Vultures by Dalpat Chauhan A Dalit Story

A gripping and graphic Dalit story that makes it hard to look away from both the page and the truth.

A veteran Gujarati voice just waiting to be heard by English readers – translated by the critically acclaimed translator Hemang Ashwinkumar, this is a translation as vivid and path-breaking as the original.

About the Book:

Gujarat, 1964. The agrarian system of renewable annual contacts mandates full-time labor in the houses and farms of landlords. In these bleak circumstances, Iso, a tanner by birth, graduates from being a child laborer 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.

Vultures by Dalpat Chauhan
Vultures by Dalpat Chauhan

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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.

‘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 recognize 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.’ — RANJIT HOSKOTE

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.

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 from 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.

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

About the Translator:

Hemang Ashwinkumaris 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 the Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar.

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