Tag Archives: Dalit literature

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


  • 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 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.


  • 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




  • 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


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



  • 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 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


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



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.

Disgraceful: how the Sahitya Akademi allowed a Dalit poet to be silenced

I was appalled at the treatment meted out by India’s National Academy of Letters (the Sahitya Akademi)  to the Dalit poet, ND Rajkumar, at an event this week. Mr Rajkumar himself describes the incident here, on the website of Navayana (an independent press and publisher based in India).*

Mr Rajkumar says he was invited  to speak on the topic, ‘My Poetry and I’ by the Sahitya Akademi on November 16th. He was introduced as part of a tradition of Tamil writers. In his speech, Mr Rajkumar took exception to being part of that tradition, and clarified that he did not believe himself to be part of it. He said,

I began by saying: “The respected Isaac Samuel Nayagam introduced me as being of the same tradition as KannadasanMu. Mehta and Vairamuthu [all respected Tamil poets, past and present]. I would like to humbly suggest that I do not place myself in the same literary tradition. I function in a radically different literary field. I have no opinion on their literary work. Fine.

This is what happened next:

Immediately, five members from the audience stood up and shouted deeply hurtful imprecations at me, humiliating and silencing me. One of the five, the advocate Radhakrishnan, president of a charitable organization named after the late chief minister Kamarajar, as well as an outfit called Sivaji Charitable Organization, stood up and made a fist at me. Pointing his finger at me in a threatening fashion, he asked whether I would be able to leave the hall safely after having ‘insulted’ Kannadasan. The others with Radhakrishnan also stood up and shouted threats, not allowing me to continue with my speech.

I did not criticize Kannadasan or even speak about him. I merely pointed out that I did not belong to his tradition. I requested in a calm, soft voice that I be allowed to speak on the topic given to me. Yet, they kept shouting threats at me, creating such a racket that I could not speak. I turned to the organizers and asked them to provide me with the appropriate environment so I could speak. But they, ignoring the rioters, came up on the stage, grabbed me and forced me to sit down

How long will Dalit voices be silenced?

Add your name to Navayana’s protest here

Read S Anand’s (of Navayana) post, about the incident, here

*corrected. I originally called it a Dalit press, but that’s not accurate.

The Week in Literature and Translation [October 2nd to 8th, 2014]

New Books, Publications and Translations

Arun Ferreira plans to write a memoir about his experiences in jail and it will be published by Aleph. He also recommends these six books about Indian prisons. The list includes a translation of Varavara Rao’s Telugu diaries, and Iftikhar Gilani’s Urdu translation of My Days in Prison.

K.M. Balasubramaniam, a founding member of the Dravidian Self-Respect movement and an associate of EV Ramaswamy Periyar, was also a translator. 46 years ago, he translated Manickavachakar’s Thiruvachagam and Thiruvalluvar’s Tirukural from Tamil to English. His translation of Thiruvallavar will be released again this year.

Arunava Sinha has posted a translation of chapter 1 of Samim Ahmad’s Bengali novel, The Seventh Heaven.

Naga writer J Longkumer has published a book of poetry titled “Gift in the Poet: Earth Poetry”.

A new issue of Out of Print magazine is out. It includes a translation of Shrilal Shukla’s short story ‘Among the Hunters’ by Daisy Rockwell.

A new issue of the Indian Quarterly is out. It includes an excerpt from Janice Pariat‘s new book, Seahorse.

Actor Naseeruddin Shah’s autobiography, And Then One Day, is getting a lot of press.

Blaft Publications has reissued a translation of ‘The Palace of Kottaipuram’, a short story by Indra Soundar Rajan.

Outlook has published an excerpt from Pramod Kapoor’s new book on Gandhi.

The taxing work of untranslating a translation: this is fascinating. A “translation slam” works with Akhil Sharma’s writing at the Writers of India Festival in Paris.

ST Yapang Lkr has released a novel in Ao, titled “Kü Mulung Naro Tsüki”

Columns, Reviews, Articles

Prasenjit Chowdhury in Hindustan Times writes about how English can be the ambassador for bhasa literature in India.

David Davidar in Hindustan Times writes about the stories that the middle class (English speaking?) Indian can access.

Somak Ghoshal reviews Saurav Mohapatra’s latest comic book, ‘Way Of The Warrior: The Legend of Abhimanyu’.(English)

Sumana Mukherjee reviews two new Delhi novels: Avtar Singh’s Necropolis and Saskya Jain’s Fire under Ash (both in English)

Nilanjana Roy interviews Neel Mukherjee, they talk about his novel, The Lives of Others, which is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Trisha Gupta writes about Vishal Bhardwaj’s films and the portraya of Shakespeare’s women, in them.

Zafar Anjum in Kitaab on the rise of literary journals in Asia.

Saudamini Jain writes about the forthcoming new translation of Kalidasa’s (Sanskrit) works, by Mani Rao, from Aleph.

Actor, writer and poet Vibha Rani speaks with SS Ghosh on the future of Maithili literature.

EPW is carrying an article by Srinivasan Burra on the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus following pressure from right wing extremists. Ajay Skaria has also weighed in, examining provisions of the Indian Penal Code that allow the banning of books on the grounds of ‘hurt’ religious sentiments.

News: Awards, Events, People, Publishers

At the Goa Lit Fest, there was a lively discussion on the privileging of English over other Indian languages.

A large collection of rare books on the erstwhile Maharaja Ranjit Singh were auctioned by Chiswick in London.

The Utkal Literature Festival will celebrate, amongst other things, writing in Odia, and translations from Odia to English and other languages. [10th and 11th October, Bhubaneswar]

This new website, Rockstand, plans to sell more ebooks in Indian languages. There’s quite a few already, check it out. They’re available for phones/tablets only for now.

The Navjivan Trust also plans to make available all of Gandhi’s works as ebooks.

Julie Sam writes about a new literature festival in India that will celebrate popular fiction.

Granta Mag is accepting submissions for its special India issue until April 1, next year.

Rajni George discusses the challenges faced by family-owned publishers in India today, in OPEN.

In a pleasant and unusual move, Union HRD Minister acknowledged the work of an author from one of the NE states, and called for chairs in honour of Lakshminath Bezbarua, the Assamese writer and translator.

Saeed Naqvi calls for more accessible spoken Hindi , as opposed to formal and Sanskritised language.

English department of the Government College, Mananthavady, is organising a national seminar on ‘Dalit Literature, Identity, Gender and Culture’ at the college auditorium at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday

Toto Funds the Arts had an “After Shakespeare” event in Bangalore.  They’ve extended the deadline on applications for their 2015 awards to October 21.

Cutting Tea Tales is an interesting initiative from Bangalore, aimed at getting storybooks to underprivileged children.

Javed Akhtar, poet and lyricist, will be presenting a new TV pack (program) via TATA Sky, on Urdu poetry.

Federation of Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Associations in India wants online booksellers to stop granting discounts.

The Week in Literature and Translation [18-25th September 2014]

New Books, Publications and Translations

Ghaus Siwani has published a set of Urdu translations of Persian poetry, Do Atisha (‘The Cocktail’). He leaves out Ghalib and Iqbal, but brings in a number of lesser-known poets, including Hafiz Shirazi, Urfi Shirazi, Sa’eb Tabrezi and Abdul Qadir Bedil.

The Kannada literature journal, Aniketana, is back. It used to be published by the Kannada Sahitya Akademi till about six years back, when it was discontinued. A new issue, with the theme, ‘Rural Consciousness in Kannada literature’ is out. The editors have also promised to bring out compilations to cover the six years when the journal was not in publication.

The Hindustani Academy, based in Allahabad, has begun to re-publish rare pre-Independence books in Hindi and Urdu. They’ve begun with a tract on Raja Bhog, by ‘Sameer’ (Ramagya Dwivedi), and will follow it up with ‘Awadh Kosh’ (1934) and ‘Prayag Pradeep’ (1937). The latter, by Shaligram Srivastava is a history of Awadh, and the former, a socio-geographical study of the region.

Mid-Day has published a fascinating account of ‘Dor Mhoineachi Rotti’ (Our Daily Bread), a Konkani journal for Jesuits that has been published since it was founded in 1915.

Sathya Saran has a new biography out (in Hindi) on the life of composer SD Burman, titled ‘Sun Mere Bandhu Re’ (Listen, my brother).

Poet and lyricist Gulzar has published a biography of Urdu poet Ghalib.

Amitav Ghosh has published, on his blog, his introduction to Vedica Kant’s book on India and WWI – ‘If I Die Here, Who Will Remember Me?’

Bengali translator Arunava Sinha often posts short English translations of Bengali fiction and poetry on his blog. If you’re not on the mailing list ,sign up at once!

Columns, Reviews and Criticism

Zac O’Yeah writes in Livemint on the rise in true crime accounts in India.

Jabeen Akhtar writes in the LARB on South Asian literature, and pandering to Western audiences. It met this comment:

Mahmood Awan on reading English translations of work by Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan.

Dr Malini Goswami of Gauhati University spoke at an event on the continuing relevance of Ramayani literature, in Assam.

Poet and blogger Sridala Swami has a new column at The Daily O, titled ‘The Sideways Door’, which will focus on poetry. Let’s hope it means more Indian, and translated poetry, too.

Rohit Chopra at Scroll says more Indians are writing in English, and in a narrower range of sentiment and voice.

In Outlook, Smita Tewari Jassal reviews Navtej Sarna’s travelogue, ‘Indians at Herod’s Gate’ (in English).

Vikhar Ahmad Sayeed has a lovely obituary for UR Ananthamurthy, the Kannada writer who passed away recently, in Frontline.

Kuldeep Kumar reviews Rakshanda Jalil’s biography of Urdu writer Rashid Jahan.

Sunanda K Datta-Ray reviews David Omissi’s collection of WWI letters from Indian soldiers, many of which were translated from Urdu.

News: Awards, Events, Publishing, People

The Akkiraju Ramaiah Pantulua Award, for literature in Telugu, has been given to Chadlavada Lakshmi Narasimha Rao. The event also saw the release of a book of Telugu poetry by Dr.Akkiraju Sundara Ramakrishna.

The biggest prize for Punjabi literature, the Dhahan Award, has gone to Canada-based writer, Avtar Singh Billing for his  novel Khali Khoohaan di Katha (The Tale of Empty Wells).

Malayalam novelist C V Balakrishnan will receive the Padmaprabha literary award for his contributions to literature.

Hindi novelist Govind Mishra will receive the ‘Saraswati Samman’ award for his novel, ‘Dhool Paudhon Par’ (Dust on the Branches).

The World Sanskrit Conference will be hosted in Uttarakhand tomorrow (26th September 2014). 400 Indian Sanskrit scholars will be attending.

Arunima Mazumdar reports in Livemint on a new series of lectures in Delhi on Urdu writing, hosted by Rakshanda Jalil.

The University of Western Sydney has announced a program that will bring together First Nations (?)/Aboriginal writing from Australia and bhasha/Dalit literature from India.

In Bangalore, on September 28, there will be a performance of music and reading in honour of poet Amir Khusrau.

Nayyar Jahan Siddiqui, who wrote a seminal study of Urdu poetry Ahmad Faraz, will receive a posthumous honorary doctorate from Nagpur University.

SAARC plans to set up a massive digital library for literature from SAARC countries.

In Hyderabad, a troupe has been performing protest poetry in Hindi, by poet Sudama Panday Dhoomil.

Outlook’s gossip blog, Bibliofile, reports that Ravi Singh of Aleph Book Company will team up with FEEL Books to bring out a new imprint that may be called Flying Tiger (or Speaking Tiger). There aren’t any details on what this imprint will publish.

Marathi poet Shankar Vaidya passed away following an illness.

Playwright Girish Karnad is in court, following allegations of plagiarism by author Gopala Vajpayee. Apparently Karnad used a song written by Vajpayee in one of his plays, and failed to attribute or credit it.

The third edition of the Bangalore Lit Fest will begin next week. The sessions on Kannada literature look rather interesting.