Joothan

An Untouchable's Life

Omprakash Valmiki; Translated from the Hindi by Arun Prabha Mukherjee

Columbia University Press

Joothan

Pub Date: July 2008

ISBN: 9780231129732

208 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $24.00£20.00

Pub Date: July 2003

ISBN: 9780231129725

208 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $75.00£62.00

Pub Date: July 2008

ISBN: 9780231503372

208 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $23.99£20.00

Joothan

An Untouchable's Life

Omprakash Valmiki; Translated from the Hindi by Arun Prabha Mukherjee

Columbia University Press

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.
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. Booklist
Mukherjee offers English-language readers an accessible translation of Valmiki's engaging memoir that will prove invaluable. Maggie Ronkin, The Journal of Asian Studies
A "must read" for courses in postcolonial, cultural, and South Asian studies. Mohd. Asaduddin, H-Asia
Foreword, by Arun Prabha Mukherjee
Preface to the Hindi Edition
Introduction, by Arun Prabha Mukherjee
Joothan
Glossary

About 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.