One Foot on the Ground: A Life Told Through the Body
Author: Shanta Gokhale
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books
Publishing Date: 10 June 2019
Genre: Biographies & Autobiographies, Gender Studies, Society & Culture
Pages: 264 pages
Cost: 318.00 (Paperback), 313.95 (Kindle Edition)
‘One Foot on the Ground: A Life Told Through the Body’ is Shantha Gokhale’s autobiography in which she traces the arc of her life over eight decades through the progress of her body, as it grows, matures and begins to wind down. that talks about her life right from the moment she was born in 1939, till her life today that also includes her association with various parts of her body and the trouble the parts have created for her throughout her life. She outrightly talks about her middle-class sheltered childhood in Mumbai, education in England, two unsuccessful marriages, childbirth, raising her children as a single parent ,continuing with her jobs to feed her family and never losing touch with the intellectual pursuits of reading and writing during the entire journey. Parallel to all this, her body underwent tonsils surgery, sneezing sessions, weight loss and gains, breast cancer, glaucoma, cataracts, a hand fracture and finally bunions on her feet about which she has described beautifully and in unusual way.
'One Foot on the Ground' by Shanta Gokhale, the well-known writer, journalist, translator and theatre critic is one of the finest and most unusual autobiographies written in contemporary India so far.
Shanta Gokhale in her extraordinary autobiography recounts her childhood, youth and middle and old age in chapters built around the many elements and processes of the physical self like tonsils, adenoids, misaligned teeth, childbirth, fluctuating weight, cancer and bunions.
She takes the readers down the memory lane of her carefree childhood and growing up in a progressive Marathi household in Mumbai's Shivaji Park. She talks about the pleasures in adolescence, about badminton, Kathak and hairdressing, her friends and an almost love in cold England, two marriages and bringing up her children as a single parent to the thrill of her first translation from Marathi into English, nursing her mother, surviving cancer and a lot more with her effortless humour and candour.
The author narrates about her life in the novel format and most chapters are named after body parts, while within the chapter she uses a tale on the named body part to give one a detailed glimpse into her life at that particular stage. For example, in the chapter ‘Tonsils and Adenoids’, she shares a childhood tale of how she had her tonsils removed and, in the chapter, ‘Breasts, Buttocks and a Lips’ she talks about her adolescent changes and insecurities.
The writing is conversational, witty, incredibly engaging and enjoyable and the readers can start at any page and soon be lost reading. The best part about the book is that the author looks back on her life with the sense of humour and the zeal of one who can find something to smile about in the darkest times, positivity which will make the reader re-examine their own life through their body.
Bottom line is Gokhale’s tale of an ordinary life is extraordinarily told and indeed a must-read memoir!
Milestones of Book:
- 17th edition of Crossword Books Awards - Jury Non-fiction Award
About the Author:
Shanta Gokhale is an Indian writer, translator, cultural critic, columnist, journalist, playwright and theatre critic. She wrote two novels in Marathi, Rita Welinkar and Tya Varshi and both won the Maharashtra State Award for the best novel of the year and later they were translated by her into English language.
Apart from several plays, Gokhale has translated Smritichitre: The Memoirs of a Spirited Wife by Lakshmibai Tilak and the novel Kautik on Embers (Dhag) by Uddhav J. Shelke. She has written and edited several other books on theatre, including The Scenes We Made: An Oral History of Experimental Theatre in Mumbai.
Shanta Gokhale received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2016 for her contribution towards performing arts.