Mohanaswamy has just lost his long-time partner, Karthik, to a woman. Even as he scrutinizes himself, the choices he’s made, the friends and lovers he’s gained and lost, Mohanaswamy dreams of living a simple, dignified life. A life that would allow him to leave, even forget, the humiliation and fears of adolescence, the slurs his mind still carries around – gandu sule, hennu huli – and the despair that made him crave to conform.
A coming out of the closet for Vasudhendra himself, these stories of homosexual love and lives jolted Kannada readers out of their notions of the literary and the palatable. The gritty narratives of Mohanaswamy explore sexuality, urbanisation and class with a nuance and an unflinching honesty that will both unnerve and move readers in English and serve as a fine introduction to one of the strongest voices in Kannada literature.
Mohanaswamy is a LGBT fiction written in Kannada by Vasudhendra & translated to English by Rashmi Terdal. Vasudhendra has written 13 books in Kannada & has won many literary awards, including the Kannada Sahitya Academy Book Award, the Da Raa Bendre Story Award & the Dr U.R. Ananthamurthy Award. He runs his own publishing house, Chanda Pustaka & is associated with various LGBTQ support group. Translator Rashmi Terdal is a journalist with the Times of India, Bengaluru.
The story is about the life of Mohanaswamy, his journey from a young boy to a man in his fifties struggling to accept who he is & coping with the harsh realities of life being a gay man. The book has been divided into several chapters which are like short stories themselves but when the reader looks at the big picture, it all fits together. The book starts with our protagonist trying to deal with a difficult situation where he comes to know that his long time partner Karthik is going to marry a girl & is suddenly giving him a cold shoulder, as their relationship comes to an abrupt end he tries to move ahead in his life. The story then dwells into his past, where he encounters many humiliating slurs thrown at him which still haunts him. The story then moves forward as he grows older & the men he meets. To devour the stories of gay love, do get this book right now!
As it is the Pride month I had decided to read at least one Indian LGBTQ related story hence I picked up Mohanaswamy & I’m glad I did. The story of the protagonist does resonates the lives of several gay men from small towns trying their best to get out from there & find true love while fighting social stigma, nosy hypocritical relatives & neighbours but most importantly accepting yourself as who you are & THAT’S what makes this book special. Rashmi Terdal surely has done a splendid job translating the book. The cover, title & language everything is 100% satisfactory. This surely is one of a kind book & I do hope future authors get inspired reading it. A must read!