The Fortnight (and a bit) in Literature and Translation (Feb 27-March 14, 2015)

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Ali Akbar Natiq’s What Will You Give For this Beauty (translated by Ali Madeeh Hashmi for Hamish Hamilton)
  • Shashi Tharoor’s The Five Dollar Smile from Penguin
  • Stuart Blackburn’s Murder in Melur from Rupa
  • From among her many literary engagements Rathi Menon’s latest is a book on Prof. M. Leelavathy
  • The literary works of Nepal’s national poet, Madhav Prasad Ghimire, will be translated into Hindi
  • Pakistan’s National Book Foundation (NBF) published a new  pocket size edition of the Deewan-e-Ghalib
  •  R. Meera’s popular novel Hangwoman will be translated into Arabic
  • Kannada writer Vasudhendra on ‘Mohanaswamy,’ his collection of short stories about gay lives
  • Ten years later, Gregory D Robert’s ‘Shantaram’ is back in a new novel.
  • Translator Poonam Saxena on Dharamvir Bharati’s ‘Gunahon Ka Devta’ and why it is a necessary tale of slow love for the instant generation.
  • The Sahitya Akademi has published a new monograph on Telugu writer Madhurantakam Rajaram

 

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • How well do you know your fictional Bengali detectives?
  • Tania James tells you why you must read this novel about the ivory trade: it’s told in part by an elephant
  • Mayank Austen Soofi on how Indian poetry in English is becoming part of the mainstream
  • Gargi Gupta on translation efforts and the neglect of India’s classics
  • Amitav Ghosh on his Ibis trilogy: “As a novelist, I am trying to create a sense of lived history”
  • Javed Akhtar on Urdu: “Language comes from regions, not religions”
  • Azaan Javaid on Jashn-E-Rekhta and the need to resurrect lost languages
  • Adapting Shakespeare in Bengali, at Jorasankar Thakurbari
  • Singapore’s Bangladeshi construction worker poets
  • Aatish Taseer writes in English for NYT on how English killed Indian literature
  • Intizar Hussain: a Pakistani author who left his heart in India
  • A couple of months back I’d done a detailed overview (parts one and two) of the Sahitya Akademi award-winners. Scroll has a shorter version here.
  • Watch a documentary that captures Mumbai’s love affair with books.
  • Dalit literature has grown popular over time: Sheoraj Singh Bechain
  • Charukesi on the poetry of Tamil writer Erode Tamizhanban
  • Veerappa Moily’s reinterpretation of Draupadi’s story.

Reviews 

  • Amrita Madhukalya reviews Mamang Dai’s new book The Black Hill, set in 19th century Arunachal Pradesh,
  • Chetana Divya Vasudev reviews Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Golden Leaves in TNIE
  • More on Ram Devineni’s “Priya” comic about a rape survivor in India using divine intervention to school people
  • Melanie P Kumar reviews Amit Chaudhuri’s Odysseus Abroad, in the Deccan Herald

 

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • Malayalam writer KR Meera received the Oman Kerala Sahitya Puraskaram in Muscat for her fantastic novel Hangwoman. Here’s an interview  with Ajay Kumar.
  • The Sahitya Akademi Translation Prizes 2014 have been announced.
  • Temsula Ao will receive the Kusumagraja National Literature Award
  • Literary awards presented to Assamese poet Bhaben and Bengali poet Shyamalkanti Das
  • Kuvempu Rashtreeya Puraskar to be conferred on Hindi writer Namvar Singh

People

  • Assaulted and hounded, Tamil writer Puliyar Murugesan to move out of his home to Thanjavur
  • Gulzar wishes Patar could translate his works to Punjabi
  • Popular rationalist and Gujarati writer Raman Pathak passes away
  • Ada Jafarey, first lady of Urdu poetry, dies
  • Odia writer Gayatribala Panda participating in ‘Writers in-residence’ programme at the Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • Remembering Kannada writer P Lankesh, who died before his time
  • Controversy-man, who is all for ‘deshivad’: Harihar Swarup writes about Bhalchandra Nemade, Jnanpith awardee

Publishing, the industry, and libraries

  • Publishers and book stores are doing their bit to preserve Urdu
  • India seems to be warming up to the literary agent
  • The former Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, has filed a one billion rupee defamation suit against Penguin India for being mean to his friends.
  • Slam poetry has a niche audience in Bengaluru
  • Why Anuja Chauhan moved from HarperCollins after eight years and three bestsellers (spoiler: for the money)
  • A report from the recent All India Library Conference in Delhi: lessons for Nepal
  • The CenGov gave 25 districts funds to hold bookfairs: 13 failed to do so
  • Graphic India Believes It’s Time India Had Its Own Digital Comic Empire
  • NIE report on the Indian government’s giant banhammer (my, what a big hammer you have, my dear)
  • The Kerala State Library Council (KSLC) is going in for a much-needed digitisation drive,

 

 

The Fortnight in Literature and Translation (Feb 12-26 2015)

This is now going to become a fortnightly column, instead of weekly.

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Two novellas by Urdu writer Ikramullah’s are out in an English translation by Faruq Hassan and Mohammad Umar Memon. The book, titled Regret, has been published by Penguin Random House India.
  • A selection of Urdu writer Ali Akbar Natiq’s short stories are out in an English translation titled, What Will You Give for This Beauty?The translation, by Musharraf Ali Farooqui, is published by Penguin Random House India.
  • The ninth and penultimate volume of Bibek Debroy’s magisterial translation of the Mahabharata is out.
  • Six volumes of literature from the Adil Shahi era are being published in Kannada translation, by Department of Kannada and Culture in Karnataka.
  • Nepali Madan Puraskar laureate Dinesh Adhikari’s book of poetry has been translated to Hindi
  • A three-volume Birinchi Kumar Barua Rachanawali was released in Guwahati
  • Wonderful news: the Dhaka Translation Centre plans the creation of a collection of translations titled the ‘Library of Bangladesh’
  • New publisher Speaking Tiger has its first three books out (all in English): Omair Ahmed’s novel, The Storyteller’s Tale, Mahesh Bhatt and Suhrita Sengupta’s novel/screenplay, All That Could Have Been, and a collection of essays by Ruskin Bond, A Book of Simple Living.
  • Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan’s verses have been translated to Greek
  • Debut author Shweta Taneja talks about her upcoming book about ‘tantric detective’ Anantya. Conceptually, this sounds terrible. Hope it’s been executed well.
  • Television journalist Pooja Talwar talked about her upcoming novel “Bebbe Diaries” at the recent World Book Fair in New Delhi

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Tisha Srivastav comments on the lack of variety in Indian publishing in a column for Scroll, titled, “A new dictionary of book classification in bookstores”
  • Mamta Sagar on the troubled genius of iconic Kannada writer Samsa
  • Asit Ranjan Mishra asks, How should we celebrate Indian classical languages? He concludes, “Forcing students to learn Sanskrit is not important for our future generation to appreciate the great heritage of this country, making it easily available in the language he or she wants to read it is.”
  • Anita Nair on three good Malayalam to English translations of Indian fiction last year.
  • Dr IM Singh on the folk stories of the Meiteis of Manipur.
  • Meera Sashital’s article on the Sanskrit poet, Banabhatta
  • Writer Nikhileshwar on Perumal Murugan, intolerance and politics.
  • Regional writers back Marathi writer Nemade on his tirade against Naipaul, Rushdie

Reviews

  • Sarah Hafeez reviews Mamang Dai’s The Black Hill in the Indian Express.
  • A new review of Uday Prakash’s The Walls of Delhi, as translated by Grunebaum, in the QC
  • Catherine Lacey reviews Deepti Kapoor’s A Bad Character in the NYT
  • Bollywood loves lyricist Irshad Kamil’s recently published book of Urdu poetry.

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • The Vinda Karandikar Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar will be conferred on well-known Marathi writer D M Mirasdar.

People

  • Kashmiri poet Gani Miskeen of Sopore passed away. He was 60.
  • A profile of Madurai’s A.R. Subbier, who wrote Tamil bakthi literature, by S Annamalai in The Hindu.
  • Via TOI a short interview with Goan writer Damodar Mauzo
  • Renowned Urdu poet Kaleem Aajiz passed away
  • Telugu Novelist Kesava Reddy passed away

Publishing

  • Another Tamil writer under attack for novel. Meanwhile, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, who has stopped writing completely since his novel was censored and burned, has filed an affidavit in court in a proceeding challenging the ban on his book. “A writer cannot function under threat or fear,” he said.
  • Kalyani Prasher asks, Is Hindi literature back in fashion? Another article speaks about the adoption of new technology in Hindi publishing.
  • A number of new generation libraries in Mumbai are offering more than just reading room to members
  • Binoo K John asks, How big is Indian publishing, really? and notes that a survey with the answers is forthcoming
  • Here’s an interview with Ashok Chopra on his career as a publisher:
  • TNN on the evolution of online publishing in India.
  • A news report on the future of government publishing in India.
  • The current BJP national government plans a probe into the activities of the IGNCA

Events

THE WEEK IN LITERATURE AND TRANSLATION [Feb 6-Feb 11, 2015]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Bollywood lyricist Irshad Kamil’s book of poetry “Ek Maheena Nazmon Ka” was released last week
  • OUP India has published an English translation of Kannada novel Kusumable, by Devanuru Mahadave. Here’s an interview with the translator Susan Daniel.
  • Fascinating: visually interpreting Malayalam at the Kochi Biennale
  • Publisher Ashok Chopra has released his memoirs, “A Scrapbook of Memories”.
  • Nepali poet Avinash Bagde released his fourth volume of poems.
  • Nikhil Govind has released a monograph studying romance and politics in Hindi novels.
  • Renuka Nidagundi’s new book ‘Amrutha Nenapugalu’ is about memories and the life of Amrita Pritam.

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Aakar Patel in Quartz is glad that an Indian philanthropist is donating money for books instead of temples (referring to the excellent Murty Classical Library).
  • Salil Tripathi: The right to be offended (he quotes a Mahesh Padgaonkar poem)
  • A lovely, extended essay on poet Ranjit Hoskote, by Sumana Roy for Scroll: on his  “polyglossia, both linguistic and cultural”
  • Listicle update:  India’s top 5 “erotica” writers (eye bleach required after), top 5 travel books for India, from Scroll,
  • Dola Mitra writes about Amitav Ghosh and his next book, Flood of Fire.

Reviews

  • Sumana Mukherjee reviews Mamang Dai’s The Black Hill
  • Taha Kehar reviews Aakar Patel’s edited book of Manto’s essays
  • Neel Mukherjee reviews Amit Chaudhuri’s Odysseus Abroad
  • Kuldeep Kumar reviews Nikhil Govind’s monograph on Hindi romance novels.
  • Joanna Lobo on Kuzhali Manickavel’s post-autopsy world.

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • Marathi writer Balachandra Nemade won the Jnanpith Award. He immediately got into a spat with Salman Rushdie (he dismissed English writing about India, Rushdie called him a “grumpy old b******). Here’s the IE on his writing and style (“unforgiving and brutally honest”). The Maharashtra government is considering getting involved, as well, and take action against Rushdie. Other Marathi writers have refused to back him. Ironically it turns out that Bhalchandra Nemade teaches…..English literature. He must hate his job! Anyhow, the year’s literary calendar is incomplete without our obligatory annual Rushdie literary spat.
  • Akhil Sharma’s ‘Family Life’ is on the 2015 Folio Prize Shortlist.
  • Poet Nurul Huda is among 15 people named for Bangladesh’s Ekushey Padak 2015
  • The 2014 Kaifi Azmi Awards were announced: Usha Ganguli (culture), Kulsum Talha, (journalism), Shakeel Siddiqui (Hindi literature), Prof Ali Ahmad Fatmi (Urdu literature)
  • Odia writer Gayatribala Panda has been selected for the ‘Writers in-residence’ programme at the Rashtrapati Bhavan

People

  • I love when Bollywood gets going on their literary credentials. Capt. Obvious Ranbir Kapoor says “Poetry is something that you have to understand. It is not easy.” Also,  Huma Quereshi collects Urdu poetry books. But she equates poetry with shayri.
  • Tripura’s poet-minister, Anil Sarkar, passed away. He was 76 years old.

Publishing/Industry News

  • Singapore’s government is donating books on Singapore to libraries across the world, beginning with India.
  • Bombay gets a new bookstore.
  • Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder’s Bengali fantasy classic, Kiranmala, is being adapted for television
  • The Konkani Association of Hyderabad celebrated fifty years of its existence on Sunday
  • Andhra University is planning to set up a full-fledged foreign languages e-archive on the campus (to make up for the loss of EFLU)

Events

  • The TNIE is outraged at a Bengali troup’s “disgraceful” reinterpretation of a Pranabandhu Kar play.
  • A 3 day All India Theatre Fest was held in Belagavi last week.
  • The Bhubaneswar book fair begins
  • The New Delhi World Book Fair begins on Feb 14.
  • India at the 6th Karachi Lit Fest: ““We cannot trade printed material between Pakistan and India”

The Gathasaptasati: Prakrit love poems by women from 2 BCE, India (translated by AK Mehrotra)

I’m glad that the Murty Classical Library has revived some interest in classical Indian literature, and even more glad that they choose to focus on languages other than Sanskrit. Historically, Sanskrit has been the language of the elite, while Prakrit and Pali were common in daily use.

One selection of classic poetry in Prakrit that has not been neglected is the Gathasaptasati, or the Gaha Sattasai. This collection of 987 short poems were part of a great oral tradition, carried on primarily by women, in the erstwhile Satavahana kingdoms, around 2 B.C.E. The Gathasaptasati is primarily composed of love poetry, explicit and frankly erotic. The version that I read is AK Mehrotra’s English translation, titled, ‘The Absent Traveller’ (WorldCat, Amazon)  The title derives from this beautiful little verse:

Preoccupied with thoughts
Of his desolate wife
The absent traveller
Now approaches the village
Now leaves it behind

The Gathasaptasati is by turns, charming and playful, and intense and erotic. There is love and grief and despair, often conveyed only through images. I tweeted out a small selection of quotes from Mehrotra’s translation, and they are storified here, if you’d like to take a look. I recommend Mehrotra’s translation, as well.

The Week in Literature and Translation [Jan 30-Feb 5, 2015]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Navayana’s edition of Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste is now available in Malayalam, via DC books.
  • Granta’s last issue (130) was India-themed.
  • Amitav Ghosh will launch the third book in his Ibis trilogy, ‘Flood of Fire’, in Imphal on Feb 6
  • Indulekha is offering autographed copies of C Radhakrishnan’s books.
  • There’s a new Anis Shivani novel coming out, via HarperCollins, titled ‘Karachi Raj
  • Anjuman-E-Islam has restored, preserved a Persian translation of Ramayana, and Urdu translation of Bhagavad Gita. I’m particularly interested in the latter: apparently, the Gita has been preserved as a ghazal!
  • Subraya Bhat,has written a biography of Ahobala Shankara, the translator who rendered Bengali works into Kannada
  • Twitter celebrity and novelist Nilanjana Roy has published a short story, ‘Softspeakers’ online.
  • A children’s book ‘Uncommon Wealth’ by Konkani, Marathi writer Datta D Naik was released
  • Sunita Bhadwal has translated Kripa Sagar’s Dido Jamwal (1934), about a Dogra folk hero
  • An excerpt from Amita Kanekar’s A Spoke in the Wheel, on the life of the Buddha.
  • An excerpt from Anita Anand’s ‘Sophia’, about feminist and revolutionary Sophia Singh
  • Rushdie’s first novel in 7 years will be released this September
  • R K Biswas on her new collection of stories, Breasts and Other Afflictions of Women.
  • Matte Bantu Shravana is a new compilation of poems by young Kannada writers over the last three decades
  • An excerpt from Ruskin Bond’s Ranji’s Wonderful Bat & Other Stories
  • New content at the North East Review: Usha Akella’s poems.
  • Deepanjana Pal has a more detailed list of upcoming non-fiction books from Penguin, HarperCollins.

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

  • Iris Yellum, Ph.D. student at Harvard, offers us this narrative about Ajay Navaria’s narrative
  • Amisha Chaubey in HT on Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, her novels and her screenplays for Merchant-Ivory
  • Chetan Bhagat threatens to inflict “10 to 15” more books on unsuspecting janta, is Zadie Smith’s fourteen year old fanboy (“She writes really well and is very pretty.”) I love the title of the column – it appears as though it were a quote from him but he doesn’t actually say it anywhere. I like to believe it was editorial input and not an oversight.
  • A review of ‘Raconteurs from the Hills’, a collection of stories by six Naga authors, from Penthrill Publications
  • Ian Gregson says poetry is receding from conversation. English poetry, sure.
  • Deepti Kapoor’s A Bad Character at Kirkus Reviews.
  • Vaishna Roy reviews Amit Chaudhuri’s Odysseus Abroad
  • Tishani Doshi reviews ‘s novel Seahorse, in TNIE
  • JB Rose asks, do Indian literary prizes set literary standards?
  • Five thoughts on writing, and a post-script, from Amitav Ghosh
  • William Dalrymple in the Guardian on BN Goswamy’s The Spirit of Indian Painting
  • Samit Basu on Indian ‘science’ badfiction, in Times of India
  • Frontline has reposted this lovely 1992 article by RK Laxman on his equally famous brother, the writer RK Narayan
  • India’s modern revivalists: Rohan Murty and Sheldon Pollock, the duo behind the Murty Classical Library of India
  • The Sultan of Beypore: V Abdulla profiles Malayalam writer Vaikom Muhammed Basheer
  • A profile of D. Jayakanthan, the second Tamil writer to win the Jnanpith Award
  • Bijoya Sawan on writing and translating Khasi literature.
  • Zafar Anjum reviews Chandrika Balan’s Arya and Other Stories.
  • Raza Naeem in The Express Tribune on Kashmir and Krishan Chander’s fiction.

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

AWARDS

  • Konkani novelist Edwin J D’Souza wins a lifetime achievement award from Federation of Konkani Catholic Associations
  • Hindi writer Mithileshwar wins the 4th Srilal Shukla Sahitya award

PEOPLE

  • Mirza Waheed was on BBC Radio 4 talking about his book, The Book of Gold Leaves.
  • Journalist-author, freedom fighter Vasant Pradhan passed away
  • Madhya Pradesh’s first Urdu woman journalist Khalida Bilgrami passed away at 71
  • Perumal Muruga has objected to a plan to use his novel’s title (One Part Woman) for a forthcoming film: “It distresses me to see that there are many who want to turn my situation to their advantage,”
  • Women writers, academics in Karnataka slammed the Kannada writer SL Bhyrappa for misogyny. Writer and critic Dr. Ashadevi said, “But Prof. Bhyrappa has never treated women, who form 50 per cent of the population, as human beings.”
  • Via the Asian Books Blog, an interview with Malaysian writer Professor Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof
  • Prof. S. Ramaswamy talks about translating Kannada novelist S.L. Bhyrappa’s works into English

PUBLISHING

  • A new publisher from Goa, Under the Peepal Tree, will focus on Indian literature and translations.
  • The 81st Kannada Sahitya Sammelana saw brisk sales in Kannada books. The meet ended with a resolution to push for Kannada as the medium of instruction in schools of Karnataka.
  • Madras HC dismissed the suit challenging the ‘agreement’ between the Namakkal administration and Perumal Murugan
  • The story behind the harassment of Shireen Dalvi, editor of an Urdu daily who published some Charlie Hebdo cartoons and a very moving personal statement by her.
  • The Uttar Pradesh government says it will renovate, restore the scholar Dara Shikoh’s library in Agra
  • At long last, Kumaon University will introduce courses on language, literature in Kumaoni, Garhwali
  • Bollywood star Twinkle Khanna, who has been writing her “Mrs Funnybones” columns about her life, has reportedly signed a 3 book deal with Penguin Random House India.
  • Devapriya Roy explains why book editors should not date.
  • Private and public libraries in India find it difficult to preserve and insure manuscripts.
  • James Crabtree on India’s publishing boom: the rise of local mass-market authors
  • India at the Cuba Book Fair
  • New Malayalam fiction finds more readers.

EVENTS

  • In Kolkata, before a book fair, artists rally behind Charlie Hebdo.
  • At an event honouring Telugu poet Geddapu Satyam, there was some interesting discussion on the literature of Kalingandhra/North Andhra.
  • Mini Krishnan sees lit fests as an opportunity to meet all kinds of people who love literature, in their own ways
  • Meanwhile, Arshia Sattar wants lit fests to be called “book fests” because if C Bhagat attends it’s not literature, or something. See, I think C-Bags writes bad books, but there’s no denying its literature (yes, bad literature, but literature). Such elitist, pointless snobbery.
  • Marathi publishers will boycott the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan because it’s being held in…Punjab
  • Apparently, there was some ruckus at the Gateway Lit Fest mushaira.
  • March 11 | Dichpally, AP | Seminar: Subaltern Concepts in Indian Writing in English
  • The 22nd All-India Konkani Sahitya Sammelana will be held for three days in Kozhikode in Kerala from February 13.

The Week In Literature and Translation [Jan 23-29, 2015]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • DD Kosambi’s seminal An Introduction to the Study of Indian History has been translated to Telugu.
  • Prajwal Parajuly’s ‘The Gurkha’s Daughter’ has been translated into Nepali
  • Poet Javed Akhtar has translated 8 Tagore songs to Hindi; to be sung by Sangeeta Dutt
  • After some drama, Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore has been translated to Bengali.
  • A new website on Kannada poet Kanakdasa contains vast amounts of material in English and Kannada
  • Watch Navayana’s Annual Lecture, delivered by Aboriginal writer Ali Cobby Eckermann
  • Two works by historian and author S Settar have been translated to Kannada – Inviting Death and Pursuing Death
  • The Konkani Bhasha Mandal has released a pettul (treasure trove) of children’s writing in Konkani.
  • Speaking Tiger Books has their lineup and website running!

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Arunima Mazumdar in Livemint says festivals are giving children’s storytelling a boost.
  • Here’s an excellent reference list of contemporary Hindi poets to follow, prepared by Ranjeet Pratap Singh (of Pratilipi, where you can read most of these poets).
  • Pratilipi, an online archive of Indian writing in several languages, has posted an interesting user analysis for 2014  (“Less than 25% of our visitors are female but just like our older readers, they visit more often (35%), and read significantly more (37%)”)
  • Irfan Mehraj writes in the Kashmir Dispatch on radical Kashmiri poet Kashmiri poet Abdul Ahad Azad (What is life but the book of change?/ Change – more change – and yet more change!)
  • TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan rants here about the vulgarity of literature awards and festivals and recommends supporting libraries instead
  • Min Pun has a fascinating column on the debate surrounding the inclusion of English writers in the Nepali canon.
  • Jash Sen on the evolution of Bengali detective Byomkesh Bakshi, from Bandopadhyay’s novels to Bollywood
  • Here’s Anuradha Sengupta’s literary guide to Kolkata.
  • Vikas Datta on politically incorrect satire in Urdu poetry

Reviews

  • Reviews of Anita Anand’s new biography of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh are floating in – here’s Navtej Sarna for India Today, William O’Connor for The Daily Beast,
  • Gargi Gupta reviews Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Gold Leaves for DNA.
  • Are techie writers graduating from sordid romances? Here’s a review of Jaimeet Patel’s An Exceptional Case.
  • T.D. Ramakrishnan’s new Malayalam novel is inspired by rights activist and feminist Dr. Rajani Thiranagama

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • Arundhati Subramaniam won the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry – here are nine poems from her book, When God is  a Traveller.
  • British writer Ahmad Lunat wins the Gujarat Darpan Award for Ajaanya – “Strangers” (short stories)
  • Disappointed that Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland won the DSC Prize. Ok, you disagree. This is my opinion.
  • Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri won the the Ezhuthachan Prize 2014 f

People

  • Beloved Indian artist, RK Laxman, who drew fantastic political cartoons, passed away.
  • Veteran Marathi writer MD Hatkananglekar passed away at 89
  • Former Union Minister, teacher and translator Sarojini Mahishi passes away at 88
  • Kannada writer writer S. M. Vrushabhendra Swamy passes away at 88.
  •  Dr Jose Pereira, Sanskrit scholar, historian, musicologist, writer, linguist and artist, passes away at 84.
  • Bengaluru celebrated the centenary of Kannada poet KS Narasimhaswamy, famous for his 1942 collection of poems, Mysore Mallige.
  • Ruskin Bond says, I’m a writer because I am a reader.

Publishing / Industry news

  • Navayana is offering a special discount on their beautiful graphic novel based on Ambedkar’s life, written by publisher S Anand and Srividya Natarajan and illustrated beautifully by Gond artists Durgabai and Subhash Vyam.
  • HarperCollins publisher Karthika VK talked to HT about censorship and publishing in India. Nothing new here.
  • Support is pouring in from the writing community for Perumal Murugan – from Salem in Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore , and Ongole in AP.  Author Anita Nair made a statement, too.  Arun Janardhan, who went to Namakkal (where Murugan lives) has a story from the local people. Harish Nambiar blames the author for not standing up to critics. Overall I would recommend this essay by V Geetha on the entire controversy.
  • Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW), University of Delhi, has set up a new translation centre
  • An attempt to edit Kuvempu’s poem ‘Nada Geethe’ meets with protesting schoolkids.

Events

* edited to correct the description of Pratilipi (it’s not just for Hindi writing) and to add the TimesLitFest Bengaluru in events.

The Week in Literature and Translation [Jan 16-22, 2015]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • The North East Review has posted a bunch of new content for their Oct-Dec 2014 issue: G Brahmachari’s poem ‘Northern Summer‘, Rini Barman’s essay ‘Akash Banti‘ and Rumpa Das’ story, ‘Durga, Apu and the Train
  • Lizzie Jacob, who is the former Chief Secretary of Kerala, is also a translator, and will be publishing a Malayalam translation of Tagore’s (Bengali) poems.
  • Lots of news coverage for the Murty Classical Library, which was launched this past week in Delhi – Economic Times, The Hindu, Times HE (UK), Deccan Herald, Times of India, The New Indian Express,
  • Javier Moro’s unauthorised biography of Congress politician Sonia Gandhi was released amidst claims that the Congress tried to suppress the book (Reuters, NYT, Livemint). The book appears to be on Archive.org as well.
  • Munsif M Rajendran’s fictionalised history of six generations of women in his family has been released.
  • N Kalyan Raman has posted translations in English of two poems by Tamil writer Salma
  • Anita Agnihotri’s short story collection ’17’ is new to Kindle this week, available here
  • A list of 13 Indian authors whose works entered the public domain in 2015.

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Ruth Vanita on the history of queer literature in India, and particularly, pre-colonial Lucknow
  • Nilanjana Roy’s lists: Books she enjoyed in 2014, and books to look forward to in 2015.
  • Sudeep Sen’s list of poetry books to look out for in 2015
  • Shamik Bag on the evolution of the Bengali detective and Calcutta noir.
  • The history of Higgin Bothams, one of Bengaluru’s oldest bookstores
  • ‘Angaarey’ challenged dominant Muslim narratives, transformed literature, says Raza Naeem in Lahore
  • JN Sinha has a lovely essay in Frontline on the endurance of Saratchandra Chatterjee’s novel, Devdas

Reviews

  • Sravasti Roy on Janice Pariat’s novel, Seahorse in The Hindu (Two descriptive paragraphs and an author’s quote are apparently what pass for a review these days)
  • Urmi Chanda Vaz reviews Rabisankar Bal’s A Mirrored Life, translatd from Bengali to English by ArunavaSinha
  • Pratik Kanjilal reviews David Davidar’s edited collection of short stories from India
  • Milind Bokil’s Marathi novel, Shala, translated by Vikrant Pande to English is reviewed by Prema Nandakumar
  • Two recent reviews of AK Mehrotra’s Collected Poems (2014) – in Daily Star by Manu Dash, and in Mid-Day by Lindsay Pereira.
  • Rini Barman reviews Maitreyee B Chowdhury’s collection of poetry on Benares for Himal Southasian
  • Tunku Varadarajan’s review essay is a good introduction to the new Murty Classical Library for OPEN
  • Arshia Sattar reviews Anita Anand’s biography of feminist icon Princess Sophia Duleep Singh for OPEN
  • Rajni George reviews Raj Kamal Jha’s novel, She Will Build Him A City for OPEN
  • Shreya Sethuraman has a list of six Indian crime fiction writers to read.  Unfortunately, one’s English, one’s Swedish and one writes non-fiction. Nevertheless.

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • Lisa Hill’s shadow jury for the DSC Prize picked The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, we’re still waiting for the actual jury to announce its choice.
  • Toto Funds the Arts, a trust set up in memoriam of Angirus ‘Toto’ Vellani (who died far too young), announced its annual English and Kannada awards for literature, theatre and music.
  • Mukti Deb Choudhury wins this year’s Leelarai Smriti Puraskar for her translations from Assamese to Bengali and back

People

  • For GQ, Nidhi Gupta in conversation with Amit Chaudhuri
  • Aatish Taseer talks to Chandrima Das of the Ahmedabad Mirror, about his book, The Way Things Were
  • Indian cartoonist RK Laxman is critically ill, here’s hoping for a quick and complete recovery.
  • A report on a planned biopic of Kannada writer Devanuru Mahadeva
  • Nataraja Huliyar, Kannada critic, says there have been no great women Kannada playwrights because they don’t “approach” Shakespeare.
  • Poet CP Surendran on his new book: Poetry is an inward journey, but a novel moves outward

Publishing and Industry

  • 21 non-official members of Maharashtra’s Urdu Sahitya Sabha were sacked by the new government.
  • Nivedita Padmanabhan talks about Pustaka Portal, and on publishing ebooks for non-English languages in India.
  • In that vein, an article from The Hindu talks about how Indian publishers are shifting their focus to digital publishing.
  • Kapil Isapuri is suing the makers of the film ‘PK’, claiming that they plagiarised his book ‘Farishta’ (Angel)
  • The Kannada Book Authority has sought a Rs. 10 crore grant from the Karnataka State Government for the next year. Good luck to them.
  • The biggest publishing story this week, of course, has been about Ravi Singh, who used to be at Penguin India and later Aleph Book Co. He quit the latter, reportedly, over their decision to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus, after political pressure. He is now setting up his own publishing firm, called ‘Speaking Tiger’.
  • The Perumal Madhavan book ban issue has gone to court. Let’s hope for a positive outcome!
  • OUP editor Mini Krishnan talks about why she publishes translations
  • Rupa Publications announced a new business imprint, Maven.
  • Another one of those digital-publishing-is-killing-print-publishing-stories. This time, for Hindi fiction.

Events

The Week in Literature and Translation [Jan 9-15, 2015]

 

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Classical singer Soma Ghosh will sing Meena Kumari’s poetry
  • A new quarterly Nepali lit mag will begin publishing, this April
  • I’m looking forward to Pascal Zynck’s translation of Bangladeshi writer Selina Hussain’s Hangor, Nodi, Grenade. This was one of Satyajit Ray’s favourite stories.
  • I came across a fun historical serialised account of the history of Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands, by historian Francis Xavier Neelam, in the Andaman Sheekha.
  • Arunava Sinha posted a translation of Tunnu’s Computer – a poem by Debarati Mitra
  • Listen to Zia Mohyeddin, Pakistan’s grand man of stage and screen, recite Faiz and Manto
  • A new commentary on Ghalib’s rejected verses:emotion & its expression
  • Prajwal Parajuly’s The Gurkha’s Daughter, published in 2013 will get a Nepali translation this week, published by Nepalaya.

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Via P Sainath’s fantastic rural reporting venture, the PARI network, here’s an account of P.V. Chinnathambi library: “in the middle of the forested wilderness of Kerala’s Idukki district, the library’s 160-books — all classics — are regularly borrowed, read, and returned by poor, Muthavan adivasis.”
  • Charles Chasie’s article documents the history of Nagaland through its rich literary traditions
  • Marcy Newman, American literature teacher, is surprised at the lack of Indian lit in school syllabi
  • Reports from a seminar that touched on ‘protest poetry’ in Kashmir
  • India Spend explains why Indians are losing out on Libraries (by Subadra Ramakrishnan)
  • A year after fierce Marathi poet Namdeo Dhasal died, the storms continue to rage

Reviews

  • Khalid Fayaz Mir’s review of Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Gold Leaves praises its quality of huzn or melancholy.

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • The Sahitya Akademi has finally announced the 2014 Sanskrit award: Prabhu Nath Dwivedi for “Kanakalochanaha”. Here’s a quick overview of the awards and profiles of the winners, for 2014: Parts I and II.
  • This year’s TOTO awards for creative writing were announced: for English, Kaushik Viswanath from Chennai and Mohit Parikh from Jaipur, and for Kannada, Moulya M. from Mysore.
  • Telugu novelist Dr. Adharapurapu Tejovathy was selected for the Spoorthi Award.
  • Here’s the list of winners for the Konkani Sahitya Akademi awards.
  • In Kashmir, a new annual award “Sharf-e-Nadim” has been instituted for the best Na’atkhawan poet of the state in honour of Abdul AhadNadim
  • Submissions For 2015 Dhahan Prize For Punjabi Literature are now open
  • The Tulu Sahitya Akademi awards were announced, and amongst the winners is centenarian and folklorist Gerthila Devu Poojary
  • Hindi writer Kamal Kishore Goyanka was selected for the Vyas Samman award.
  • Iqbal Sayeedi won the Mathias Family Kavita Puraskar 2014.

People

  • Tamil writer Perumal Murugan says he won’t write anymore, withdraws his books after protests from right-wing groups and casteist bodies. Outrageous. #NaanPerumalMurugan
  • Ramesh Chandra Shah, this year’s Sahitya Akademi winner for Hindi, on his inspirations
  • Gopal Das “Neeraj”, poet and songwriter, turns 90
  • Yese Dorji Thongshi, Assamese poet, says “literature is only way to strengthen brotherhood among the people”
  • An obituary for feminist, critic, writer and professor JasodharaBagchi
  • This article calls Suryadevara Rammohan Rao “Telugu’s Paulo Coelho”
  • Urdu poet Pirzada Ashique Keranvi died at the age of 80.

Publishing

  • Will Amazon Prime come to India later this year?
  • What is the reason behind low ebook sales in India? Is it the lack of price differentials with print books?Publishers explain.
  • The Kannada Book Authority plans to revive the ‘reading culture’ by constituting book clubs in schools
  • The Centre constituted a High Level Committee to survey and collect data related to the present status of Urdu
  • Notes on the designing of the Murty Classical Library (rose and gold)
  • Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy donated 280 Konkani books worth Rs 26,500 to Mangalore University
  • Is digital publishing destroying the Hindi pulp novel?
  • The District Administration in Belagavi, Maharashtra, wants to ban this play.
  • A new Telugu e-book store, already has 300 e-books for free
  • Tired of waiting for govt funds, this Marathi literature academy  will raise money independently.
  • In Shahdara, Gautam Book Centre, a bookshop devoted to Dalit literature, soldiers on
  • Surendra Mohan Pathak’s Hindi novel Colaba Conspiracy was India’s most popular book last year.
  • Ahmedabad’s MJ library plans to publish ten popular Gujarati novels as ebooks.
  • Snigdha Poonam lists five Hindi books to look out for, this year

Events

  • The 2nd edition of a two-day children’s literary carnival begins Friday at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
  • The Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF)  2015 will be held from January 23 to 26,
  • The third World Telugu Writers’ Convention will be held in Vijaywada on February 21- 22
  • The eighth All-India Urdu Book Fair in Kolkata, Jan 9
  • At Stella Maris, a seminar on Telugu women writers evaluates their contributions
  • A report from the 3rd edition of Kavita Fest, in Barkur, Karnataka
  • Remember when Kashmir’s litfest, Harud, was cancelled? It’s back.

Who Killed Perumal Murugan?

there is peace in Namakkal, but no justice.”

Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s book Madhorubagan (translated into English by Aniruddhan Vasudevan as One Part Woman) has recently come under fire by casteist groups, who claim that the book is indecent and should be banned. Copies of his books were burned, and his family received threats of violence, because of which his students voluntarily provided them with security.

Madhorubagan is the story of a couple, very much in love with each other, but unable to conceive a child. They participate in a ritual of fertility in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara. The ritual permits consensual intercourse between men and women participating: this could address their infertility, but yet test their marriage. Penguin, the publishers of the English translation, say, “Acutely observed, One Part Woman lays bare with unsparing clarity a relationship caught between the dictates of social convention and the tug of personal anxieties, vividly conjuring an intimate and unsettling portrait of marriage, love and sex.” Scroll.in published an excerpt, here.

The protests from casteist groups come because of the depiction of relations between men and women of different castes, in the book. After the book burning, when protests escalated to demands of arrest, Perumal Murugan posted on Facebook, saying Author Perumal Murugan has died. He is no god, so he is not going to resurrect himself. Nor does he believe in reincarnation. From now on, Perumal Murugan will survive merely as a teacher he has been” He asked his publishers to withdraw the book, and indeed, all his writing. He says he will not write again.

This is the story of how aggressive caste politics, supported by the Hindu right, silenced the voice of an author. You can support him by buying the book and signing this petition on Change.org. You could also write to Penguin and ask them not to bow to pressure from political groups (like they did with Wendy Doniger’s book last year) and stand by the author they choose to publish.

  • Buy the book in English translation here or here (ebook) or here (ebook) or here.
  • Read a statement of support from his translator, Aniruddha Vasudevan and his publisher.
  • Read translator and writer N Kalyan Raman on why Murugan’s book is significant to the debate on freedom of expression in India.

#NaanPerumalMurugan (I am Perumal Murugan)

The Andamans in History: Francis Xavier Neelam’s serialised account

“It was a few minutes before 6 p.m. on 9th July 1880. The lone sentry on ViperIsland jetty paced up and down the wharf, his rifle on his shoulder, waiting for the second sentry, who will relieve him at six.

A sepoy of the 23rd Madras Native Infantry Battalion was sitting on one end of the jetty, casting a fishing line.

All was quiet on Viper, the “Hell on Earth” of Andamans — no cries of convicts getting flogged – no hangings at the mausoleum-like, three-domed gallows on the hillock right behind the jetty.”

– F X Neelam, ‘Viper Prison Break’ Andaman Sheekha (July 22, 2013)

For the last two years, Francis Xavier Neelam has been writing quiet, stirring accounts of the history of the Andamans archipelago. I came across these wholly by accident – they’re published in a little-known Andamanese newspaper called the Andaman Sheekha.

Quest for Kala Pathar‘ is a short account of trekking to the highest point in the archipelago, accompanying a historian hunting for colonial graffiti.  Some accounts center around the notorious Cellular Jail, a British prison in the islands, where political prisoners, including Barindra Kumar Ghose, Yogendra Shukla and Fazl-E-Haq Khairabadi were sent during the struggle for Independence. ‘Convict No. 3807‘ is about the favour shown to non-political prisoners by the prison authorities. Others, like ‘Armistice Day‘ relate to the role of Indian soldiers in World War I.

The most tremendous series of posts, though, is a multi-part series titled, ‘Viper Prison Break’. Viper Island was the site of an initial small prison, later replaced by the larger Cellular Jail/Kala Pani. When Cellular Jail was constructed on Port Blair, Viper Island, across the jail, became the site of the gallows. ‘Viper Prison Break’, currently at Part 43, is the intensely exciting account of an attempted jail break by seven prisoners, and the attempts of Colonel Cadell, the British Governor of the islands, to secure them. I cannot tell if it is intended to be fiction, or if it is based on an actual historical account, but it makes for entertaining reading in any case. Viper Prison Break is updated on the Andaman Sheekha website every Monday.

 

 

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