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Augusto Pinto

By Damodar Mauzo . Translated from the Konkani.
Rupa, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 200, Rs. 250.00


If Bhai (as Damodar Mauzo the Konkani writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner is fondly known in Goa) isn’t already in the canon of the great contemporary Indian short story writers, his nomination to the long list of the 25,000 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize, one of the richest Short Story Collection prizes in the world, for Teresa’s Man and Other Stories from Goa, 2014 issued by Rupa, indicates that he’ll be arriving there quite soon. Teresa’s Man is a collection of 14 short stories written over four decades, translated into English by Xavier Cota. This is Bhai’s second collection in Cota’s English translations, after These Are My Children, (Katha, 2007), while a third, translated by Vidya Pai and entitled Mirage and Other Stories, (Peepal Tree), was also released in late 2014. In much of his earlier translated fiction, which includes his celebrated first novel Carmelin, translated by Vidya Pai, Sahitya Akademi (2004), and his novella Tsunami Simon translated by Xavier Cota, (Ponytail Books, 2009), Bhai’s focus was on the minority Goan Catholic community, where ‘he often wrote about issues which the Christians themselves would shy away from discussing too openly’ as the sociologist Alito Sequeira avers. Bhai’s unique perspective emerged perhaps thanks to his experiences as a Saraswat brahmin shopkeeper in the predominantly Christian coastal village of Majorda in South Goa, where he had a ringside view of this community. However in the collection under review, apart from the title story ‘Teresa’s Man’ and ‘Coinsanv’s Cattle’, Bhai appears to be in a hurry to suggest that he has also written about the Goan Hindu community, and the longest story in the collection: ‘A Writer’s Tale’— is set in a seminar attended by writers from different States of India in cosmopolitan Delhi. Teresa’s Man has been well translated by Xavier Cota (though I will subject the translations to a critique in the second part of this review) and features stories that display Bhai’s mastery over a range of short story writing modes—from ‘The Vignaharta’ with an O Henry-like ‘twist in the tail’, where an impoverished but proud narrator is panicking because he doesn’t have enough money to celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi in an appropriate way and hence risks losing face in his family and community; to the Chekhovian slice-of-life ‘Happy Birthday’ which describes the pains a couple take, in order to keep ...

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