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Stories of Kolkata, its gods and its people

Suchitra Samanta

“Sanctuary” is a collection of short stories set in contemporary Kolkata. Its protagonists and actors draw from a spectrum of humanity, and are, among others, the affluent, the middle classes, the beggars, the prostitutes, and the working poor, in conflict, but also in affection and in kindness. However, while such a spectrum, and its human condition, may be found anywhere in the world, what distinguishes this anthology is that the characters of the stories play out the events of their lives in Kolkata: for example, in the precincts of Kalighat, the Goddess Kali’s temple, in Ballygunje, in Alipur, or in Behala. Kolkata, in both its chaos, its crowds, but also its charm, is centrally a protagonist in “Sanctuary.”

Suchitra Samanta Dr. Samanta holds a joint teaching position in the Department of Sociology (Women’s & Gender Studies), and the Department of Religion and Culture, at Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virgina Tech), in Blacksburg, USA.

Published by Dasgupta-Alliance
Hard Cover
Pages 125
Global Books Price $14.95



Prepublication comments::

The stories in Sanctuary are poignant and rich with texture. Not only do the characters emerge from the page, but the landscape is also alive. Suchitra Samanta writes with a vibrancy of place where we can taste the food and smell the environment. As she weaves stories of class struggle, racial tension, and women's identities together, Samanta tells of the multiple perspectives that shape cultures and families.
Dr. Katrina M. Powell Chair, Women's and Gender Studies Program Dept. of Sociology Virginia Tech

Is Kolkata a city of joy, of light, and a sanctuary, or only an inhumane urban space that reeks of poverty, decay, and brutal struggles of survival? In a set of moving stories Suchitra Samanta explores with compassion and insight individual lives of the teeming masses that inhabit Kolkata's fearsome cityscape. In the process, she allows readers a rare peek into the city's vibrant soul. A young woman struggling to escape the noose of her loveless marriage, a broken limbed Muslim beggar sharing his meal with an abandoned pie-dog, and an HIV positive sex worker, all walk the pages of Sanctuary. Samanta's narrative is resplendent in local color and fragrant with the smell of Kolkata's earth. A must read for people who want to know how other worlds work.
Dr. Shamita Das Dasgupta Author of A Patchwork Shawl; Body Evidence; Mothers for Sale.

Sanctuary beckons the reader into a richly imagined fictional world teeming with dramatically realized characters who struggle to bridge the differences that too often separate us as human beings. In seven gem-like narratives, Samanta plumbs the depths of the human desire for connection, the poignancy of loss, and the unexpected moments of “grace” when compassion forges bonds of love... Heavy with the pungency of aromatic and fetid odors as jasmine and sandalwood mix with rotting street scraps and open sewage; fraught with the intermingling of memory and desire; teeming with yearning and striving human characters whose social differences collide, this collection taps into the reader’s own desire for love, compassion, solace, and human grace, however one defines that term.
Dr. Moira Baker Professor of English, Radford University, Radford, Virginia.






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