Sangati is a startling insight into the lives of Dalit women who face the double disadvantage of caste and gender discrimination. Written in a colloquial style, the original Tamil version overturns the decorum and aesthetics of upper-caste, upper-class Tamil literature and culture and, in turn, projects a positive cultural identity for Dalits in general and for Dalit women in particular.
Sangati flouts received notions about what a novel should be and has no plot in the normal sense. It relates the mindscape of a Dalit woman who steps out of her small town community, only to enter a caste-ridden and hierarchical society, which constantly questions her caste status. Realizing that leaving her community is no escape, she has to come to terms with her identity as an educated, economically independent woman who chooses to live alone. In relating this tale, Bama turns Sangati into the story not just of one individual, but of a pariah community.
About the Author
Bama is one of the first Dalit women writers to be widely recognized and translated. Her writings include an autobiography, Karukku (1992), a novel, Sangati (1994; translated into English by Lakshmi Holmstrom, OUP 2005), and a collection of short stories, Kisumbukaaran (1996).
Lakshmi Holmstrom has translated Tamil novels and short stories by many modern writers. She has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award (Iyal Virudhu) by the Canada Tamil Literary Garden, Toronto.
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