The birth and development of the short story in Odia is a twentieth century phenomenon. Though Odisha has a rich tradition of folktales and prose works, the credit for making the short story an important literary forms goes to Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918).Senapati is universally regarded as the father of the Odia novel and the short story, In l898, Senapati published Rebati, which can safely be taken as the first short story in Odia. Written in colloquial idiomatic Odia, it deals with the love between Rebati and a schoolteacher, which is expressed in a suggestive and subtle manner, It reminds one of Tagores The Post Master,
Two significant traits can be recognized in the short stories produced in the first three decades of the twentieth century: a zeal for social reform, and patriotism. Themes such as female education, child marriage, dowry, the caste system, the relation between the landlord and the land less, etc, were widely favoured, Writers who dominated the short story scene before Independence explored similar themes. The Freedom Movement and Marxism, however, inspired some to produce powerful short stories, Bhagabati Charan Panigrahis Shikar (The Hunt) is one such story. Ghinua, a poor peasant who has been exploited by the landlord, one day chops off his landlords head and reports to the police hoping to be rewarded for his noble deed.Story writers who came to prominence after Independence include Gopinath Mohanty (1914-93), Surendra Mohanty (1920-92),Nityananda Mohapatra (b.1912), Rajkishore Roy (b.1914) and Raj Kishore Patnaik (b.1916-97). Gopinath Mohanty, besides his novels for which he won the Jnanpith award, published several collections of short stories. In a style that is intensely poetic, Mohanty probes deep into human mind and presents the inner being of man in vivid details. Disintegration in the life-style of tribals as a result of their exposure to modern civilisation forms the theme of many of his short stories, Surendra Mohanty, whose ornate literary style is in a sharp contract to Gopinath Mohantys colloquial prose, explores a wide range of themes. Some of his popular stories are set against the backdrop of Buddhist India. Perhaps he is at his best when he portrays the modern youth of the metropolis, unemployed, lonely, without any definite aim in life, Nityananda Mohapatra, like Gopinath Mohanty, has presented his characters mostly as psychological beings. Rajkishore Roy, in a style that is a mixture of the literary and the colloquial, has portrayed the decline of values in modern times in a satirical vein. Ananta Prasad Panda has written with a socialist bias, often sacrificing art to propaganda.Sachidananda Routray (b 1915), who has won the Jnanpith award for poetry, has also published three collections of short stories.His stories, like Bhagabati Charan Panigrahis, are a moving account of the life of the poor and the underdog in society.
In the last twenty years or so a group of powerful storywriters has emerged and the Odia short story has attained a commendable status as a literary form. This group includes :
Mohapatra Neelamani Sahoo (b.1926), Basant Kumar Satpathy (1913-94), Kishori Charan Das (b 1924), Krushna Prasad Mishra (1933-94), Shantanu Kumar Acharya (b.1933), Manoj Das (b.1934), Akhil Mohan Patnaik (1931-87) and Achyutananda Pati.Though Mohapatra Neelamani Sahoo has not significantly broken away from the Fakirmohan tradition, his intimate observation of life and genuine sense of humor have made him the most popular Of contemporary authors. Kishori Charan Das mostly writes about the upper middle class Indian life. A dominant theme in Krushna Prasad Mishra is the encounter between the East and the West, Shantanu Acharya is a bold experimenter in the techniques of the short story. He writes about the political, social and moral problems of the individual in contemporary society.Manoj Dass stories easily remind one of Edgar Allan Poe and OHenry, tie is a story-teller par excellence who often blends realism and fantasy in the most artistic way.
At present, not less than fifty writers, both from the older and the younger generations, are engaged in story writing. Special mention may be made of Chandra Sekhar Rath, Satkadi Hota, Bibhuti Patnaik, Uma Shankar Mishra, Jagannath Prasad Das, Rabi Patnaik, Binapani Mohanty, Ramachandra Behera, Pratibha Ray, Yashodhara Mishra, Haraprasad Das, Jagadish Mohanty, Sarojini Sahu, Dash Benhur, Padmaj Pal, Hruahikesh Panda, Paresh Patnaik, Tarunkanti Mishra, Gaurahari Das and Susmita Bagchi. Most of them are well versed in western literature, live in cities or towns, writes about the problems of the individual in society, with a strong psychological bias.Though Odisha is predominantly a land of villages, little is written about the village presumably because of the writers lack of contact with village life. Most of the writers publish their stories in periodicals and in the last five years the number of story collections published per year averages twenty-five.