Circling the End of the Line in Vimala Devi's Monsoon: Glints of Significance Across Vimala Devi's Short Story Cycle

Paul Melo e Castro

Published Date: Feb 28, 2022


This article analyzes Vimala Devi’s Monsooni (the 2019 English translation of her Monção, originally published in Portuguese in 1963, with a second augmented edition in 2003) as a short story cycle, a genre that differs as much from the traditional novel as from non-integrated collections of short narratives in its “tension between variety and unity, separateness and interconnectedness, fragmentation and continuity, openness and closure” (Lundén 12). It is this generic affiliation, the author argues, that makes possible Devi’s particular portrait of late-colonial Goa. Drawing on various theorizations of the short story cycle genre, the article scrutinizes the interconnections and breaks present across and between the fourteen short stories that comprise Monsoon and conclude that it is the oscillation between centripetal and centrifugal forces that enables the work’s representation of a polity sutured together along its divisions. Monsoon, proposing a new figure for the short story cycle, works like a gem in which the stone of context is cut to form a set of planes at angles to one another, and where each individual face constitutes a side of Goa’s pre-1961 social formation. The beauty of Devi’s narratives is that each aspect yields new glints of significance regarded in different lights. In each character there is a new metaphor for certain conditions of life in bygone Goa; the overall effect of these depictions of truncation and discontent is cumulative and mutually illuminating.


Goan literature, Indian literature, late-colonial Goa, postcolonial literature in Portuguese, short story theory

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)