N Kalyan Raman/
Translator(s): N Kalyan Raman
Publisher: Orient Longman
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8125026827
The fictional events narrated in Mole! An English translation of Otran, a novel by Ashokamitran take place within a period of seven months, nearly all of them in the American Midwest. The narrator, a culturally rooted writer from Chenai, is transplanted amidst a motley group of fellow-writers form distant parts of the world, all of them as dangerously dislocated as him. Deprived of the language that has brought them fulfillment and distinction, these writers struggle to retain their place of precarious honour in a strange, unfamiliar and sometimes hostile environment.
In his interactions with them, the writer-narrator is, by turns, engaged, helpful, engaging, frightened, distant, generous and cunning. He is easily moved by their sorrows, and frequently ironic about their many eccentricities. Always in interested witness to the life around him but at a distinct remove from direct participation separated by language, temperament, and divergent sexual and social mores he becomes, in his impulses and responses, a mole in this new and complex human setting; a mole for his own world of art, imagination and culture. And in the background looms the endearing, if exasperating, landscape of twentieth-century America.
Kalyan Raman’s English translation illumines the subtle, spare strength of Ashokamitran’s prose. The mural of events is drawn with fine empathy.
At the Airport
That Other Bus Station
I’m Busy Right Now
The Hall of Mirrors
April 27, 1974
Afterword by A R Venkatachalapathy