With the huge diversity of languages used in the Indian subcontinent, stories can often go under-read and under-acknowledged. This is where English translations offer us a portal into a land of wonderful tales. Kunzum stocks a wide range of translated works. Here are five picks from the Indian subcontinent. By Paridhi Badgotri
It has been argued for a long time now that rather than focussing on what’s lost in translation, one should appreciate the gains. Translators give a re-birth, a non-identical doppelgänger to the texts. The creative process of transferring stories from one language to another comes with great responsibility and demands unique skills, which should not be left unrecognised.
In a toast to the wonderful work done by translators working on stories from the Indian subcontinent, Kunzum recommends five books that transcend language barriers and borders.
Translated Books Reading List
Lifting the Veil by Ismat Chughtai, translated by M. Asaduddin
Ismat Chughtai courageously and unabashedly wrote on female sexuality at a time when even writing about women was rare and plagued by the male gaze. She transformed the arena of Urdu fiction by examining the political and social mores of her times. Lifting the Veil is a collection of her fiction and non-fiction writings that exhibit her wit, characteristic irreverence, and attention to detail.
The Music of Solitude by Krishna Sobti, translated by Vasudha Dalmia
This story, originally written in Hindi, celebrates the romance that thrives on companionship. Sobti captures the bitter truths of life with contrasting characters. Aranya is fiercely feminist and anarchic, while Ishan is gentle and orderly. The book comes alive through their banter on existentialism, food, and music. Ultimately, the novel focusses on sharing solitude and growing in the city of Delhi that is private and collective at once.
Saratchandra Volume One and The Final Question by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, translated by Department of English, Jadavpur University
Chattopadhyay’s canvas is painted with the daily lives of families living in early 20th-century Bengal. Written in the Bengali language, the eight novels in Saratchandra Volume One explore the nuances of human relationships. The Final Question explores the life of a female protagonist who is radical for her time, while questioning the norms established by Indian traditions, nationhood, and womanhood.
The Ichi Tree Monkey by Bama, translated by N. Ravi Shanker
Originally written in the Tamil language, Bama’s collection of stories explores a Tamil village from the eyes of the Cheri (Dalit colony), which brings a radical perspective to the forefront. These stories are a display of small, everyday acts of rebellion against the ones in power.
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag, translated by Srinath Perur
Shanbhag delves into a world where money controls our being. Originally crafted in Kannada, Ghachar Ghochar is the story of a family’s rise in class, as they move from an ant-infested house to a spacious bungalow. The narrator is numbed by the transition and flees to a cafe where he seeks solace. With conflicts constantly brewing in the background, Ghachar Ghochar is an eye-opening story about the shifting consequences of success.
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