Wild Animals Prohibited
July 13, 2021
fiction | pb | 300 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"
Audacious experimentalist and self-declared anti-writer, Subimal Misra is the master of contemporary alternative Bengali literature and anti-establishment writing. This collection brings together twenty-five stories that record the dark history of violence and degeneration in the Bengal of the seventies and eighties. The mirror that Misra holds up to society breaks every canon of rectitude with unfailing precision. The stories also plot the continuous evolution of Misra’s writing as he searches for a form to do justice to the reality that confronts us. Deeply influenced by Godard, Misra uses montage and other cinematic techniques in his stories, which he himself calls "anti-stories," challenging our notions of reading and of literature itself. Brilliantly translated by V. Ramaswamy, Wild Animals Prohibited: Stories/Anti-stories startles with its blasphemy, its provocative ideas, and its sheer formal daring.
Translated from the Bengali by V. Ramaswamy
About the Author:
Subimal Misra is a Bengali novelist, short story writer, and essayist. He's considered by many to be one of most important, and experimental, Bengali writers of all time. Heavily influenced by Jean-Luc Godard and William S. Burroughs, Subimal Misra uses various cinematic techniques, like montage, jump-cut etc., in his literary works. The author of more than a dozen books, this is the first collection of his to appear in the United States.
About the Translator:
V. Ramaswamy is a nonfiction writer and translator based in Kolkata, India. As an activist working for the rights of the laboring poor, Ramaswamy has written about workers, squatters, slums, poverty, housing and resettlement, and has been at the forefront of efforts to envision and initiate the rebuilding of his city from the grassroots. Since 2005, he has been translating the short fiction of the Bengali anti-establishment experimental writer, Subimal Misra, whose critical eye examines the society, politics and culture of his time.
“Philosophical passages collide with scenes out of a horror novel, including sections focusing on a predatory creature: “Once complete darkness envelops the place, it emerges, it searches for raw humans.” . . . And some of the stories take bolder structural risks; in “Will You Preserve Your Chastity, Aparna?” which concerns itself with desire and intimacy, the text gives way to a table at one point, accentuating the skewed connection between narrator and reader. There’s a lot to admire and savor in these challenging works.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Misra’s challenging, inventive English-language debut strings together a series of images that lay bare the deprivations of the underclasses in early 1980s Kolkata. . . . This dense, politically charged text is a fine achievement in experimental fiction.”
“Misra leaps and alights from branch to bough in a cosmic garden of characters. . . . These two anti-novels are an invitation to engage with discomfort, through purposeful silence, jump cuts and ferocious prose.”—Percy Bharucha, Hindustan Times
“Misra’s stories are not seductive; their power lies in their subversion. They look straight into the dark heart of the middle class and use an array of startling techniques to undercut the pretensions and hypocrisies by which we live.”—Jerry Pinto
“Misra’s anti-novels are as much a reinvention of the novel, that has been congealed and commodified into a methodised, stationary, inert ‘cultural object’, as a critique of the bhadrolok, the bourgeoisie, whose totalitarian impulses have alienated and antagonised the rest in Bengal.”—Rohit Chakraborty, Open Magazine
“When I read him for the first time, I saw that his stories rebelled against dominant literary conventions. His stories were anti-stories, a violent mix of fragmentary narratives and essays, even statistics, juxtaposed together to deliver a shocking statement. 'The bloodier the Naxalite movement in West Bengal grows, Vidyasagar’s visage gets chopped off again and again, and the more the pavements of Kolkata become infested with sex-magazines.'”—Amitava Kumar
“[I]t takes a strong stomach to stay with his reports from the morgue, from the rotting body in a sack whose stench poisons a city, the half-whores and full-whores, but he reels you in, even as he plays games with language, arranging his sentences into one of his famous collages . . .”—Nilanjana S. Roy
“What was Subimal Misra thinking? Why can his stories catch your attention despite them not having a linear plot, a simple thing to tell? Who knows? They’re worth reading and, if your imagination works, you could hear his laughter at the very end.”
—Luis A Gómez, National Herald India
“The book is a Guernica of sorts in printed letters and words—stark, chaotic, gut-wrenching, and confounding in its immensity of interpretations.”
—Nabina Das, Dhaka Tribune