Nominated by:

India International Centre Library, New Delhi

Publisher of nominated edition:

Aleph Book Company, India

The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey

Hansda Swvendra Shekhar    

2016 Longlist

Rupi birthed her eldest son squatting in the middle of a paddy field, shin-deep in mud and slush. Soon after, Gurubari, her rival in love, gave her an illness that was like the alakjari vien which engulfs the tallest, greenest trees of the forest and sucks their hearts out. Now Rupi, once the strongest woman in her village, lives out her days on a cot in the backyard, and her life dissolves into incomprehensible ruin around her.

The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey is the story of the Baskeys – the patriarch Somai; his alcoholic, irrepressible daughter Putki; Khorda, Putki’s devout, upright husband, and their sons Sido and Doso; and Sido’s wife Rupi. Equally, the novel is about Kadamdihi, the Santhan village in Jharkhand in which the Baskeys live. For it is in full view of the village that the various large and small dramas of the Baskey’s lives play out, even as the village cheers them on, dinds fault with them, prays for them and , most of all, enjoys the spectacle they provide.

The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey brings to vivid life a village, its people, and the gods – good and bad – who influence them. Through their intersecting lives, it explores the age-old notions of good and evil and the murky ways in which the heart and the mind work.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar was born, raised, works, and lives in Jharkhand. He is a medical officer with the government of Jharkhand. His stories and articles have appeared in many publications including: The Statesman, The Asian Age, Good Housekeeping and The Times of India. The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey is his first novel. His next book, The Adivasi Will Not Dance, a collection of 10 short stories, will be published in 2015.

Librarian’s Comments

The story focuses on three generations of Baskeys and their lives along with the regular life of the people of Kadamdihi. The author vividly paints a picture through his words about all the good and bad happenings in the village and the lives of its inhabitants. Human relationships and its intricacies along with old-age notions about good and evil form the base of the story. The author has done a fine job in putting everything together and takes you to the tribal areas of Jharkhand, India. It is a strong and bold attempt to showcase the life of tribals and myths and beliefs they live with.

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