Author: S L Bhyrappa
Publisher: East West Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 818685262X
Translated from Kannada , The Witness uses ancient myths, and philosophical and Gandhian concepts to discuss the meaning of truth and its distortions through greed, sexuality and desire. The focus is on what means to be a witness, in a courtroom, before the gods, to the lives of others, or finally, to one's own self.
Overcome by the abiding guilt of having perjured himself in a murder trial, a village elder commits suicide. Yama, the God of Death and righteousness, commands him to return to earth in spiritual form to witness but not to intervene in the subsequent events. The village elder observes the other characters as they are confronted by difficult decisions and revelations which cause them look inward and attempt an appraisal of their lives and values; Savitri, who realizes truth behind her mother's suicide, greedy Nagappa, idealistic Satyappa and above all the arrogant, selfish and lustful Manjaiah.
Born in pre-independence India, S L BHYRAPPA studied in Mysore and Baroda, retiring as Professor of Philosophy in 1991. He has written 19 novels which have been translated into many Indian languages. His works have won several state awards and for Daatu (An Equal Eye) he received the National Prize of the Academy of Letters, India's highest literary honor. He is widely regarded as one of India's foremost modern-day writers.
THE TRANSLATOR: SHARON NORRIS who studied English at the Universities of St. Andrews and Glasgow, worked as journalist with BBC before taking her Ph.D. in contemporary fiction. She now teaches for the University of Glasgow and for the Open University.