Mai: Silently Mother

Paper Type: Book Print | Size:
Black and White; 224 pages; Hardback
ISBN-10: 8193393503 | ISBN-13: 978-81-933935-0-5


Behind the walls of a house in a North Indian town a whole world thrives—of the joint family, their attendants, their visitors. Three generations of women and their men live different strategies of adjustment and achievement to accommodate or challenge patriarchy. They seem to fit in recognised frames, but what are the subtle machinations behind the apparent stereotypes? It is that which the novel uncovers, in a tale told in deceptively simple terms, using smells, sounds, tastes and flavours, scenes and tiny signs, and incidents of a daily and ordinary existence to build, weave by weave, a rich and layered tapestry, saying always more than is apparent.

At the centre is Mai, the mother, seemingly weak and silent, but it is she who holds together the subtle patterns of relationships and agencies, and quietly carves out a life for herself as also for those around. Her New Age children are obsessed with rescuing her from the ‘prison’ and escaping themselves; but as the story unfolds, any simplistic notion of bondage and freedom goes for a toss. Profound stories of love and loss are lightly delivered.

Mai was her debut novel which was translated into English by Nita Kumar. This translation received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award in 2001.

Geetanjali Shree
Geetanjali Shree

Geetanjali Shree, writes novels and short stories in Hindi. Mai was her debut novel. Her much-acclaimed novels Tirohit and Khali Jagah have also been translated into English as The Roof Beneath Her Feet and The Empty Space respectively.

Her writings have been translated into multiple European and Indian languages and are a part of the syllabus in many universities across the world. The English translation of her novel Ret Samadhi, titled Tomb of Sand has been awarded International Booker Prize, 2022. Geetanjali Shree has also written an intellectual biography of Premchand, the doyen of Hindi literature, in English.

Nita Kumar
Nita Kumar

Nita Kumar is the Brown Family Professor of South Asian History at Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California. She is the author of The Artisans of Banaras (1988), Friends, Brothers and Informants (1992), Women as Subjects (1994), Lessons from Schools (2001) and The Politics of Gender, Community and Modernities (2007). Since 1990 she has also been engaged in innovative education in Varanasi, India, through both service and advocacy, working with children, teachers and families to develop curricula, fiction for children, arts materials and teachers’ training units.