the story of being useless + three contexts of a writer

Winner of the Valley of Words Award 2020 for translation

News! How much newness does any news have? What news-value do the non-new things carry? There are things, incidents and people that do not make news. They do not possess enough newness for the news-hungry world. These things and beings are useless for the manufacturers of news. 

Among these manufacturers is a young sub-editor interning with a Marathi newspaper who looks at things that are mundane – no use for the news. Does he discover something in the mundane? Does he find anything more meaningful there than just making up news? This is The Story of Being Useless.

A writer writes or types. Where does his writing start and where does it end – and what is in between? What does he want to say and what does he want to hide? What lies beneath this façade of letters and words and sentences? What holds together the structure within? Why is this structure created in the first place? What about the writer who has written this novel or novella? Has he really created something novel or is it just a
re-rendering of the old? 

This is a story of a typist, well, a writer, who wrote ‘The Story of Being Useless’ and who is writing Three Contexts of a Writer.

Avadhoot Dongare expresses our reality, the politics of living in our times through the stories of ordinary lives. His narration is simple, but subtle. These excellent translations, by Nadeem Khan, are a need of the times, enabling the stories to reach out to the world.

The story revolves around a young sub-editor interning with a Marathi newspaper in Pune. And although it details the monotony of newsroom work, it also brings Pune to life with vivid details of its lingo and lifestyle. But, there’s also the crisis of what constitutes as news. With succinct sentences, it’s easy to see why the novella, originally titled Svatahala Faltu Samjanyachi Goshta, won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2014.

This compilation of novellas introduces readers of English to a fresh literary voice, but there is even more reason to celebrate this translation project born in Amravati – away from the hub and spokes of mainstream publishing industry.
Pune Mirror 

Avadhoot Dongare builds his narrative with parallel probe of life around him . . . It is a good sign for the creation of a healthy atmosphere for translation of Marathi literature.

These novellas represent a significant departure from the established tradition of Marathi novel in terms of both the form and content. They explore the very process of writing, and raise questions about what gives the writing a formal and semantic coherence.

The language is good English, of course—fluent, racy at times and transparent too, but at the same time, it is close to Marathi as it evokes the cadences of its tones and undertones in interesting ways . . . The translation holds its place not just because it gives an afterlife to the original text, but also because of its linguistic structure and organization. And kudos for this effort, Mr Nadeem Khan.
Maya Pandit-NarkarThe Book Review


Photo by Ashwini Kamble.

AVADHOOT DONGARE started writing fiction in 2007. He has published four novels in Marathi: Svatahala Faltu Samjanyachi Goshta (The Story of Being Useless, 2012), Eka Lekhakache Teen Sandarbha (Three Contexts of a Writer, 2013), Paan, Pani Ni Pravah (Leaf, Water and Flow, 2015), and Bhintivarcha Chashma (Specs on the Wall, 2018). The first novel was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2014. He has also published a critical essay Svatahacha Avakash Tapasatana (Probing One’s Space, 2017) about one of the translations he had done as a professional and a book of short stories for children. He blogs at


NADEEM KHAN has been a teacher of English since 1973. For more than seven years he worked as Director, Western Regional Centre, Amravati, of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, an autonomous institute of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. He has translated into English the writings of well-known Marathi novelists Bhau Padhye and Vishwas Patil, Hindi short-story writer Doodnath Singh, as well as artists Ram Kumar and Jangadh Singh. He has also translated Sathya Saran’s My Daughter – My Shakti from English to Hindi. He is a voracious reader and his lectures on a variety of subjects have been very popular in academic and corporate circles for over twenty years. 

Create your website with
Get started