Thursday, November 02, 2006

Politics of Literature
Contemporary Telugu Katha

Dr.P.Kesava Kumar

This paper maps the politics of the contemporary Telugu Katha. It is an attempt to locate the history of Telugu katha in order to contextualize the politics of antholoization over a period of time. With the advent of print culture the literary and cultural forms of oppressive social groups such as Dalits, women, adivasis, Telangana, Muslims got marginalized and literary elite (happened to be brahminical class) managed to establish their social experience and their literary imagination as ‘the Telugu literature’ in whatever the form it may be. With intensified struggles of these submerged groups, there comes a new literary consciousness with the emergence of middle classes from these sections. It will focus on how the struggles of society marked the literature, and especially in contemporary times from the decades of late eighties. On the one hand they are resisting the brahminical hegemony and on the other questioning the existing abstract idea of ‘class’ and ‘progressive’ literature by enriching their literature with the concrete life experiences/struggles. This paper argues that there is a need to redefine ‘progressiveness’ contextually by explaining through diverse claims of ‘best short story’ in telugu literature. It concludes that the methods of evaluation of the ‘best story’ has to be changed by considering specificity of the problems faced by particular social group and their unique style of expression rather generalizing.

Telugu Katha has emerged today as the most celebrated genre among other literary genres of Telugu society. It has evolved both in terms of content and narrative technique. The social struggles of contemporary times have paved the way for Katha to reach its heights. Contradictions in the Telugu society have surfaced and become further politicized from eighties onwards. The struggles in the name of class, caste, gender, region, nation has provided the social context for implicit politics of Telugu literature. Added to this, the policies of liberalization of economy, hindu communalization and globalization further brought about changes in social structure and its value system. Inequalities have become sharpened in these times of globalization. Insecurity prevails among all sections of society. To transform these inequalities into politicization requires a kind of cultural intervention. Literary forms like Katha have played a significant role in this political process by narrating a slice of the larger complex reality. Contemporary Katha broadens its horizons by accommodating/ asserting multiple identities of society, with new writers from different social groups making a mark through Katha. The writers as well as readers are conscious about their subjective positions, and any attempt to bring them to a unified fold had resisted/countered. This can be seen in the bringing out of different anthologies of short stories and the controversies around the claims of ‘best story.’
This paper maps this politics of the contemporary Telugu Katha. It is an attempt to locate the history of Telugu katha in order to contextualize the politics of antholoization over a period of time. With the advent of print culture the literary and cultural forms of oppressive social groups such as Dalits, women, adivasis, Telangana, Muslims got marginalized and literary elite (happened to be brahminical class) managed to establish their social experience and their literary imagination as ‘the Telugu literature’ in whatever the form it may be. With intensified struggles of these submerged groups, there comes a new literary consciousness with the emergence of middle classes from these sections. It will focus on how the struggles of society marked the literature, and especially in contemporary times from the decades of late eighties. On the one hand they are resisting the brahminical hegemony and on the other questioning the existing abstract idea of ‘class’ and ‘progressive’ literature by enriching their literature with the concrete life experiences/struggles. This paper argues that there is a need to redefine progressiveness contextually by explaining through diverse claims of best short story in telugu literature. It concludes that the methods of evaluation of the best story has to be changed by considering specificity of the problems faced by particular social group and their unique style of expression rather generalizing.
History of Telugu Short story
Literature is a creative rational knowledge generated by an individual/author about collective/society. Society is a collective of heterogeneous human beings and this heterogeneity depends on number of factors such as class, caste, gender, ethnicity, region, and religion etc. It may become acts as a source of knowledge where the individuals or authors usually reflects upon.[1]
In Telugu literature, story has an important role as a literary articulation and political expression. There is an opinion that modern story in Telugu began in 1910, with a story named ‘Diddubatu’ by Gurajada Apparao. Infact, Telugu story is as old as the language itself. It is in oral form. Written literature marginalized this kind of tradition of story telling. Till date the stories in oral tradition have survived though narrative techniques/forms underwent many changes. Telugu society has rich oral narrative tradition of story telling like any other society. There are many stories narrated by illiterate men/women in the backdrop of their social and political situation. The same story is transmitted from one generation to other reflecting the changing social conditions. There are many stories by nameless authors in circulation even today. Rather one may say that the author of the story is a social collective. One such grand story telling tradition is identified with ‘Pedarasi Peddamma Kathalu’(Poor old woman’s stories). Usually the illiterate grand women folk telling stories to young children in leisured nights starting every story with, ‘once upon a time there was a pedarasi peddamma’. It signifies the stories of poor people narrated from their social experiences. To make their stories impressive, story tellers invents different narrative techniques spontaneously. These stories unified with creativity, spontaneity, personal reflections on social conditions, inauguration of self and entertainment. This oral literature gives the sense of belongingness of a community and also acts as a source of collective wisdom. This rich story telling tradition of poor people got marginalized after the emergence of written literature. In simple words, print culture has negated space for marginalized cultures. In fact the emergence of literary elite even institutionalized the readers’ tastes too. (It is brahminical .)
The stories prior to modern times are mostly confined to traditional life (lives of the past) and history. The unique character of modernity is its realistic nature and it is contemporary. Modern story as part of fiction emerged with the influence of western liberal education and industrialization. The background for any story is its society. We can say story is a social document. It contains the social, economical and political history of a society. Generally story revolves around an incident or a problem or psychological state or about a character. In Telugu society, the writers moulded the story as a social experience rather mere literary phenomenon. In nineteenth and twentieth century writers of Europe, Russia and America preferred to be their stories as snapshots. On the other hand, nations like India had its pre modern narrative techniques. It is predominantly folkloristic. It undergoes constant change. The early story writers caught in a conflicting situation. One way the nativist tradition and other hand imitation of modern story of west. In Indian stories especially telugu literature has the unique feature of balancing the life styles of both rural and urban settings.’ The greatness of the Telugu story is a narration of balancing of folklore and stories emerged after the print culture. Styles are in the process of modernization of the life experiences of different artisan communities, dalits, adivasis.[2]
Till the end of first world war, story has no place among literates of Telugu literary world though its origin is as old as human history itself. Unlike poetry, novel, play, essay, short story had no importance. The reason might be it doesn’t help in capturing the life in detail and it is not a useful instrument in realizing the social purpose of the times. But it is helpful in reaching the heights of form. From its early times (1919) story got its importance in appreciation of form. The very entry of short story pushed aside all other popular literary genres. Short story got its popularity mainly through newspapers. Earlier literature is confined to few sections of the society. But the news papers democratized the literary atmosphere. The news papers are instrumental in introducing many writers to Telugu society. The advent of Bharati a literary magazine in 1942 brought a host of able story writers into light but the magazines that reached the masses for the first time was the Vinodini. The magazine created more story writers on one hand and more readers on the other. The success of Vinodini led to the advent of several magazines and all of them published short stories in the wake nationalist awakening that influenced Telugu literature, there was the impact of Bengali literature among the short story writers that made name before second world war, are Tripuraneni Gopichand, Palagummi Padmaraju, Buchibabu, Gokhale, Karunakumara. After the war there have been more short story writers than ever before. The advent of several new magazines, including a few, popular weeklies, has been the main cause for it. Two world wars influenced the world a lot and so the Telugu society. The post war period has witnessed significant change in literary outlook. Writers have come under the influence of socialist ideals and Marxism. The progressive movement, which came to India in about 1935, spread to Andhra in 1943. As a result progressive writers association was formed. The earlier writers were inspired by ideas of freedom and nationalism which germinated on account of nationalist struggle. Now it was the turn of the socialist ideas to influence the younger generation. The progressive writers tried their level best to achieve realism. The realistic literature became universal phenomenon in Telugu literature. But the writers failed to take their socialist ideals in concrete life situations.
Early modern telugu story internalized the oral tradition and ideology of modernity (1910).In the period of 1920-29, telugu society influenced by nationalist movement. On one hand it raised the question of freedom and individual personality and on the other hand set an ideal for collective social action. Chalam and Chinta Deekshitulu are representatives of this period. Chalam’s stories exposed the social morality of traditions, Karunakumara depicted the rural life and Ma Gokhale wrote stories about the suffering masses. In the period 1930-39 stories of Chalam, Viswanatha, Sripada Subramanya Sastry, Malladi Ramakrishna Sastri. This is the period of social turmoil. The issues related to untouchability and caste, women’s problem and freedom and made an attempt to outlining the ideal from the perspectives of both tradition and modernity. In the period 1940-44, the Telugu writers influenced by second world war and intensified nationalist struggles. Along with anti-colonial ideology, it also generates the questions within nationalist movement. i.e. stories of Viswanatha and Sarada.1944-49 is the period India got freedom and it is a time of Telangana liberation struggle got intensified. Marxism started influencing the writers of Telugu society. Writers started writing with class consciousness, i.e. Chaso, Sarada. And some of the writers searching the psychological explanations of individual behaviour. i.e. Buchibabu. In 1950-59 reflects the changes of Telugu society after the second world war. The stories depicted the transformation of village towards modern society i.e. Sree Sree and Kodavatiganti Kutumbarao. There are different kind of writers interested in more philosophical questions and moved towards metaphysics in search of solutions for crisis-ridden individual existence. i.e. Palagummi Padmaraju, Buchibabu and Gopichand. 1960-69 is a turning point in Indian social life and politics. This is the time of political decentralization. Many new writers came into the scene. The moral questions raised by earlier generation of writers demanded an explanation from social, economical and political life, i.e Kaleepatnam Ramarao, Rachakonda Viswanatha Sastry. Many women writers started writing i.e. P. Sreedevi, Illendula Saraswatee Devi. The period 1970-79 influenced by Naxalite struggle of Srikakulam, the tribal revolt and formation of Revolutionary writers association as a consequence. This sets the new revolutionary life in stories, i.e. Bhushanam. In 1980-89, new writers like Allam Rajaiah, Volga, Namini Subrahmany Naidu, Boyi Jangaiah, K.N.Y. Patanjali, Mahendra. They tried to capture the multifaceted personality and social life of individual. Most of the writers had the conviction that one’s own experience should be the basis for understanding the meaningfulness of life. In 1990-94, there is a curiosity among the writers to tell the story in novel way. They are after invention of style of the story to reach out their readers effectively. This is the period of identity politics are very much influenced the literature. Altogether sets the new canons and standards in literature by dismissing the social positions and privileges of earlier celebrated writers. The question of authenticity and representation debated well in defining or narrating the story.[3]
Politics of Literature
From the decade of eighties onwards witnessed various social and political struggles in Telugu society. Some of the prominent political movements are intensified Naxalite struggles, dalit, women and separate Telangana struggles. These struggles influenced the literary and cultural movements too. Especially, literature is identified with these political movements. Politics and literature become inseparable. Within the alternative political struggles, different political positions emerged and so with the literature.
Prior to this phenomenon, the questions came out, what is literature? For whose one has to write? As an out come of this debates, Abhyudaya Rachayatala Sangham ( Progressive writers association, popularly known in Telugu as Arasam) and later Viplava rachayatala sangham(Revolutionary writers association, popularly known in Telugu as Virasam).These literary organizations came in support of political struggles and committed to communism. Mostly these literary organizations had set the standards of literature. Writers should be committed to political ideology and their writings should help in liberating the people from exploitation. Literature other than this kind is considered as reactionary, commercial and non-serious.
Over the period of time, the revolutionary literature become monotonous and mostly ends with the elevation of martyrs in the revolutionary struggle. It lost the grip over its readers. On one hand the situation demands in literature, new ways of dealing the social reality. And on the other hand, the struggles of dalits and women started contesting the politics of revolutionary struggles and these struggles providing new tools in understanding social reality. This is very much reflected in telugu literature. Any effort to see in unification is resisted.

Anthologies of Telugu Short Story
In sixties, telugu literary world is occupied by the novel. It is the time with the motive of profit making capital entered in the arena of publication work.[4] Bringing out short story collection is not a recent phenomenon. Some of the best stories came in Telugu katha 60-85, it is the land mark in the history of anthologies of short stories. This came with the editorship of Vasireddy Naveen and got published by Hyderabad Book Trust. Apart from the Katha Sahiti, initially started in cities/towns and extended to mandals. Vedagiri communications, Vahini Book Trust from Hyderabad, Visala Sahitya Academy from Jagityala, Rama Publications which is known for bringing out the dalit stories from Ananthapuram, Jesta literary trust from Vizag, Vanguri Foundation of America from abroad came with some anthologies of short stories. Futher, Visalandhra, Prajasathi Publications and literary organizations like Virasam and Janasahiti too edited some volumes of short stories. Kaleepatnam Ramarao initiated a reference library exclusively for short stories in the name of Kathanilayam at srikakulam. After the very beginning of this Katha series of kathasahiti generated debate about short story and many anthologies of stories came into existence, Kathavedika, Katha sravanthi series, Katha-patrika and the number of publications of short stories got increased’[5].The competition in the everyday social life and mental make up of struggle for success, not allowing the readers to spend time in reading novels. As a consequence Katha again got its prominence’[6].

In this context, anthologies of short stories under the editorship of Papineni Shivasankar and Vasireddy Naveen got the public attention. Vasireddy Naveen worked for some time as editor for Janasahiti, a left wing magazine. As Vallampati Venkatasubbaiah, the literary critic opinioned that in case of assessing strength and taste of short story anthology of Kathasahiti series, these two are ideal combination. As he acknowledged that Vasireddy had the background of the ideology of struggles(Marxist ideology) to understand the short story. Where as Papineni Sivasankar had the academic rigor in terms maintaining objectivity, and value of the content of the story.’[7] These two are identified with broad progressive politics and belong to upper caste Kamma. They get financial support from Telugu Association of Northern America (TANA) publish this yearly short story series. From the year ninety onwards, every year they used to bring out the selected ‘best’ Telugu short stories from published in various magazines and news papers in that year.[8] Many of the writers started feeling prestigious to publish in Katha series and created a competition among them. Some of the writers are exclusively writing by using all their literary efforts to get published in that series. However, Katha series got institutionalized and faced lot of criticisms from different corners in the course of time.
Consciously or unconsciously there are many attempts to resist the institutionalization of Kathasahiti and its notion of best story in the light of respective alternative political struggles. Virasam tried to redefine ‘revolutionary story’ in the wake of dalit and women struggles. It brought the short stories collection in the name of Katha Keratalu (2001), selected stories from 1989 to 1999.Fifty stories are in this collection. They mentioned in the introduction that these stories are essentially about people and their struggles. These stories are literary reflection of the crisis ridden and conflicting decade that responsible for many changes, struggles, sacrifices and for the rise of new questions. These are the stories of the life transforming from one stage to other qualitatively.’[9] Out of fifty stories only two stories of this volume are appeared in Kathasahiti series, i.e. Allam Rajaiah’s Atadu and Karuna’s Tayamma Katha.
Sahitimitrulu of Vijayawada brought a story collection with the same name Katha, Smayamu- Sandharbhamu. The importance of this collection seems to resist the institutionalization and monopolization of Kathasahiti. They picked up ten stories of the year 2000. Along with the story, it included the context of their story given by the writer and an analysis of a story by a critic. Most of these writers stories are regularly appear in katha series. Four out of ten stories are in Kathasahiti’s Katha2000 i.e. R.M.Umamaheswara Rao’s Norugalla Aadadi, Mahammad Khadher Babu’s New Bombay Tailors, Gopini Karunakar’s Kanugapula Vana, Kuppili Padma’s Instant Life.
In the same time Yemesco Publishers brought a story collection named Vandella Telugu Katha(2001), An anthology of 20th century representative stories under the editorship of China Veerabhadrudu.

Politics of ‘Best Story’
The production of best story invariably related to publishing, political ideology and reception of story by its readers. In telugu literature, story emerged as an important and promising genre by internalizing the social life, politics and techniques or styles of narration from the decade of nineties. There are many attempts in defining the best story in this period. Political ideology played a role in an attempt to define the best story. One such attempt is katha series brought out by Kathasahiti. This series got popularity and institutionalized for publishing the volume of best stories of particular year regularly. For them financial resource is not a serious problem since most of its expenditure met by the non resident Telugus, especially from TANA. Kathasahiti set the competition among the writers to get the attention of this series. The question here is what kind of stories attracted by the editors of these series. The answer has the implication in defining the best story in Telugu. As they told in their introduction, they are after ‘good’, ‘realistic’, ‘serious and sincere depicting the social experience’, ‘heterogeneity/multiplicity’ and ultimately ‘having a balancing style’. This may accommodate any story without concerning the political stand of the writer. Both from left to conservative camps faced the challenge in selection of story. Ultimately there exists a danger in ending up this series of best stories which are not touched by the issues of caste, gender, region, class exclusively.

Time and again debated in Telugu literature, what is the best story. The discussion between Kodavatiganti Kutumba rao and Palagummi Padmaraju concluded that to be a story first it requires form, second realistic nature and third, the purpose in relation to truths of life.’[10] In question of best story is debated Telugu literary society in late nineties. Different story collections came with their own political markings. The question of inclusion and exclusion is the primary contesting point. This is the time that Telugu story reached celebrated heights both in content and form. ‘For any anthology has a priority arena and had a specific literary value. Since for any anthology comprises of selection and exclusion of some stories, so that maintains its own political value.’[11]
In the context of celebration of Telugu story in contemporary times, there are many efforts from the writers and critics to caricature the best story. To standardize their political interest they become editors of the story collections. It generated the controversy on the reasons for exclusion or inclusion of particular story in that collection. However, it generated interest and discussion on literary genre story. The question of what is the best story is not resolved and made further difficult and each one gave their own interpretations. There is no agreement on the best story. One’s own political perspective is ultimately determining the fate of best story.
Kathasahiti with a moderate and broad progressive outlook tries to establish the idea of best story. The editors made a conscious effort to define best story through the publication of selected stories. The process got institutionalized and so the best story. In the name of best story editors of Kathasahiti established their own notion of best story. As one literary critic pointed out, the people who are going through the story collections of Kathasahiti from Katha 90 to Katha 96, the definition of best story become inidentifiable. By celebrating the idea of good day for story, there is a conscious and visible attempt to make a story a stuff beyond space, time and class.’[12]

The main criticism against this Katha series and its editors is on the question representation of ideology. There is a strong opinion that these editors represent the leftist ideology. Some of the critics supported them for the ideology they representing, but some of the critics felt that there is a possibility of best stories which are not necessarily represents the leftist ideology. They advised the editors to include other stories apart from representing the leftist ideology.
Jampala V.Choudhary, non resident Indian (NRI) who is interested in Telugu literature expressed his suspicion, the reason for many stories belongs to leftist ideological consciousness are in these volumes is that the editors representing that particular ideology. He made his point by saying that best stories were not necessarily to represent the leftist ideology. He had the opinion that the all the stories which are publishing in this Katha series are not necessarily best stories. Some of the stories are not reached the standards to publish in this series. He criticized the Kathasahiti for not including such a great story Mithunam written by Sriramana.’[13] Sriramana’s writings represent the non-leftist ideology. One kind nostalagic hindu ideology. The story is about the loneliness and mutual sharing and care of an old Brahmin couple where all their children living abroad or away from them. Seela Verraju, short story writer the editors belongs representing leftist ideology and selection of stories accordingly may help the critics in selection of the stories but it is not belittle the standards of this Katha series.[14] Amarendra, writer and literary critic felt that writers who are committed are of four kinds. The first category of writers, those who are narrating their experiences to others. The second category explains the philosophy of life that emerged from their experiences and readings. These two categories are individual centred. The third category belongs to the writers who anticipating change in the world. They are reform oriented. And the fourth category are legitimize the change in the society. This kind of writers needs ideological clarity and courage to stand against consequences to fight against the system. In Kathasahithi volumes mostly finding the stories belongs to fourth category is not accidental. That reflects the commitment of the editors. He too expresses that the not limiting themselves to the last category, they may give preference to others categories. There is possibility of having best stories!’[15]
Vallampati Venkatasubaiah reacting on this issue argues that it is true that there are many stories representing the leftist ideology. In the literary world not only the content of the story but also aesthetics are emerges only from contemporary life. In contemporary times, life is in such a way influenced by the leftist ideology, and there is best literature is producing from it, is natural to many stories from leftist ideology represented in these Kathasahiti series. He further cautioned the editors, the stories which don’t have balance in form and content, and there is no proper objectivity-that stories could not be best stories though they have influenced by leftist ideology.’[16] He explained that there are many stories in these anthologies which are individualistic and anti left stories and the stories not at all influenced by leftist ideology.
The non-leftist ideology dubbed in the name of human relationships by some of the writers and critics. Chekuri Ramarao, literary columnist and critic argues that there are many stories in these anthologies that go beyond the political beliefs of these writers. In fact these editors are very much after the stories of healthy human relations. Abburi Chayadevi, the short story writer too felt for including the stories that captures the crisis in human relationships.
N. Venugopal, literary critic and a member of Revolutionary Writers Association (Virasam) pointed out heterogeneity without any criticism is no way either acceptable or helpful. Sometimes there is enormous heterogeneity that no helping the refinement of people’s life and even the writer too may narrate marvelously. But in enlighten the readers consciousness, that story may not have any value. The stories which selected in this series with the idea of multiplicity reflected in this way. These kinds of stories go against the standards set by the editors of these particular anthologies. As the editors kept the standards in defining the best story, ‘seriousness’, ‘good’, reflecting the life in realistic fashion than misrepresenting, ‘enriching the life experiences and refining personality’, ‘integrity of form’. The stories in the name of heterogeneity/multiplicity could not come under this category of ‘best story’. One may give any definition for the best story when the deviation from the standards set by themselves.’[17]
Bhamidipati Jagannatharao who responded from the point of post modernism, hints the editors change their ideological perspective. This is the time to change their perspective rather holding rigid political framework. The historical necessity of the day is feminist, dalit and minority literature to come on the basis of gender, caste and religion.’[18] M.Sreedhar and Alladi Uma too are critical about the ideological perspective of editors and their story collections. After getting the popularity and the organization got institutionalized, the stories which are not satisfying their taste used to get rejected by them. These anthologies mostly reflected the themes of globalization and changes in society and values, changing agrarian relations of the village, pressure of market forces, complexity, conflict and changing human relationships of modern life. Though they have the stories reflecting the problems of women, dalits and regional disparity but they are not got much importance as above said themes. It seems the writers had a low opinion about these kinds of stories. It seems pre established opinions of the editors in case form and language are not allowing many stories under their consideration. In the context where many problems relating to lower strata of women, dalits and regions are surfacing, it demanding space for the importance of narratives, and autobiographical stories.’[19][20]

Redefining ‘Progressiveness’
The way out for this kind of situation can be seen by identifying these editors as belongs to ‘broad left’ .This may be partially true, but one has to see the context that these editors set in. So far the stories for a period of decade from 1990-2000, are primarily changing land relations, crisis in human relationships and effects of globalization. In the language of the left, it is ‘economic contradictions’. Conservative politics too got space in the name of ‘human relationships’ or ‘heterogeneity’. The stories represented in these collections may met the standards set by the editors in terms of seriousness, good in both content and form and realistic representation of life experiences from the writers point of view. There is no dispute about this in identifying as best story. Though these people claims as leftist, there is serious dissent from radical left, particularly from Revolutionary Writers Association (popularly known as Virasam) both in politics of selection and defining of best story. It is evident that most of the writers from Virasam withdraw their stories from this story competition. On the other the stories depicting the armed class struggle are having no place in these collections. The Kathasahiti is not interested to explicit narration of armed struggles. They expect soft politics or politics narrated through their stories in much abstraction. The stories of Virasam writers are rejected on the basis of poor style. The Virasam felt that revolutionary literature is the only people’s literature. Literature should help in prepare and conscientizing the people towards class struggle. Keeping this view they brought the Kathakeratalu, the revolutionary stories of a period 1990-2000.It is not only resisted the Kathasahiti and tried to define the story for the liberation of exploited people. Kathakeratalu too take the note of changing notion of class in the context of feminist and dalit struggles, rather rigid to stick up their earlier conception of class.

The decade of nineties in telugu literature is got influenced by the struggles of Dalits, women and people of underdeveloped regions of Andhra. It has provided new language to telugu literature. They brought the literature into concrete life experiences. They declared their life as a literary piece. Their life is a testimony for literature. It needs no certificate of authentication from others. Their literary expression sometimes may appear raw, and had no sophistication. They may not be mastered in terms of technique or style as upper caste/male/Andhra writers in terms of cultural capital. As Alladi Uma pointed out most their writings are autobiographical forms. On the other hand, all these struggles are against the mechanical application of class. They focused more on bringing change in social and cultural sphere. It doesn’t mean that their struggles are not having economic implication. But the people who claims themselves as ‘progressive’(this may read as anti-dalit, anti-womem, and anti-telangana) had low opinion about these struggles( based on the non-seriousness, state submissiveness character of these struggles).These struggles may not well organized like class struggles led by Naxalite parties, but the questions raised by these groups are serious. However, progressiveness of Kathasahiti is not serious in considering the stories of this category. Kathasahiti may feel there is problems with the politics and resolutions of these stories. In Katha97, Vallampati Venkatasubaiah wrote an essay on the stories of that year; this is bad time for the story and certified that he didn’t find any good story in that year. This can be understood as the entry of many dalit and women writers and started writing stories. Kathasahiti has no other way except to publish these stories. The editors may have compliant that though they are sympathetic to these issues but their stories had in bad form and no innovative style or narrative technique. So it is obvious to conclude that much of these kind of stories were not included in their kathasahiti.
Against this kind of literary hegemonization, we find many collections of short stories. In the same time appeared many story collections in telugu by individual writers and organizations. The stories came with certain political purpose. The stories are identified with particular literary movements. Literature goes along with respective social movements. Liberation is the underlying principle of these struggles. The emerged intellegensia of related social group responded to the struggles and gave literary articulation to their problems. They used literature as an effective tool in sharing their politics in civil society. It is obvious that the stories are categorized as Dalit, Feminist, Telangana, Rayalaseema stories. Some of the story collections comes under this kind are – womens stories by Volga Rajakeeya Kathalu, Kuppilipadma’s Muktha and dalit stories by Yendlui Sudhakar’s Mallemoggala Godugu , Nagappagari Sundararaju ‘Madigodu kathalu’, Gundedappu Kanakaiah’s Dalit stories, B.S.Ramulu Smrithi. , Dalit Kathalu series by K. Laxminarayana ,and region specific stories like Seemakathalu, Nagavali Kathalu, Vamsadhara Kathalu ,and Muslim stories of Khadeerbabu’s Dargamitta kathalu. Apart from these story collections there are many young writers came with a fulfillment of this mission. Most of the individuals brought their story collections with their own financial resources. Most of the times the conscious group emerged from particular social group because of ongoing social struggles and it provides the courage to the writers to publish their stories. The social struggle guarantees the readership and financial support from concerned social group. However, writers of this kind, has to face financial crisis relatively in comparison with Kathasahiti in publishing their work.
Under these circumstances, it is difficult to define the best story. The very definition of best story is linked up with the politics it represented. In fact, the contemporary social struggles dismantled the notion of best story acceptable to all. There we find no neutral readers as well as writers. The best story for one may not be necessarily best for other unless until there emerged a universal category. The universal category that internalized all these diverse politics sincerely has only qualification to judge the best story. But telugu society is till not reached this stage.


[1] Society is a collective of heterogeneous human beings and this heterogeneity depends on number of factors such as class, caste, gender, ethnicity, region, and religion etc. It may become acts as a source of knowledge where the individuals or authors usually reflects upon. In other words, individuals will always have multiple identities. The conditions make him to push up one of the identities for the emancipation in which he feels discomfort or problematic and at the same time thinks about the identity which can bring the individual as collective. In other words, individuals will always have multiple identities. The conditions make him to push up one of the identities for the emancipation in which he feels discomfort or problematic and at the same time thinks about the identity which can bring the individual as collective. In a society, the access to natural resources is some individuals are denied either naturally or socially. The denial of access, restricts the individuals to a particular set of social relations which create discomfort in the individual and forces it to struggle against such restrictions and change the oppressive relations. During these periods of discomfort, the society sends signals of unrest demanding a change in the social relations of the society. This discomfort in the society is variably called contradiction, problem, or disharmony of the society. In such a state of discomfort, the individual or the author becomes an observer and assess the objective reality. The author in its role as a subject, evaluates the society in a two step process, namely subjective perceptions and their abstractions. So that the author can construct a model of society in the mental space, improve the model and recreates the model of society in such a way that original discomfort by which it was influenced, is removed. This creative ideal/model takes the form of a story, a novel, a poem or a song and introduced back into the society. The author can receive/ select a particular signal and create a story such that solution is offered. A story has a purpose first to highlight the problem/discomfort and then offer a creative solution, if possible, at the end. The story may influence its readers either to numb, or to entertain or to activate him in particular direction that depends on the world view of the author. To be conscious of his/her subjective position or in assessing the society/objective world, the struggles around him will influence him/her.

[2] Chinaveerabadhrudu,Vadrepu Vandella Telugu Katha p.10

[3] As the renowned Telugu writer and scholar, Kodavatiganti Kutumbarao confessed that ‘I belong to a modest middle class. With that modesty I can write progressive writings but could not create people’s literature and working-class literature. So my writings could not inspire the masses and class. But among middle class, it brings transformation in favor of people’s life. To be a success, a great story writer depends on how far s/he succeed in this regard.’ ( Kutumbarao, Kodavatiganti Naa Katha Rachana, In Sahitya Vyasalu Viplava Rachayatala Sangham, A.P. : May 2001 p.160)

Kodavatiganti Kutumbarao in 1935 had an observation that, Telugu story has to develop a lot and needs a assertion of strong ideological point than to day. Further all the stories revolving around Brahmin families. In the stories written about samsarlu (other non-brahmins) finds exaggerated lies and misrepresentations. Moreover, writers are not coming to give special importance to these problems. But Telugu society is not confined itself to brahmins and graduated youth. The primay business of telugus is not even love making of men and women .But most of the stories reflecting only this trend. The reason for this is writers are not aware much of social life from all the directions.’ (Ibid. koku. Katharachana , sahitya vyasalu p.187 )

4 It is the time with the motive of profit making capital entered in the arena of publication work. There came even new magazines to suit the interest of leisured class and many novels came in the form of serials. In place of values of life, struggle and social contradictions individual’s dissatisfaction and the dream world of youth become the subject of these writings. in the course of time, crime and sex occupied this commercial literature. In this kind of atmosphere, the space for telugu katha got marginalized.’[4] Though the fans of short story had the feeling of Telugu katha in 1960s and 70s is in crisis. This opinion is registered may be because of the celebration of commercial novel. Though the news papers are not given importance to story and many well established senior writers stopped writing stories, Telugu katha has not collapsed totally. Exactly at this time many young writers started writing stories’.

[5] Ravibabu, Kathapalli in Katha99, p.231

[6] Ibid.231

[7] Venkatasubbaiah, Vallampati In Katha 99 p.233

[8] There are many best stories got rejected by the publishers of news papers and magazines will have automatically excluded in its consideration in Kathasahiti series.
[9] Rajayya, Allam, A.Appalnaidu, T.Sreenivasa Murthy, Bhammidi Jagadheeswara Rao (Ed.)Viplava Rachayatala Sangham Katha Keratalu Virasam Kathalu (1989-1999) Virasam:January 2001 P. v-vi

[10] Kutumbarao, Kodavatiganti Naa Katha Rachana, In Sahitya Vyasalu Viplava Rachayatala Sangham, A.P. : May 2001 p.160 Koku , Uttamakatha , Sahitya Vyasalu p.212

[11] Chinaveerabhadrudu, Vandella telugu katha, eirayallo satabdi pratinithi kathala sankalanam, Vijayawada: Yemesco, 2001, p.7

[12] Venugopal, N. Katha Sandarbham Hyderabad: Swecha sahiti, 2000 p.75

[13] Chodhary, Jampala V. Oka Dasabdapu Telugunadu katha In Katha 99 p.216

[14] Seelaverraju p.221

[15] Amarendra, Kathasahiti sankalanala gurinchi In Katha 99 p.233

[16] Venkata subbaiah, vallampati Katha 99 p.234

[17] Venugopal, N. Vimarsanatmaka abhinandana, Katha99 p.219

[18] Jagannatharao, Bhamidipati Katha99 p.226

[19] Sreedhar,M. and Alladi Uma Eesankalanalu anuvadakulaku bangaruganulu In Katha 99 p.229

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