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The Train That Had Wings

Selected Stories of M. Mukundan

Subjects: Asian Studies, South/Southeast Asia
Open Access : 9780472901678, 152 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, September 2020

Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities / Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program
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A collection of story-vignettes by one of India’s best contemporary authors


The Train That Had Wings presents modern life in Kerala in terms of a shared but tragically compromised humanity. Mukundan dares to look beneath the routines and facades of everyday life in order to probe depth of sin, greed, and hypocrisy but also to rediscover what brings joy and hope.Sixteen short story translations and a critical introduction, offering examples of Mukundan's realistic, existentialist, psychedelic, and parabolic stories, show his range and talent for the very short story. If Hawthorne wrote “twice told tales,” Mukundan writes half-told tales, stories that jump in the middle, stomp around for just a minute, and leap away almost before the reader can settle in. Half-told, but a powerful and infectious half.

M. MUKUNDAN is one of the most successful modernist authors in Malayalam literature. He has acquired a considerable following among the literati and the general populace of Kerala, a small state of palm trees, trading ports, and paddy fields in southwestern India. Mukundan is best known for his compelling descriptions of life in the culturally heterogenoeous small former French colony called Mahe in present-day Kerala. His most beloved works are his novels—On the Banks of the Mayyazhi River, God’s Mischief, and The Lamentations of Kesavan. But for experiments with language, images, and style, Malayalam literature is indebted to Mukundan’s short stories.
Donald R. DAVIS Jr. is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.