Folklore are the world’s oldest stories. India is replete with them. All corners of the country can boast of their own set of different oral stories that have been passed down from one generation to another.
Yet the 20th and 21st century (and perhaps earlier too?) there have been authors who have created exceptional fictional worlds, after being inspired by folklore and legends. They rewrite them. They create their own. They interweave fiction and folklore creating a rich tapestry of story telling, adding to our country’s own storytelling traditions.
Here’s our Top 5:
- Chouboli and Other Stories: Volume 1 & 2 by Vijaydan Detha: These bold stories intermingle oral sources and oral narrative techniques with the literary form of the short story. This creates unique tales that boldly interrogate gender norms and societal expectations. Read one of his short stories, Dilemma or Duvidha in Hindi here.
- The Legends of Pensam by Mamang Dai: This novel is an evocative tribute to the Adis of Arunachal Pradesh and weaves together folklore with the stories, beliefs and history of the tribe.
- Feminist Fables by Suniti Namjoshi: Feminist Fables countered the patriarchal values entrenched in our folklore. Namjoshi mixed Indian and Greek myths with her own witty fictions to create fables and tales that speak of the female and the feminine. Some of the fables from Feminist Fables can be found in The Fabulous Feminist which is a collection of Namjoshi’s work over the years.
- Son of the Thundercloud and Don’t Run, My Love by Easterine Kire: Both the novels fuse Naga legends with the fictional stories of their protagonists, producing novels that are absolute magic!
- Daura by : Although this list already features a work from Rajasthan, I could not resist adding Daura at the end! Daura is a quick read (only 150 pages long!). This is a true example of fiction meeting folklore as the entire ethos of the novel is steeped in magical and mysterious folklore and its presence is so overwhelming that a character itself becomes one with the myth.
Do you know of other such collections that merge folklore with fiction? Do comment and share below!