia - Mohd. Asaduddin

A "must read" for courses in postcolonial, cultural, and South Asian studies.

H-Asia
A "must read" for courses in postcolonial, cultural, and South Asian studies.

— Mohd. Asaduddin

The Journal of Asian Studies - Maggie Ronkin

Mukherjee offers English-language readers an accessible translation of Valmiki's engaging memoir that will prove invaluable.

Booklist

As an editor and writer, Valmiki has done much to stake out a space for Dalit literary expression, well exemplified by this narrative. Fascinating cultural and personal history.

The Journal of Asian Studies
Mukherjee offers English-language readers an accessible translation of Valmiki's engaging memoir that will prove invaluable.

— Maggie Ronkin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231129732
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/25/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Omprakash Valmiki is the author of two collections of poetry and one of short stories. As editor and publisher of numerous magazines, he has played a vital role in the propagation of Dalit literature.Arun Prabha Mukherjee is professor of English at York University in Toronto. She is the author of Postcolonialism: My Living and Oppositional Aesthetics: Readings from a Hyphenated Space.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

ForewordArun Prabha MukherjeePreface to the Hindi EditionIntroductionArun Prabha MukherjeeJoothanGlossary

Columbia University Press

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