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Indian authors writing in English language

By Ankita Ghosh

While we were busy reading mostly American and European authors to satiate our hunger for novels written in the English language, a quiet and cautious breed of writers were steadily reinventing the idea of English language novels for us, here in the heartland of the subcontinent.

These writers came to be loosely known as ‘Indian authors writing in English language’. As the 21st century progressed and our desperate need to be readily anglicized was reversed by the chronic desire to be homebound, more and more people began reading them and soon they became a phenomenon.
These authors usually fall into two distinct categories. The first category of authors is headed by Chetan Bhagat, Ravinder Singh, Manju Kapur, Anuja Chauhan and the likes. They have equally been loved and loathed. The middle class that was reluctantly welcoming English into their households, loved them as they spoke of a transitioning India and wrote about its average citizens. Read more
Source: Meri News

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Where the Light Gets In: In conversation with Ambai

The eve of International Women’s Day saw people gather at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in Delhi to celebrate the life and work of Dr C S Lakshmi, who writes under the pseudonym Ambai. The Tamil feminist writer and historian is the recipient of the Hutch-Crossword award, Pudumaipiththan memorial lifetime achievement award, the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award of Tamil Literary Garden and the Kalaignyar Mu Karunanidhi Porkizi award for fiction.

In conversation with editor and publisher Karthika VK, Ambai spoke fondly of her girlhood and her family. “I often slept with a book by my side, instead of a toy,” she says, fondly recollecting how her house was sprawling with hard-bound books. “There were only two ways to get out of the house — either by getting married or by pursuing higher education, and I chose the latter, of course,” she adds. Her father did not approve of her choice because he knew that once the bird eaves the nest, she’ll never come back home. “And he was right!,” exclaims Ambai, “I never looked back.” Read more

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Sahitya Akademi awards presented to 24 authors

New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) Twenty-four eminent authors writing in as many Indian languages were today conferred the Sahitya Akademi awards at the annual Festival of Letters.

The recipients were awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh each for their “outstanding books of literary merit”.

Distributing the awards, Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said he hates to call it “award” and rather uses the word “honour”, as according to him the word award projects “monetary” side, which is nothing for writers of such merit.

 “In medieval times, Raja Inderjeet Singh rewarded Acharya Kheshavdass Mishra with some 20-odd villages for his writing, and one can quote so many instances like this. Now thinking of those days, this monetary award ranks nowhere.

“Thats why I say these writers are beyond any award. We, on our part, can only honour their writings and creations in ceremonies like these,” Tiwari said at the award ceremony.

The awarded literary works have been written in 24 Indian languages, including English, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bodo, Kashmiri, Manipuri, Nepali among others. Read more

Source: India Today

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Russian poet laments the lack of awareness about contemporary Indian authors

Eminent Russian poet and essayist Maxim Amelin has lamented lack of awareness about present-day Indian writers among Russian readers, which he blamed on the absence of “direct communication” between the two countries.

Only a handful of contemporary writers, for example Arundhati Roy, enjoys some familiarity back in Russia and for that matter in Europe, but that too because their writings got to be translated in native languages, Amelin observes.

“It’s a far cry from Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay whose works are hugely popular in Russia and several other European countries,” Amelin told PTI on the fringes of the 41st Kolkata International Book Fair where he was a guest. Read more

Source: DNA India

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The Ethics of Translation

By Chandan Gowda

A linguist narrated an anecdote that I haven’t been able to forget. A translator in medieval China complained of budget cuts for the work of translation: “In earlier days, a hundred translators worked together, in one large room, to translate a text. This number is now reduced to forty.” Besides the charms of collective authorship of translated texts, in contrast with the modern figure of the solo translator, the anecdote had held up the value of translation in China.

Translations open up pathways of imagination between cultural communities. While their value appears obvious, a few cautionary observations, especially with reference to contemporary English translations from Indian language, might be worth recalling.

Since great stories about village India or tribal India, to name just two spheres of experience, are likely to be written in Indian languages, only translations, in English or Indian languages, can come to the rescue of curious minds. More generally, an interest in the best works of Indian literature and political thought can be presumed to exist, either now or at another point in time. So far, so good. Read more

Source: Bangalore Mirror

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India: JNU Chairs for four languages

By Basant Kumar Mohanty

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is set to introduce Chairs in four Indian languages to carry out research on comparative literature reflecting the social milieu.

The Centre of Indian Languages under the School of Language Literature and Culture Studies of JNU will set up Chairs on Odia, Malayalam, Punjabi and Telugu.

The chairperson of the centre, Professor Anwar Alam, said that the culture department of the Odisha government had pledged Rs 5 crore to JNU as assistance to start the Chair. The governments of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala have also positively responded to JNU’s request for funds.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed by JNU and the Odisha government soon.

“Our focus will be to bring out comparative literature to understand the social milieu and the value system as reflected in literature in different languages during different periods. The research will not be limited to one language or any specific period,” Alam said. Read more

Source: The Telegraph 

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The maiden novels of Indian languages

By Karthik Venkatesh

The Marathi and Kannada word for novel is “kadambari”. It’s an interesting choice of word and, presumably, the word probably gained currency only in the 19th century. Prior to that, it is unlikely that a word for “novel” existed in many Indian languages since the novel itself made its appearance in India only in the 19th century.
Some experts are of the opinion that Banabhatta’s Sanskrit work Kadambari, penned in the seventh century, was probably the first novel written in an Indian language. Others put Kadambari in an oxymoronic category that is much-contested: the prose poem.
World literature experts have put it out that the world’s first novel is an 11th century Japanese work, The Tale of Genji. The Marathi and Kannada words are perhaps a little gesture of defiance that sought long before our current times to claim that Indians were the first at something. In this case, it’s the novel! Read more
Source: Live Mint

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India: The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards 2017 will be announced on January 16, 2017 during The Hindu Lit for life

The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards is for children’s books published in India. It was introduced to promote excellence in children’s writing and illustration. The award aims to acknowledge innovative publishing trends, and recognise children’s literature as an independent and important field.

This is the second year the award will be given and the winners will be felicitated at The Hindu Lit for Life festival which will take place in Chennai on January 14, 15 and 16. This year, the awards will be given in two categories — Best Author and Best Illustrator. Each award will carry a cash prize of Rs. 50,000, a trophy and a citation. Read more

Source: The Hindu

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Amazon Kindle: Regional language ebooks are one of the best ways to rediscover Indian culture

By Nimish Sawant

I am a voracious reader. I hoard books, both on my Amazon Kindle as well as physical books, because I never want to be in a situation where I do not have anything to read at hand. I got bit by the reading bug back in the seventh grade. But much before it, the love for reading was inculcated in me as I watched my mother and grandmother read books in their free time. I would admire the book art on Marathi books that were lying around in the house, and would keep wondering when I will grow old enough to finish one of these myself.

While I have gone on to finish hundreds of books in the English language since, there are only a handful of Marathi and Hindi novels I have read. My knowledge of regional literature in Marathi and Hindi is limited to authors I studied at school or classic books that I read growing up. I know, I have never really made an effort to read much regional literature. But I would surely love to.  Read more

Source: First Post


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New Release: Uttara: The Book of Answers translated by Arshia Sattar


Penguin present Uttara: The Book Of Answers translated by Arshia Sattar. The book exquisitely captures the heady delights of the original text in all its sensuous, colourful detail—frenzied battles, simmering intrigue, lustful demons, and the final and tragic act in Rama and Sita’s love story.

Of the seven books that comprise the Valmiki Ramayana, the Uttara Kanda is the final and perhaps the most problematic: Rama banishes his beloved Sita to the forest; Rama kills Shambuka, a low-caste man practising austerities that are above his station; Rama is reunited with his sons during a sacrifice at which he loses his wife forever; Rama watches over the death of his devoted brother Lakshmana who knowingly submits to a curse that will take his life.

Uttara Kanda raises more questions than it answers, and Arshia’s accompanying essays skilfully explore the shattering consequences of Rama’s actions even as they unravel the complex moral universe of the Ramayana.

About the translator: 

Arshia Sattar has a PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. Her translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana is now a bestselling Penguin Classic. Lost Loves: Exploring Rama’s Anguish is a series of essays that reads the Ramayana as a tragic love story. Penguin has also published The Mouse Merchant: Money in Ancient India as well as her translation of Somadeva’s Tales from the Kathāsaritsāgara. She works with myth, epic and the story literatures of the subcontinent.