Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet
Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

One has to be cautious when it comes to announcements of books being adapted into films. A book might get optioned for film, announcements might get made but the making of a real film rarely follows them. Mohsin Hamid was lucky in getting Mira Nair to make a film out of his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. So was Jhumpa Lahiri—Nair made a film version of her novel, The Namesake. But even Salman Rushdie had to wait for nearly 30 years before his most famous novel, Midnight Children, was adapted for screen. After many false starts, the film was finally made by Deepa Mehta and released in 2012. Similarly, a film is planned for Amitav’s Ghosh’s The Sea of Poppies (its screenplay is ready), and when Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger won the Booker Prize, a film was announced—apparently, Farrukh Dhondy was to write the screenplay. However, there is no news on both these films.

 Translation panel session with Alfred Birnbaum, Zeyar Lynn, Lucas Stewart and Moe Thet Han
Translation panel session with Alfred Birnbaum, Zeyar Lynn, Lucas Stewart and Moe Thet Han (Image credit: Han Zaw)

It is said that there is only one novel from Myanmar translated into English.  While this isn’t strictly true (there are at least six) Nu Nu Yi’s ‘Smile as they Bow’ gained a much deserved reputation after being the first Burmese novel short listed for a major international award, the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008.  Her translator, Alfred Birnbaum, is perhaps better known for his early translations of Haruki Murakami.  What many people probably don’t know, including myself until last week, is that Alfred has a Burmese wife, lived in Myanmar for eight years and speaks, reads and writes fluent Burmese.

British Asian novelists are struggling to get their work adapted for television because the lack of representation in the creative industries has “paralysed” the process.

Three rising star novelists last night discussed how the tag “British Asian” affected them as writers and in the wider creative industries, with one saying it took “10 times as long” for a book to get adapted for television.