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The stories in Dolls’ Wedding, by the finest short-story writer in modern Telugu, are nuanced, hard-hitting and marked by the total absence of sentimentality. A tightly constructed plot relies on a minimalist portrayal of characters—among them beggars, peasants, widows, children and the upwardly mobile middle class—whose pragmatism drives them to break convention and fight for their survival. The aged auditor’s young wife in ‘Got to Go to Eluru’ seduces an adolescent boy in order to produce a son who will protect her status when she is widowed; in ‘Firewood’, a peasant girl overcomes fear and speaks out when she is falsely accused of theft. A realist devoid of ideologies, Chaso was deeply interested in the actual life and the inner world of people around him. These luminous translations bring Chaso to a new audience.

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