Book Review – River Of Flesh And Other Stories Edited By Ruchira Gupta.


When they said that women prostitute themselves, did they mean that these women have sex with themselves? Why do they negate the role of men? Perhaps the problem is that they do not want to address the issues of male power and privilege. So, as long as men hold on to power and entitlement, my friends are happy to let women settle for ‘Agency’ within deeply exploitative systems.


River of Flesh and Other Stories brings together twenty-one stories about trafficked and prostituted women by some of India’s most celebrated writers—Amrita Pritam, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Indira Goswami, Ismat Chughtai, J. P. Das, Kamala Das, Kamleshwar, Krishan Chander, Munshi Premchand, Nabendu Ghosh, Qurratulain Hyder, Saadat Hasan Manto and Siddique Alam, among others.

Jugnu, in Kamleshwar’s ‘River of Flesh’ (‘Maas ka Darya’)—stares at a lifetime of servitude as age and disease take hold; Ismat Chughtai creates the unforgettable character of Lajo in ‘The Housewife’, a carefree young woman who must conform to society’s idea of decency, or risk being branded a whore; in ‘Heeng-Kochuri’, by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, a boy growing up near a red-light area discovers the adult world of patrons, connoisseurs and customers—as well as savouries offered to young boys as bribe; and in Manisha Kulshrestha’s ‘Kalindi’, a son looks in through a window and his life falls to pieces around him.

An unprecedented anthology—for its subject, as well as for the range of authors and translators who are part of it—River of Flesh and Other Stories offers a harsh indictment of this practice of human slavery, too often justified—and occasionally glorified—as the ‘world’s oldest profession’.



An interesting collection of 21 short stories revolving around Prostitution as its main plot, fantastically written/translated by eminent writers. It’s definitely a collection copy.


When I got an opportunity to read this book, I grabbed it with both my hands and legs because

  1. It’s an Anthology and
  2. The Writers list.

Ideally speaking one should be compelled to buy this book after reading names like Saadat Hasan Manto, Premchand, Nabendu Ghosh, Ismat Chughtai (to name a few) attached with it. Book contains 21 stories written in 12 different languages which have been translated to English by yet another panel of distinguished translators.

All the stories revolve around prostitution, the inequalities the prostituted women experience. But not all stories leave you sad, some give you hope while some teach you life lessons. each story depicts sacrifices done by the prostituted and sometimes also by the people who love them, but more than anything else these stories show us how women have been used, not just physically but also emotionally, not just by men, but also by women.  One thing is common among all these shorts, they touch you in a way which is difficult to pen down. I don’t think I would be able choose any one in particular and call it my favourite or most liked one from the lot. Each story plays a perfect part to provide this euphoric experience while reading this book, something one should be thanking to the editor for-for compiling such an impressive Anthology.







2 thoughts on “Book Review – River Of Flesh And Other Stories Edited By Ruchira Gupta.

  1. Thank for the review! It sounds very interesting, if not very pleasant, for the topic. It is surprising how rarely topic of prostitution comes up, given how emotionally charged it is.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s