The Father of Man

09 January 2016
Sandhya Visvanathan
Sandhya Visvanathan

Saikat Majumdar’s wonderfully incantatory story, “The Father of Man,” is about political expediency and the deviousness of the young. It casts an ironic eye on the current political climate, and imagines habits of sophistry that may breed within it. It does so, not from the outside, as material for news reportage or citizenly judgement, but, as befits fiction, from a compromised but also vulnerable insider view.

“The Father of Man” was summarily dropped by Mint Lounge, just as the paper was on the point of carrying it in a year-end fiction special issue. Mint's editor, R Sukumar, did not respond to an email from Vantage inquiring into the reasons for the story’s dismissal.Majumdar was told earlier that the decision was taken at the advice of the Mint’s “legal team” and that the newspaper did not want to publish the story because of “the violence of the words." The dropping of the short story is in many ways a sign of the times. In the public domain, the respect for others’ sensibilities seems to be overwhelmed by demands for silence, and the urge of writers, artists and others to sew up their own mouths. Often, no distinction is made, as Majumdar points out below, for the special qualities of fiction and its ambivalent effects.

We are glad to publish The Father of Man on Vantage and let readers decide for themselves.

Statement from Saikat Majumdar

I must come clean: as a fiction-writer, I just cannot muster enough enthusiasm about the moral. Or for that matter, the immoral. I try my best to be moral as a citizen, a teacher, a critic, a colleague and partner and friend and father, and I cannot help but wonder when I succeed and when I fail. But fiction, for me, unscrambles the tapestry of moral value; it offers rough weather even to the demands of a political conscience.

Saikat Majumdar is the author, most recently, of the novel, The Firebird (2015). He has also published a book of criticism, Prose of the World (2013), and an earlier novel, Silverfish (2007). He teaches world literature at Stanford University and is a visiting professor at Ashoka University.

Keywords: literature Saikat Majumdar
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