The Buffalo Thief


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Jhotta the buffalo lives in the small Ganges town of Mardpur. She is looked after by little Deepa and her blind grandmother Amma, who is renowned for her stories and visions. Idyllically happy, Jhotta produces a rich, creamy milk from which Amma makes the most delicious yoghurt. But Amma has foreseen her own death and urgently wants a story to be told -- a tale of princes and rajahs, smugglers and hidden treasure. All she needs is a suitable writer.

Raman feels blessed by good fortune. Why struggle like his sari-trading brothers? The family lychee orchard and his work for the town's journalist are enough. His contentment is abruptly ended, however, by his formidable sister-in-law, Sudha-with-Pension. Who will provide proper dowries for his twin daughters Meera and Mamta? His problems seem insoluble, until a visit to his acquaintance Amma and a bowl of Jhotta's yoghurt suddenly changes everything. Raman will write a novel, a bestseller, no less. It will be hard enough to overcome the town's disbelief, his family's opposition and the rivalry of a scheming Brahmin. But can Raman also secure a supply of the yoghurt that seems to have such a miraculous effect on his creative powers?

In an absorbing, richly populated narrative, Yojana Sharma surveys the obsessions of small-town India -- class, caste and property -- with a wry, subversive eye. Told with the deceptive charm of a fable, The Buffalo Thief brings Mardpur vividly to life in an acutely observed and witty portrait of an India struggling to adapt its romantic past and village traditions to the coming of the modern age. It is an ambitious and impressive debut from a talented new writer.


Format: Hardcover
Year published: 1999

Pages: 480
Imprint: Doubleday

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