Tag Archives: Maithili

The 2014 Sahitya Akademi Awards – Part I

ABOUT THE SAHITYA AKADEMI AWARDS:

The Sahitya Akademi Awards are probably the most significant pan-Indian literature awards (the Sahitya Akademi is the equivalent of a National Academy of Letters). I say this because they span 24 languages (the 22 recognised in the Indian Constitution’s 8th Schedule plus English and Rajasthani). This post contains coverage and background on the 2014 Awards: regretfully, not reviews, because I haven’t read all (but one – Jussawala) of the winners. Briefly, the awards are selected by panels of three judges (one panel per language). The prize includes Rs.100,000/-, a plaque, fame, adulation and the envy of one’s fellow humans. Eligible works include volumes of poetry, fiction, criticism, essays, and include translations.

Here is the complete list of winners for the 2014 in English and Hindi (PDFs, Sahitya Akademi website). Part I will cover Assamese to Maithili, Part 2 (forthcoming) Malayalam to Urdu.

ASSAMESE

Arupa Kalita Patangia, Mariam Astin Athaba Hira Barua (Short Stories): The award for Assamese went to Arupa Kalita Patangia, who teaches English at Tangla College in Assam and is one of the most well-known Assamese novelists today. She holds a PhD from Gauhati University (written on women characters in Pearl S Buck’s novels) and has published three novels, nine collections of short stories, a children’s novel and some translations, so far. Last year, she won the Prabina Saikia Literary Award.

  • Books: Two of her previous novels have been translated to English and published by Zubaan Books:The Story of Felanee (translated by Deepika Phukan) and Dawn (translated by Ranjita Biswas).
  • Links: You can read an English translation of her story ‘Ai’ (Mother) in Muse India here.
  • Coverage: Assam Tribune, The Sentinel, Assam Times,

BENGALI

Utpal Kumar Basu, Piya Mana Bhabe (Poetry): Basu belongs to Bengali poetry’s Hungry Generation, a postmodern literary movement (also called, somewhat unmusically, the Hungryalists) that began in the 1960s in Bengal. (This paper by Sanchari Bhattacharya, in English, is a an introduction). A profile by Aryanil Mukherjee says Basu is a geologist by training, although he is now well known as a poet. This excerpt from Amit Chaudhuri’s book on Calcutta includes some conversations with Basu. He won the Ananda Purashkar for Bengali writing in 2006.

  • Books: You can buy volumes of his poetry (in Bengali) from the Parabaas bookstore.
  • Links: There are some dodgy English translations on PoemHunter, some better translations on the Kaurab site. I can’t find published English translations; hopefully, the Sahitya Akademi will translate this collection.
  • Coverage: No Basu-specific coverage in English  that I could find.

BODO

Urkhao Gwra Brahma, Udangnifrai Gidingfinnanei (Return from Freedom, Poetry): The winner for the award in Bodo is a poet, but also a former Member of Parliament (RS) and used to be the head of the All Bodo Student Union. He’s got a blog (mostly in English) and a twitter account (locked).His biodata on the Rajya Sabha website says that he has a number of books published in the Bodo language (no translations listed). He was a member of phitika, a private poetry circle to which he was introduced by Brajendra Kumar Brahma, his uncle and the first winner of the Tagore Award. He heads the UN Brahma Academy, which runs schools across Assam. He writes in Assamese, Bodo and English. (See here)

  • Books: Again, hoping that this book is translated. Translations of Bodo literature are rather rare, though there have been some recent initiatives.
  • Links:
  • Coverage: In a brief statement to the Assam Times, he said, “This is a prestigious award by a big organization in the country. My name figured in the last which I did not expected. It would encourage the new writers,”. A more extended interview in Indian Express has a quote: “I am surprised, and also thrilled. I am also glad I have been elevated from a typical politician to a recognized poet”

DOGRI

Shailender Singh, Hashiye Par (Novel): Singh is a serving member of the Jammu and Kashmir police, and currently serves as a Senior Superintendent (SSP). Singh has degrees in engineering and managementHashiye Par was actually published in 2009, but this year, Oxford brought out an English translation by Suman K Sharma, titled, For A Tree To Grow. It is his first novel, and has been published to some critical acclaim: he’s already won the Ram Nath Shastri Memorial Award for it. Some reviews: Lydia Wahid for Rising Kashmir, Dinesh Sharma for Tinpahar. Singh is also on Twitter.

GUJARATI

Ashvin Mehta (Chhabi Bhitarani (Essays): Although Mehta is known more as a photographer than a writer (Salil Tripathi compared him to Ansel Adams), he wrote several books, as well. A profile at Archer India says, “Mehta didn’t describe himself as a photographer. For him, his art was incidental to celebrating life.” From what I understand, the collection of essays, Chhabi Bhitarani was published in 2010, partly in Gujarati and English. I assume the 2014 prize is for a translation, but I couldn’t find any. There isn’t much coverage, but here are some of his photographs.

  • Books:Chhabi Bhitarani on World Cat, no translations that I can find and some photography books by him, on Amazon
  • Links: –
  • Coverage: –

ENGLISH

Adil Jussawala, Trying to Say Goodbye (Almost Island, 2011): Jussawala is one of the four ‘Bombay Poets’ (along with Gieve Patel, AK Mehrotra, and the late, great Arun Kolatkar). One profile describes his work as a “trenchant critique of the underlying market-driven ethic of the bourgeoisie”. Like some of the other volumes, this was actually published in 2011 by Almost Island. I suppose that I am in a minority amongst the hissy, reverential majority, but I’ve never been a fan. If you ask me, 2013-14 saw many worthy books in English (including poetry) so I’m a little confused by this selection. Nevertheless, much has been written about Jussawala, his life, and work:  Anjum Hasan’s essay in Caravan describes the literary context of his works and the Bombay poets school; Anand Thakore’s essay on his poetry for PIW and AK Mehrotra’s essay on his prose. His remarks on the poverty of Indian writing in English, after he received the award, are already generating controversy.

HINDI

Ramesh Chandra Shah, Vinakay (novel): He was born in 1937 in Almora, Uttarakhand, and taught in universities until he retired in 2000. He served as the Head of the English Department in Bhopal’s Hamidia University, and later at the Nirala Srijanpeeth. He’s written eight novels, several volumes of stories and poems, two plays, several books of essays and has also translated a number of works (from English to Hindi). His wife, too, is a  well-known Hindi writer (Jyotsna Milan) and a translator, notably in Gujarati and Hindi. Shah won the Padma Shri in 2004, which is one of the highest civilian honours in India.

KANNADA

Govindray H Nayak, Uttaraardha (Essays): GH Nayak is a writer, poet and professor of Kannada. He’s previously won the Kannada Sahitya Award, and the Pampa Award for his writing. As a critic, he was unusual in being beloved by one of Kannada’s finest novelists, the recently deceased UR Ananthamurthy. Ananthamurthy was a fan of his critical works, describing the ‘rare objectivity in Nayak’s criticism’. Nayak, in turn, described his close friendship with Ananthamurthy, a relationship spanning six decades. His response to the award has been surprisingly modest: “I know the standard of my writing. I would have been happy if the award was conferred when I was young,”

KASHMIRI

Shad Ramzan, Kore Kakud Pushrith Gome (Poetry): Dr M Shad Ramzan teaches Sufi poetry, folk literature and the cultural history of Kashmir, at Kashmir University. His publications seem to be mainly academic work, criticism and edited volumes thus far. He also has done a number of translations, and won the Akademi’s translation award in 2009 for his translation of ‘Anhaar Te Akus’. He has also won the Harmukh Literary Award in 2007. In 2010, he ran into some trouble for framing a translation question in a university exam on a passage that dealt with the biological evolution of the human body – this led, idiotically to criminal charges of moral turpitude.

KONKANI

Madhavi Sardesai, Manthan (Essays): Dr Madhavi Sardesai, sadly, died only a few days after the Sahitya Akademi awards were announced. She was only 52, and had been battling cancer. This was her second Sahitya Akademi award: she’d earlier won it for a life of Gandhi, in Konkani, titled  ‘Eka Vicharachi Jivit Katha’. Sardesai was born in Portugal and settled in Goa. She was a linguist by training and wrote her PhD on Portuguese influences on Konkani. Her 1993 volume Bhasabaas, preceding this, was an introduction to Konkani linguistics. She’s also known for translating de Exupery’s The Little Prince from the French to Konkani. Sardesai was also the editor of the Konkani monthly, Jaag, for which work she won the Ligoriyo Furtad Trust Prize, ‘Patrakarita Puraskar

MAITHILI

Asha Mishra, Uchat (Novel): I can, unfortunately, find nothing on the author or the book, online. Hopefully some updates after I check out library resources on Maithili writing. Given that the language is spoke by 34.7 million people, you’d think there would be more on this!

The Week in Literature and Translation [Dec 12-18, 2014]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Wilma Bantwal’s debut poetry collection in Konkani, ‘Mukhddim‘ was released in Goa
  • Via First Post an excerpt from Aatish Taseer’s new novel, The Way Things Were
  • Via Scroll, an excerpt from Saskya Jain’s Fire under Ash
  • Naga poet, Corrina Khyojano Humtsoe, released her first collection of poems- The Storyteller
  • Via DNA, an excerpt from Siddharth Dasgupta’s ‘Letters from an Indian Summer’
  • A report on the upcoming Murty Classical Library series, which looks fantastic

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Deepanjana Pal (@dpanjana) hits the nail on the head, about everything that’s wrong with this new religion-based anti-rape comic, Shakti. (‘Augmentation’ unnecessary)
  • K Satchidanandan, author and translator, says the most promising young writers in India, in his view, are “all women, hold real promise and have already proved that they are serious about their commitment to writing” – Janice Pariat, Meena Kandasamy, and Indu Menon.
  • Hartosh Singh Bal in Caravan writes about how publishers are coping with right-wing censorship in India.
  • Shikha Malaviya on why Indian poetry matters now, more than ever (yes, this article perpetuates all kinds of stereotyping and foolishness, but if I don’t link it how will you good folk outrage about it?)
  • A column remembering the Malayalam poet, Velliangattan
  • English writing in India has to still find its voice: Aatish Taseer says, in Mid-Day

Reviews

  • A review of the new comic, Angry Maushi (Angry Aunt) by Abhijit Kini. Maushi fights evil corporate robot ronin.
  • A review of a simply darling little murder mystery set in exotic India (the mystical Orient!) featuring thugs and elephants (what else?) by a British writer . I particularly love the bit about how driving up and down roads in Madhya Pradesh gave her what she needed to write about India (“I felt afterwards there was no way I could have comfortably written the novel without going, though what I got out of it was more impressionistic than specific”). Dear Simon, Go Back!
  • Upamanyu Chatterjee’s new ‘separated at birth’ novel, Fairytales at Fifty, reviewed by Elizabeth Kuruvilla in Mint.
  • A collection of stories for young adults based on speculative fiction and women, Eat the Sky, Drink the Water, reviewed by Bijal Vachharajan in Mint.

NEWS: AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • The Karnataka Sahitya Akademi decided to clear some backlog and announce the Akademi awards for 2011 and 2010. 52 recipients: The Hindu has a story but not a complete list.
  • Odia writers Santanu Kumar Acharya and Pratibha Ray won the Sarala Samman and Kalinga Ratna awards respectively.
  • Vishwanath Tripathi collected his Bhasha Samman award from the Sahitya Akademi on December 18, 2014
  • Gangadhar Meher National Award for Poetry for 2013 goes to Odia poet Soubhagya Kumar Mishra.

People

  • Mahesh Rao (@mraozing) writes about reading, writing, performing Chekhov, and youth
  • A short interview with Hindi writer Mr. Sanjay Shepherd (in Hindi)
  • A profile of Ronald Vivian Smith, Delhi’s chronicler of the absurd.
  • Marathi author, Chandrakant Khot, passed away.

Publishing

  • The excellent literary magazine Almost Island is accepting manuscript submissions (English only, translations accepted if previously unpublished) for a competition. Deadline: March 1, 2015.
  • Apparently there were excellent sales of Odia books at the Rajdhani fair in Bhubaneswar, glad to hear it.
  • In DNA a profile of the great indie publisher, Yoda Press, which is run by Arpita Das (@yodakinthestore)
  • Chetan (he of the देती है तो दे वर्ना काट ले fame) Bhagat has, after hurting the tender feelings of the erstwhile royal family of Dumraon, added insult to injury by threatening to inflict his lifelong friendship upon them. No wonder they’ve sent him legal notices.
  • Selling Kannada books: online sales pick up but apparently, most prefer bookshops

Events

  • Mangaluru to host Konkani lit fest on December 20, 2014
  • Patna had a three day Maithili literature festival last week.
  • Aligarh Muslim University had a seminar on Tamil poet, Subramania Bharti
  • The Mumbai Lit Fest was as precious and irrelevant as one expected. Aakar Patel ruefully reports for Mint.

The Week In Literature and Translation [October 17th to 23rd, 2014]

NEW BOOKS, PUBLICATIONS, AND TRANSLATIONS

  • I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, has been translated into Kannada by journalist B S Jayaprakasha Narayana
  • An excerpt from Iqbal by Zafar Anjum, a forthcoming biography of the Urdu writer and poet (Random House India, 2014)
  • On Scroll, listen to three audio renditions of Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s work.
  • The Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association have launched a new magazine Leap+. See the first issue here.
  • Via La.Lit, an excerpt from the English translation of Nepali writer Khagendra Sangroula’s memoir.
  • Watch Sita Sings the Blues, the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective, on Youtube.
  • Arunava Sinha’s translation of Bani Basu’s The Fifth Man appears to be ready.
  • Caravan has published translations of Telugu poetry by Siva Reddy, Ismail and Varavara Rao, by Raj Karamchedu, and English poetry by Saroj Bal.
  • Ashok Mitra’s Calcutta Diary, a collection of essays on living in Calcutta, has been republished by Routledge.

COLUMNS, REVIEWS AND ARTICLES

Columns and Articles

  • Where were the non-English Indian books at the Frankfurt Book Fair, ask Geraldine Rose and Sridhar Gowda (Bangalore Mirror). A fair question, that ends up, unfortunately in hankering over the lack of an Indian winner for the Nobel again.
  • Lalitha J has a listicle of libraries in Chennai.
  • Kuldeep Kumar in The Hindu on lesbian literature in Hindi.
  • An interview with Tamil Indian-origin poet, KTM Iqbal, who won the Singapore Medallion for Culture last week.
  • Meena Menon on visiting Urdu poet Ghalib’s home, in Ballimaran.
  • Mythily Ramachandran on the emerging Little Free Library movement in India.
  • Vikram Barhat for BBC on locating and selling rare Indian books.
  • Thakur writes about the importance of new English writing on Nepal, in an op-ed for E-Kantipura.
  • Bhavani Raman in the latest Economic and Political Weekly reviews a new history of classical Tamil literature by V Rajesh.
  • Kuldeep Kumar in the Hindu writes about LGBTQ representations in Hindi literature.
  • Snigdha Poonam writes on the rise of MBA graduates publishing novels in India.

Reviews

  • Eunice D’Souza reviews Ashok Srinivasan’s collection of short stories, Book of Common Signs (Fourth Estate 2014) in the Bangalore Mirror. “..Srinivasan lets himself down by turning out the usual treacle.”
  • SB Easwaran in Outlook is all praise for the new Penguin India reprints of Raja Rao’s novels and works.Zafar Anjum writes about the debt that Indian literature in English owes to Raja Rao’s Kanthapura.
  • Paromita Vohra reviews Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend.

NEWS: AWARDS, EVENTS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHERS

News

  • The Language Committee of the Wikipedia Foundation has endorsed the project for a Maithili Wikipedia.
  • Dr Tarannum Riyaz, noted critic and poet, has been awarded the SAARC literary award, 2014.
  • The longlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, 2015 has been announced.
  • The shortlists for the Tata Literature Live awards for best first book (fiction and non-fiction), book of the year (fiction and non-fiction), and business book have been announced.
  • The Samanvay Bhasha Samman for this year will be awarded to Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi.
  • Mandharke Madhava Pai has won the Basti Vaman Shenoy Vishwa Konkani Seva Award for services to the Konkani language and for translations.
  • Publishing houses in India have formed three associations to tackle predatory pricing by Amazon and Flipkart. Malavika Velayanikal has an overview.
  • Wikisource has launched a new open access platform for Odia.
  • The Odia poet Ramakant Rath is among 13 other persons who were recognised by the Odisha government for their contribution to the Odia people.

Obituaries

  • Telugu writer and radio artist Turaga Janaki Ammal passed away. She was 80 years old. We havean obit with some resources and translations.
  • Tamil writer Rajam Krishnan passed away. She was 90 years old. We have an obituary and links to some of her works.

Events

  • The schedule for the best litfest that India has – Samanvay is out. It is one of the few festivals that will cover literature from all over the country, and not just in English.
  • Punjabi University in collaboration with Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, organised a two-day seminar on “100 years of Punjabi theatre”, dedicated to noted playwright and director Balwant Gargi
  • News reports from the ongoing International Urdu Festival, in Karachi – The Express Tribune, The News, Dawn,
  • News reports from the Urdu Drama Festival in Delhi – The Hindu.
  • The Chandigarh Lit Fest is revising its format to have seminar-type sessions
  • Moscow hosted a Hindi conference last week.

General

  • An interview with Ranjit Hoskote on Hyderabad, and poetry.
  • An interview with Vijay Seshadri, who won the Pulitzer for poetry.