IIMB Professor M S Sriram wins the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award for his collection of short stories

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The collection of six stories, set mostly in the urban space, looks at the interplay between personal relations and societal issues

11 APRIL, 2016: Professor M S Sriram, Visiting Faculty, Centre for Public Policy, IIM Bangalore, has won the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award for his collection of short stories titled ‘Salman Khanana Difficultiesu’ (The difficulties of Salman Khan). On March 29, 2016, the Karnataka Sahitya Academy announced the awards for works published in 2013.

The awards ceremony is scheduled to be held on April 29, 2016 in Dharwad.

The book for which Prof. Sriram won the award contains a collection of six stories in Kannada, including the title story called ‘Salman Khanana Difficultiesu’. The other stories in the collection are ‘Suddi, Idu Suddi’; ‘Astitva’; ‘Munduvarayuvudu’; ‘Ondu Indian English Kathe’ and ‘Obba Vichitra Mitra, Avanadondu Patra’.

The book also has a long essay about Prof. Sriram’s own experiences in constructing a story, which was written at the request of the Kannada University, Hampi. Prof. Sriram has used the story ‘Astitva’ to explain the craft of storytelling from a writer’s perspective, listing in detail how the particular story was born, how it connects to his other writings, where he picked details, how he grappled with  doubts and the direct and indirect influences that went into the narrative.

Commending Prof. Sriram for writing on complex concerns of the real world, be it politics, cinema, philosophy, and the loneliness of the modern man, in simple language and with a touch of mischievous humour, contemporary writer Abdul Rasheed, observes in the blurb of the book, ‘….the stories must be savoured for their wry humour… (and) the author must be commended for carrying readers along until the very last line of the last story’.

The short stories are largely set in the urban space, mostly in Hyderabad and mofussil Telangana. The book tries to look at the interplay between personal relations, and put them on to the larger societal canvas, and uses contemporary events.

‘Salman Khanana Difficultiesu’ talks about an ardent Salman Khan fan, belonging to a very poor family, staying in a slum wanting to watch a Salman Khan release. It is a collage of tragic events in the family that circumstantially provide her with a possible opportunity to purchase the ticket, but then the opportunity is denied because of the morality of the family. It is wry and tragic.

‘Suddi, Idu Suddi’ is largely about quirky circumstances in which a person is dumped near a park that the morning walkers use due to a petty misunderstanding. The dumped person happens to be a dreaded Naxal activist who is supposedly underground. The story revolves around how the news is created around his “capture”.

‘Astitva’ is about identity. It has the backdrop of enrolment of people under the Aadhar project and three streams running. A baba appears in the village and becomes a cult figure. He does not speak and is called a ‘Mouni Baba’. A Naxal activist (the same who is captured in the earlier story) escapes police custody and adopts a disguise. A couple fight, and the husband disappears claiming that he is going for the Char Dham Yatra. The story alludes to the possibility that each of these characters could be the baba. But when the village wants to achieve a 100% enrolment under the Aadhar project, the baba disappears, leaving everyone to grapple with the identity mystery.

‘Munduvariyuvudu’ is set in the backdrop of suicides in the fallout of unpaid loans and looks at the interplay between somebody wanting to achieve professional excellence by being a good credit recovery officer and a client who is pushed to the brink.

‘Ondu Indian English Kathe’ is about a couple who have a disagreement over the course of a day. Over several phone calls, in which each of them tries to call to make up for the disagreement, the differences widen and the situation worsens.

‘Obba Vichitra Mitra, Avanadondu Patra’ is one of the early stories of the author which was included in the book, written in the form of a letter about a series of events that lead to the inevitability of living with somebody not by choice but by a quirk of events.

The Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award is a literary honour which the Academy, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit (under various categories such as novel, short stories, poems, travelogue, non-fiction/essays, translations and so on), published in the Kannada language.

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Preview attachment IIMB Faculty_Professor Sriram MS.JPG

IIMB Faculty_Professor Sriram MS.JPG