Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9782360571857
Collection: Monde indien
14 x 18 cm
Weight: 462 gr
Pages: 432
First publication: 03/10/2018
Last printing: 09/2018


Autobiographie d'un intouchable

Translation: Nicole Guignon, Florent Lelièvre

Preface : Mira Kamdar

The social awakening of an untouchable against omnipresent domination still relevant today.

Joothan is the autobiography of Omprakash Valmiki (1950-2013), an Indian writer born in one of those low castes whose members were formerly referred to as "untouchables" and have now taken the name "dalits" (from the Hindi dalit , " crushed "). Joothan had a huge impact in India and is a subject of study today. The author recounts his life from his difficult childhood until the illness that led to his death. Through a detailed description of everyday life, Joothan shows how Indian society, how discrimination based on the caste system managed to survive despite having been prohibited by the Indian Constitution, and how it economically and morally impacts a large part of the Indian society. Joothan also shows how the so-affected populations try to escape from the system and the tensions resulting from it, including within the family sphere. Yet, the autobiography of Omprakash Valmiki also reflects the serenity of a man of conviction who only wish for one thing, that all men be recognized with the same dignity, regardless of their origin.

Paper book


Indian literature: "Untouchable" and proud of it
"... While anecdotes of discrimination and violence abound, Valmiki's autobiography is by no means Manichean. For example, he recounts with wonder how in his native village, when he was the first student from the Dalit district to obtain his graduation diploma, a high caste man came to congratulate him ... "

(, 18/01/2019)
Online article

Omprakash Valmiki, Dalit writer
"... The autobiography is poignant and it is difficult to let go of the story ..."

(, 31/10/2018)
Online article

Joothan, autobiographie d'un intouchable
"... To read this author today is to support injustice, to counter the plight of thousands of Indians who suffer from this discrimination, but it is also not to give up or forget all those who in the world suffer such suffering ... "

(Dans la Bulle de Manou, 16/10/2018)
Download the article


Omprakash Valmiki

Omprakash Valmiki, was born in 1950 in the state of Uttar Pradesh in a family of the untouchable caste of sweepers-garbage collectors, and died prematurely in November 2013. He has asserted himself since the 1990s as one of the authors most important Hindi-speaking Dalits of his generation. Author engaged in social, political and economic fields for the emancipation of the oppressed, regularly published in various literary magazines as well as in academic journals, he has written poetry, short stories and essays. He also wrote a history of the valmiki community (name adopted by members of the garbage collection community in the years 1920-1930). He is the author of the autobiography Joothan, published in the Asian Library with this book.

Mira Kamdar

Through her father, a native of Gujarat, Mira Kamdar has India in her blood. World-renowned expert on India and author of several books on this country, including Motiba's Tattoos: A Granddaughter's Journey from America into her Indian Family's Past (Public Affairs, 2000; Plume, 2001) and Planet India, the turbulent ascension of a democratic giant (Actes Sud, 2008), she was a member of the editorial board of the New York Times responsible for writing on international affairs from fall 2013 to the end of 2017. Perfectly French-speaking, she is also the author of '' a thesis on Diderot, supervised by Philippe Lacue-Labarthe. Languages, turns of phrase and the sedimentation of meaning that words accumulate over time have always preoccupied him. American by birth, she has lived in France since 2010.

(photo © Tomas Van Houtryve)

Florent Lelièvre

Philippe Lelièvre is a French actor born January 21, 1964 in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. He is married and the father of three children. At the age of 21, he trained in drama in the free class of Cours Florent directed by Francis Huster, Raymond Acquaviva and François Florent. His first appearance on television was on November 20, 1990 during the hundredth program of Ciel, mon mardi !, a program hosted by Christophe Dechavanne on TF1. The show, completely under control, was specially made up of actors from the improvisation league and the theme was adultery. He plays there a witness named Jean-Pierre Vallon. Between 1999 and 2001, he was part of La Grosse Émission on the Comédie channel! in which he notably performed improvisations with Benjamin Rataud. He achieved success thanks to his one man show Givré !. Philippe Lelièvre was a theatrical improvisation teacher at Star Academy during seasons 5, 6 and 8 on TF1. He also hosted the NRJ radio morning show: Le 6/9 between 2001 and 2003 alongside Bruno Guillon, Arnaud Lemort, Jonathan Lambert, Manu Payet and Henri Delorme. In 2007, he presented a sequel to his one-man show entitled Always Frosted, on the stage of the Béliers theater. In December 2010, he represented this show at La Cigale in Paris. We also saw Philippe for a few years on television in the television commercials of the cereal brand Special K, where he played a jealous husband ending the spot with his sentence: "There's something new in his life!" ". In May 2008, he was one of the participants of the World Uno Tour presented by Arnaud Gidoin and Sören Prévost on the Comédie! Channel, a parody of poker where actors like Thierry Frémont, Arthur Jugnot, Vincent Desagnat, Pascal Légitimus, Sophia Aram s' face off in a Uno tournament. In 2011, he co-wrote, with Marjorie Ascione, the dialogues for the musical Dracula, the love stronger than the death of Kamel Ouali. Musical comedy in which he is in charge of the direction of actors. In 2011, with Sören Prévost, he wrote, directed and performed Dr CAC an economic popularization program in the tone of humor, broadcast on France 5.


Préface de Mira Kamdar
Introduction à l’édition de 1997 (Partie I)
Carte de l’Inde
Note liminaire sur les transcriptions, les notes et les renvois au glossaire
Première partie
1. Barla 1950-1966
Le village – Premières années d’école – Souffrances dues à la caste – Début des études secondaires – Échec en fin de classe 12
arbre généalogique familial
2. Dehradun 1966-1968
Poursuite des études secondaires – Découverte de l’engagement
politique, d’Ambedkar et du terme « dalit » – Interruption des études pour passer à une formation technique
3. Jabalpur 1968-1970
Formation de deux ans à l’usine de Khamarya – Découverte du monde littéraire
4. Bombay 1970-1972
Institut de formation d’Ambarnath – Institut de formation de Chandradhar
5. Chandrapur 1972-1985
En poste à l’usine de munitions de Chandrapur – Mariage (1973) – Difficultés de logement – Travail social parmi les dalits – Rencontres
6. Retour à Dehradun 1985
Transfert à l’usine d’armement de Dehradun – Réflexions sur le nom de Valmiki et la condition des dalits
Deuxième partie
1. Dehradun 1985-1998
Difficultés de relations au sein du service – Problèmes de logement – Drame chez les ouvriers – Théâtre – Appendicite de Sanjay – Poèmes publiés – Parution des onze pages préliminaires de l’autobiographie (1994)
2. Jabalpur 1998-2001
Transfert à l’usine de fabrication de véhicules militaires (G.C.F.) – Affectation au service de l’entretien – Rencontres – Transport du cadavre d’un boeuf – Difficultés au sein du service – Affectation au département d’assemblage des tanks – Composition obligée de chansons – Exploit technique – Demande de mutation à Dehradun
3. Dehradun 2001-2013
Affectation à l’O.L.F. (Opto-Electronics Factory) – Maladie de Chanda – Achat d’une maison et emménagement
4. Shimla et Delhi 2013
Des liens tissés en plein drame : Départ pour six mois de résidence à l’Indian Institute of Advanced Studies en tant que chercheur invité – Début de la maladie – Diagnostic – Opération chirurgicale à Delhi – Gratitude
Index des noms de personnalités citées