HarperCollins India is proud to announce its new publication Blue is like Blue

HarperCollins India is proud to announce the publication of Blue is like Blue by Vinod Kumar Shukla and translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai


Blue Is Like Blue is Shukla’s only collection of short fiction, available in English translation for the first time. The stories here deal with ‘smaller-than-life people’. They live in rented accommodation, often in single rooms, where one electric bulb does for light. When the light dims because of low voltage, it is like air escaping from a punctured bicycle tube. There’s a nail to hang clothes from and a wall-to-wall string for the washing. When the clothes are dry, you place the carefully folded shirt under a pillow and lie down to sleep. Money is a concern, but the bazaar is the place to go and spend time in, especially if you have nothing to buy. The fear that you may be overcharged accompanies every transaction, but joy is not entirely absent. The book also includes Shukla’s memoir, ‘Old Veranda’, with its unforgettable scene in which a bus bound for Rajnandgaon, the city of his birth, is travelling ‘through the air at great speed’. Few works of modern Indian literature come alive in English, and fewer still in the way that these stories do in Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s and Sara Rai’s brilliant translation.

Vinod Kumar Shukla's world is set just a little bit askew and, thus, the quotidian becomes unusual, the mundane becomes remarkable. The reader is persuaded to marvel anew at the follies and foibles of the human species. 

Vinod Kumar Shukla is a poet and novelist from Raipur, Chhattisgarh. His first collection of poems, Lagbhag Jai Hind, was published in 1971, followed by Vah Aadmi Chala Gaya Naya Garam Coat Pehankar Vichar Ki Tarah in 1981. His first novel, Naukar Ki Kameez, was published in 1979 and made into a film by Mani Kaul. In 1999, Shukla received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Deewar Mein Ek Khidki Rehti Thi. 

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is the translator of The Absent Traveller and Songs of Kabir. Among his recent books are Collected Poems and Translating the Indian Past and Other Literary Histories. SARA RAI has translated The Golden Waist-Chain and Munshi Premchand’s Kazaki and Other Marvellous Tales. She is the author of three collections of short stories and one novel in Hindi, and is the recipient of the Rückert Prize 2019. She lives in Allahabad.

Review of Blue is like Blue:

Vinod Kumar Shukla's world is set just a little bit askew and, thus, the quotidian becomes unusual, the mundane becomes remarkable. The reader is persuaded to marvel a new at the follies and foibles of the human species. – Arshia Sattar  

In what way is over-familiarity akin to the uncanny? In what sense are the lives we lead each day in rooms, streets, and shops not entirely our own? To find the answer to these questions, we must read the sui generis Vinod Kumar Shukla, whose work reminds us that deep originality will always finds its own home and language. His translators have taken up the questions and challenges his work poses, and these superb English versions constitute their response. – Amit Chaudhuri  

There’s a vein of gold in Chhattisgarh and it passes under Vinod Kumar Shukla’s house in Raipur. Shuklaji has been quietly mining it for the past half-century and more. The house key is encrypted, so a sensible prowler would give up and sit down with any book by this great original; these stories, deftly rendered, are an excellent place to start. – Irwin Allan Sealy


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