Vultures by Dalpat Chauhan Translated by Hemang Ashwinkumar

About The Book

Gujarat, 1964. The agrarian system of renewable annual contacts mandates fulltime labour in the houses and farms of landlords. In these bleak circumstances, Iso, a tanner by birth, graduates from being a child labourer to an adult serf on the estate of Mavaji. His life is one of humiliation, hunger and drudgery, and the only respite comes in the form of Diwali, Mavaji’s daughter. Between them exists a physical relationship that is shrouded in secrecy, shame and fear. Even as Iso creates distance between them, a chance encounter turns to violence and tragedy, and he faces the brutal sword of caste patriarchy.

Based on the blood-curdling murder of a Dalit boy by Rajput landlords in Kodaram village in 1964, Vultures portrays a feudal society structured around caste-based relations and social segregation, in which Dalit lives and livelihoods are torn to pieces by upper-caste vultures. The deft use of dialect, graphic descriptions and translator Hemang Ashwinkumar’s lucid telling throw sharp focus on the fragmented world of a mofussil village in Gujarat, much of which remains unchanged even today.


‘ This novel mirrors [Gujarat’s] history of horrors. and becomes an instrument of its reform.’


Vultures is unflinching in its portrayal of the  custom-sanctified violence around which Indian  society is structured. Through Hemang Ashwinkumar’s translation—which is closely  attentive to cultural, political and linguistic nuance —a new readership will recognise how urgently relevant Vultures remains, three decades after it  was first published. Vultures resonates with  memories of suffering, but it also proclaims the survivor’s resilient desire to bear witness against injustice.’

About The Author

Dalpat Chauhan is a veteran Gujarati Dalit writer and one of the pioneers who flagged off Gujarat’s Dalit literary movement in the late 1970s. He has published several books, which range over varied genres. Notable among these are his novels Malak (1991), Gidh (2000), and Bapor (2021). He has received a number of awards and prizes: five from Gujarati Sahitya Akademy, four from Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, the prestigious Narsinh Mehta Award and Dumaketu Prize. His works have been translated into other Indian Languages and English. 

About The Translator

Hemang Ashwinkumar is a poet, fiction writer, translator, editor and critic who writes in Gujarati and English. His works have appeared in journals and  books of national and international repute. He works at Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar.

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