Tag Archives: Tamil

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

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


  • 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 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


  • 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.



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


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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 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


  • 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.



  • 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


  • 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.


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.

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 2014 Sahitya Akademi Awards – Part II

The Sahitya Akademi Awards are awards for literature, presented annually for 24 languages in India. The Sahitya Akademi is a government funded and run national academy of letters. The 2014 awards were presented in December, and this is a brief run down of the winners, organised by language, with links to online content, translations and news. Part I covered Assamese to Maithili, and this part covers awards for Malayalam to Urdu.


Subhash Chandran, Manushyanu Oru Aamukham (Novel, DC Books): Subhash Chandran writes short stories and novels in Malayalam. He’s a journalist by profession.  Manushyanu Oru Aamukhampublished in 2009, has been tremendously well-received – it has already won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Odakkuzhal award, as well as the Bhasha Institute’s Basheer Puraskaaram and Kovilan Puraskaaram in 2012. The book, like non-English literature often is, was serialised  in the Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi  before DC Books published it. In a reflection on the national obsession with the purported wisdom of old men, he is often described as a ‘young’ writer (he’s 42). Chandran is part of a group of excellent young Malayalam writers, including the incredible KR Meera (whose Hangwoman/Aarachar ought to have been a contender!)

  • Books: Buy Manushya Oru Aamukham (in Malayalam) at DC Books, and his other books (in Malayalam) at the Indulekha online bookstore. A translation has not been published as yet.
  • Links: Read his first story in English, ‘America!’ in Caravan.
  • Coverage: In the Malayalam press, I expect (I don’t know the language at all, so no links, I’m afraid) but some English coverage too – Madhyamam, Times of India.


Naorem Bidyasagar, Khung-Gang Amasung Refugee (poetry Cultural Forum Manipur, 2011): the Manipuri award was announced a little after the remaining awards. Bidyasagar is a lecturer at GC College, Silchar, in Assam, where he teaches Manipuri. The book itself is a collection of poems that “deal with the problem of insurgency in Manipur, the socio-economic and contemporary problems being faced by the people of the neighbouring state.”


Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, Chaar Nagarantale Maaze Viswa (autobiography): Jayant Narlikar is an astrophysicist, very well reputed, and has previously won two of India’s highest civilian honours for contributions to science. In an elegant twist, he has turned his hand recently to writing science fiction in Marathi, some of which has been translated into English. He initially wrote under a pseudonym (“N.V. Jagtap”) for Marathi magazines, and won the annual Marathi Vidnyan Competition for his story ‘Krishna Vivar’. He’s won the SA this year however, for his autobiography, which is still available only in Marathi. It details his life in four cities: Varanasi, Cambridge, Mumbai and Pune. (If you have kids who use the Hornbill English texts, you’ll find his name familiar: the story ‘Adventure’ in the Class XI book is by him).


Nanda Hankhim, Satta Grahan (Short Stories): Nanda Hankhim is very well known in Nepali literature circles, and has previously won a bunch of prizes: the Nepali Sahitya Sansthan Puruskar, Ratnashree Puruskar, Bhanu Bhakta Puraskar (he apparently returned this last one), etc. He writes for both, adults and children, and his works include novels, stories, poetry and plays. I can’t find links to books or translations online. I hope we’ll see some soon.


Gopalkrushna Rath, Bipula Diganta (Poetry): Rath has previously won the state Odisha Sahitya Akademi award for 2003-04. He’s currently a member of the Akademi’s General Council.


Jaswinder, Agarbatti (Poetry, Chetna Parkashan, 2011): Jaswinder Singh is apparently a former Naxalite whose first collection of ghazals (lyric poetry, rhyming couplets with a refrain) was published by contributions from his former colleagues. The ghazal has traditionally been in Urdu, but some say that this award means increasing recognition for the ghazal in Punjabi. Singh is now an engineer, posted with the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant in Ropar and has published six volumes of poetry thus far. He says, himself, that “Earlier, I wrote progressive poetry that was called “Jujharu Kavita” (revolutionary poetry)…..“After reading the poetry of Jagtar, Misha and Surjit Pattar, I became inclined to write ghazals,”


Rampal Singh Rajpurohit, Sundar Nain Sudha (Short Stories): There’s nothing (atleast, in the English and Hindi media) that I can find on the writer or the book.


Jamadar Kisku, Mala Mudam (Play): Not much available. Here’s a link to Mala Mudam.


Gope ‘Kamal’, Sija Agyaan Buku (Poetry): Gope Daryani, who writes as ‘Kamal’ is from Uttar Pradesh, apparently now settled in Dubai. He writes short stories, poetry and novels, and has previously won a Sindhi literature award for his collection of ghazals, Sijja Agyaan Buku (Sooraj ke Aage Oak). He’s also won the Central Hindi Directorate Award in 1980 (for writing in Sindhi)

  • Books:-
  • Links: Here’s an English translation by Param Abhichandani, of a story by Kamal titled, ‘Search for Blood’
  • Coverage: –


Poomani, Agngnaadi (Novel): ‘Poomani‘ is the nom de plume of Tamil writer Pooliththurai Manickavasagam. He was born and lives in Kovilpatti. The winning novel was published in 2012 to acclaim: it’s a massive 1,200 page tome that describes the lives of a family over several generations, spanning 200 years, detailing, in particular, caste-related riots. He’s won the first Gitanjali Literary Award for it. A detailed profile in Caravan by N Kalyan Raman says that the research that went into this novel was made possible through a grant by the Indian Foundation of the Arts in Bengaluru. Raman’s essay is a good introduction to the novel and to the author and will simply have to do until someone finds the courage to publish a translation. (TNIE has predictably called it a ‘subaltern saga‘ . Poomani refuses to be identified as a ‘Dalit’ writer


Rachapalem Chandrashekara Reddy, Mana Navalalu Mana Kathanikalu (Literary Criticism): RC Reddy is a Telugu writer and teacher,. He’s Professor for Telugu at the Yogi Vemana University, in Kadapa. He’s previously won awards for his critical writing on Telugu literature, but his views on this are clear: he said in an interview with The Hindu that “literature should have an ideological base” and that he does not believe in art for art’s sake. He has previously edited eight volumes of Dalit literature in Telugu, along with Lakshmi Narasaiah.
  • Books: There’s a bunch of books available, in Telugu, here and here.
  • Coverage: Naturally the Telugu press is on it (my knowledge of the language is limited to some conversational phrases and some very rude words) but The Hindu has this interview.
Munawwar Rana, Shahdaba (Poetry): Munawwar Rana is that rare and lovely thing: an Indian writer, who doesn’t write in English, and yet has an active web presence. This twitter feed, either maintained by or for him, often contains couplets of poetry, including a rather charming thank you to all those who congratulated him on the award. (He also did a Google Hangout on Dec 25). Rana has explained why he writes in Urdu (although he’s as comfortable in Hindi, being from Uttar Pradesh) -“The simple thought of discrimination. The day this word was born Urdu lost its stature. It was never the language of Muslims. It was the language of the common people.” If you understand Hindi/ Urdu, this interview with Ravish Kumar of NDTV is well worth your time.
  • Books: His publications page on his website.
  • Links: Here‘s a large number of ghazals (in Devnagari script – mostly in Urdu, I think) and in Roman script here.
  • Coverage: Plenty (apart from his own) -in English:  Hindustan Times,  and in Hindi: Nai Duniya, plus a link to all the coverage on his facebook page.

The Week in Literature and Translation [Dec 19-25, 2014]


  • The Dalgado Konknni Akademi (DKA) will release three new Konkani books in the Romi script: C ‘Na-em’, a collection of poems by Guadalupe Dias, ‘Kapaz Jaki’, a novel by Willy Goes and another book of poems ‘Motiam’ by Anil Kamat Shankwalkar.
  • Four more Konkani books were released during the Konkani Saahith Kuswar Sammel” :two novels and a collection of short stories translated by Dr Fr William DaSilva, and a collection of poetry
  • Aldous Mawlong, poet from Meghalaya, released his second collection of poems, ‘Collage’
  • Penguin has a new collection of poetry by Kamala Das.
  • Navayana has announced two forthcoming books for 2015, by Aboriginal authors Alexis Wright and Ali Cobby Eckermann’
  • An excerpt from a new graphic novel that “reimagines the story of Anarkali as an anthem for freedom”
  • Aruni Kashyap tweeted that he was working on a new seralised novel in Assamese..
  • A new translation of stories by Devibharati, titled ‘Farewell, Mahatma’ has been released. The translator is N Kalyan Raman.


Columns and Articles

  • Vikram Doctor on 120 years of Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
  • Garga Chatterjee has a list of the top political books in India, for 2014
  • Swati Daftuar has a list of the top-selling Hindi books this year
  • Malati Mathur on translating Indian fiction
  • On sustaining aksharaslokam, an art of reciting verses from Malayalam literature
  • Arunava Sinha’s personal history of Calcutta, “my once and always city of books”
  • Shovon Chowdhury’s tongue-in-cheek column takes a dig at formulaic Indian romance novels.
  • Chandan Gowda on MN Srinivas and the lure of the literary
  • ZM Nofil reviews the year in Indian literature.


  • Two reviews of R Sreeram, debut novel, the political thriller ‘Kalyug’ – Archana Ravi in TNIE and Sravasti Datta in The Hindu.
  • Lisa Hill from the ANZ Lit blog has reviews of Shamsur Rahman Faruqi‘s The Mirror of Beauty and Jhumpa Lahiri‘s The Lowland.
  • Deccan Chronicle has a review of Janice Pariat’s Seahorse


  • The Sahitya Akademi Awards for 2014 were announced. I’ll be posting in more detail about those, by and by.
  • Tamil writer Jayamohan has been selected for this year’s Iyal Award
  • Iqbal Sayeedi, Konkani poet from Bhatkal has won the Kavita Trust’s Mathias Family Poetry Award for the year 2014
  • Madhukar Dattatrya Hatkanangalekar has been selected for the Sangli Bhushan award


  • Tulu writer and editor SR Hegde died, tragically, in a drowning incident.
  • Madhavi Sardesai, who just won the 2014 Sahitya Akademi Award, passed away.
  • On Gobinda Halder — a celebrity poet in Bangladesh and a non-entity in his native West Bengal


  • Penguin has a competition going: design a new cover for their new fantasy novel, ‘Warrior’
  • Odia books saw great sales at the Cuttack book fair.
  • Academic publisher Permanent Black will soon turn 15
  • The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective has raised $10,000 in seed funding to publish books of poetry by contemporary writers with a connection to India


  • Agra will host the SAARC lit fest in 2015.
  • Poet Siddalingaiah will chair the 81st Akhila Bharatha Kannada Sahitya Sammelana in 2015/
  • 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 [Dec 12-18, 2014]


  • 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 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


  • 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.



  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.

Tamil writer Rajam Krishnan passes away at the age of 90

I DO not fully subscribe to the view that works of fiction are all products of imagination. I, at least, internalise real life “visions”, let them play on my heartstrings and bring them out as literary compositions… I keep going in search of new arenas and new experiences.”

– Rajam Krishnan, interview in The Hindu, April 1, 2004

Tamil writer Rajam Krishnan passed away at the age of 60. Her death is reported in The Hindu, the Deccan Chronicle, the Times of India, and the New Indian Express.

Rajam Krishnan was born in 1925 in Musiri, in the state of Tamil Nadu, and was married at the age of 15 to her husband, an employee of the British colonial government. She had little formal education and appears to have been largely an autodidact.

Rajam Krishnan was known for the lucidity of her writing, and for the extensive field work that went behind it. A review by Ambai, of Krishnan’s 2002 novel Uthara Kandam says,

Turning fieldwork into fiction has been attempted by very few writers. This is because this involves travel, preparing field notes and then weaving a story around it. But there is one writer who has done this for many, many years and she is Rajam Krishnan.

Krishnan’s husband worked in the railways, and they travelled extensively for his work. She drew on these experiences for her writing- the novel Mallam Malarndandu is based on her experience of meeting Chambal valley dacoits, and Alaivaai Karayile was based on living with the fisherfolk in Tuticorin. Krishnan’s work profiled women, largely – she was deeply concerned with injustice and sexism. She also wrote about other injustices that she encountered, in the lives of common folk – prisoners awaiting trial, labourers, criminals, fisherfolk. Her works are considered to be part of the modern Indian feminist school- she wrote about the practices that militated against devadasis and on female infanticide. Krishnan was also an avowed Gandhian.

Krishnan wrote extensively – novels, short stories, plays, poetry, and some autobiographical works. Susie Tharu and K Lalitha say that the prodigiousness of her output is matched, only perhaps, by Tagore. In addition to writing, she translated novels from Malayalam to Tamil.

She has won a series of awards – the NewYork Herald Tribune International Award (1950), the Sahitya Akademi Award (1973) for the novel Verukku Neer (Water for the Roots), the Soviet Land Nehru Award (1975) for the novel Valaikkaram (Wrist with Bangles),  Kalaimagal Award (1953) and Thiru. Vi. Ka. Award (1991).

Padma Narayanan and Prema Seetharaman had a good introduction to her work (in English) in the Literary Review – the Hindu’s erstwhile literary supplement. There’s also a generous profile of her in Susie Tharu and K Lalitha’s edited volume, Women Writing in India.

At the age of 84, without legal heirs or financial support, Krishnan fell ill, so the Tamil Nadu government bought the rights to all her books. She died following a long bout of illness.

Her books are widely available in Tamil. You can aso listen to a number of recordings of her work on her Library of Congress page. She’s the subject of a PhD thesis that compares her work with Doris Lessing (by V Geetha).

Some of her novels are available in translation: When the Kurinji Blooms is available in English and Hindi, Lamps in the Whirlpool in English,

The Week in Literature and Translation [October 9th to 16th, 2014]

New Books, Publications and Translations

Mustansir Dalvi has posted new translations of three poems by Marathi poet Narayan Gangadhar Surve.

Pustak Publications has a new website selling e-books in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. Authors already up there include Indira Soundarrajan, Pattukottai Prabhakar, Yandamoori Veerendranath, Neela Padmanabhan, and others.

Satti Khanna’s translation of Vinod Kumar Shukla’s Once it Flowers has been published by Harper Perennials.

A new issue of the North East Review is out.

A trilingual lexicon on 12th century vachana literature in Kannada has been published by the Basavatatva Prachara and Samshodhana Kendra.

A collection of prefaces and introductions written by U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer is to be published.

Gujarat University’s Nirmal Granth Board will be publishing fourtranslations of Kalidasa’s Sanskrit epic, Meghduta (The Cloud Messenger) [English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati] Also, a reminder that Mani Rao’s new translation of Kalidasa’s works, to English, from Aleph will be out this year. She talks about it here.

Bina Biswas has published a new translation of poems by Nasir Ahmad Naseer, titled A Man Outside History.

The Tamil Virtual Academy plans an online wiki for Tamil culture and arts. It’s going to be more wiki than Wikipedia.

Akshay Manwani launched his book on lyricist and poet Sahir Ludhianvi (HarperCollins)

Calls for Submissions / Papers

CFP: Via Kitaab, South Asian Popular Culture, a journal published by T&F is asking for submissions on ‘Graphic novels and visual cultures in India’. Deadline: 14.11.2014

Columns, Reviews, Articles

Ace translator Arunava Sinha was interviewed – he talks about translation, about judging the Hindu Prize and food.

S Ravi reviews Anurag Anand’s The Legend of Amrapali (English) in the Hindu.

Anita Nair reviews J Devika’s translation of KR Meera’s The Hangwoman, in Outlook.

An anonymous column on the endurance of the Sindhi short story.

Malayalam novelist Sethu argues that the lack of experience of war or other major events results in Indian writers focusing on personal tragedies alone. This, Sethu argues forces them to “harp on personal sorrows”. Seems a specious claim to me.

In the wake of India’s mission to Mars, Deepanjana Pal has this fun post on Bengali science fiction.

Mani Rao on her translation of Kalidasa (from the Sanskrit) and the art of translation, generally.

Prakash Belawadi suggests that Kannada writers are officially privileged over all others in Karnataka, and Chandan Gowda responds, saying that’s an absurd claim (they’re ‘societally privileged’). They also debate the Bhyrappa-URA-Karnad spat.

News: Awards, Events, People, Publishers

Cyclone Hudhud has been wrecking parts of the country. One of the worst hit states is Andhra Pradesh, has suffered great losses to lives, livelihoods and property, and now also its historical archives. You can contribute to relief for the victims by going here.

Cyrus Mistry talks about winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and his novels, in The Hindu.

A report by Leonard Fernandes on the fantastic Publishing Next conference that was held in Goa last month.

Yet another litfest – this one in Mumbai, and reportedly, with a focus on Indian authors. I’m not sure about whether this means authors writing in English alone; hopefully not. Mumbai’s other major lit fest, Tata Lit Live, will take place from October 30 to November 2nd. More interesting than either of these is Queer Ink’s new Safe Spaces festival (Q Fest).

Comic-Con Hyderabad begins on October 10.

Five poets have been shortlisted for the Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize this year: Sridala Swami (Escape Artist), Ranjit Hoskote (Central Time); Arundhathi Subramaniam (When God is a Traveller); Keki N Daruwalla (Fire Altar) and Joy Goswami (Selected Poems, translated by Sampurna Chatterji).

Sandeep Balakrishna writes about the Girish Karnad-URA spat.

The Jibananda Puroshkar 2014, in honour of Jibananda Das and awarded for Bengali writing, was given to Imtiar Shamim for prose and Khaled Hossain for poetry, this year.

Karnataka plans a massive convention in April or May next year – representatives from all literary academies/ peethas will be there, including the Karnataka Tulu, Konkani, Kodava and Beary Academies.

The Urdu drama festival will start on Monday next week, and will feature two Urdu writers specifically:  Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Begum Qudsia Zaidi.

The 7th International Urdu Conference begins in Pakistan today, and atleast four Indian poets are participating.

There has been much angst and reflection on the fact that Indian-born Neel Mukherjee didn’t win the Booker this year.

K T M Iqba, an Indian-origin Singaporean who writes in Tamil, has won Singapore’s Cultural Medallion this year.

Free Speech and Censorship

The anti-caste Forward Press has been raided by the Delhi police for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments (this is a penal offence) of Hindus by retelling a mythological story. You can read the issue here. Dalit publisher Navayana has also issued a statement.

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.