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Do Not Go To The Jungle

Do Not Go To The Jungle

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A nightwatchman at a sawmill on the edge of a forest tries to forge a bond with a lone fox; a mysterious woman arrives on a night train in the town of Madampi, leaving in her wake lovers withering and paralysed; the great communist leader ‘AKG’ mistakenly boards the general compartment of the Malabar Express and is horrified by the scene that meets his eye; a lonely station master at a derelict railway station erects on the platform a stuffed doll in his own image; a migrant labourer reads out his PhD thesis to the camels he’s herding in the Gulf; Isa is declared dead from Covid in Dubai and deported to India, where ghosts are unwelcome.

Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu’s ‘socio-horror’ writings, as he calls them, dissect the hair-raising manipulations of power. Moving seamlessly between the real and the surreal, these finely crafted stories shine a light on the anxieties of the disenfranchised, the would-be preys.

Macabre as they are, Shihabuddin’s prose is also replete with tender, heart-warming beauty—as in life, so in these tales, the light is never quite far from the dark and the unsavoury. Making Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu’s work accessible to the English-reading public for the very first time, J. Devika’s stellar translation of his stories marks the arrival of a world-class writer in a new language.

Tagged with:

fiction / indian / J. Devika / malayalam / Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu / translation /