Paraja: A Novel

Mohanty, Gopinath
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From Barnes and "Written originally in Oriya in 1945 and translated here for the first time, Paraja is a classic of modern Indian fiction. It tells on an epic scale the story of a tribal patriarch and his family in the mountainous jungles of Orissa. The slow decline in the fortunes of this family - from the quiet prosperity of a subsistence livelihood towards bondage to the local moneylender - is both poignantly individualized as well as symbolic of the erosion of a whole way of life within peasant communities. The novel, furthermore, transcends what it documents because its characters are not merely primitive tribesmen ensnared by a predatory moneylender. Mohanty's protagonists are also quintessentially men and women waging heroic but futile war against a hostile universe. As the citation of the Jnanpith Award of 1974 put it - 'in Mohanty's hands the social is lifted to the level of the metaphysical'.