Reviewed by Neera Kashyap
Title: The Angel’s Beauty Spots
Author: K.R. Meera
Translator: J. Devika
Publisher: Aleph Book Company, 2019
Starting her career as a journalist with Malayala Manorma, K.R.Meera went onto become a prolific and acclaimed Malayalam writer of short story collections, novellas, novels and children’s books. Her very first collection of short stories, Ormayude Njarampu (2002) won several regional awards. Her magnum opus and most famous novel, Aarachaar (Hangwoman) was translated into English by J. Devika in 2014. It won the prestigious Odakkuzhal Prize in 2013, the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014, the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2015 and was shortlisted for the DSC prize for South Asian literature in 2016. J. Devika once again is Meera’s translator of The Angel’s Beauty Spots. A writer, translator and feminist, she is a teacher and researcher at the Centre of Development Studies in Kerala.
The book comprises three novellas through which the book’s jacket says, “K.R. Meera explores the tragedy, betrayal and violence that arise out of the dark heart of love.” The first novella, The Angel’s Beauty Spots begins with Angela’s murder at the hands of her estranged ex-husband in full gaze of her two young daughters, the older one from him and the younger from a married ex-lover. Driven by a blind love, she had married this man only to discover the evil in him — when he pimps her to his friend in their own house. That their older daughter is privy to this, makes Angela feel that something has died within her. Read more
By Jaya Bhattacharji Rose
Amazon India has announced that Kindle will launch digital books in five Indian languages—Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati and Malayalam. The titles include Ishq Mein Shahar Hona by Ravish Kumar (Hindi), Rajaraja Chozhan by Sa. Na. Kannan (Tamil), Mrutyunjay by Shivaji Sawant (Marathi), Ek Bija Ne Gamta Rahiye by Kaajal Oza Vaidya (Gujarati), Aarachar by K.R. Meera (Malayalam) and Mayapuri by Shivani (Hindi). Kindle devices seventh generation and above will support Indic scripts, enabling readers to access such books.
This is a move that could be a game changer in India. Amazon India has moved methodically to embed itself in Indian publishing. First, it launched Kindle with free lifetime digital access provided by BSNL, but only for English e-books. In November, the acquisition of local publishing firm Westland—known for its commercial fiction best-sellers and translation programme—was completed at reportedly $6.5 million (around Rs44 crore), a small portion of the $5 billion allocated by Jeff Bezos as investment in India. In fact, Seattle-based Amazon Publishing’s translation imprint, AmazonCrossing, has surpassed all other publishers in the amount of world literature it makes available in the US. This was first highlighted in December 2015 by Chad Post, publisher, Open Letter Books, on his influential website, Three Percent. In October 2015 AmazonCrossing announced it had a $10 million budget to invest in translations worldwide. It is probably no coincidence that Amazon India vice- president and country manager Amit Agarwal has been inducted into the Bezos core team, which is responsible for its global strategy. Read more
Source: Live Mint
K R Meera (Translated by J Devika)
2014, pp 438
Translated from Malayalam, ‘Hangwoman’ is a gripping narrative about a young woman with the distinction of being India’s first woman executioner. Monideepa Sahu reviews the novel.
This striking novel includes within its majestic sweep the enigmas of the human condition. Life and death; crime and justice; the continued influence of the past in present-day events; of fate and heritage, and the individual’s capability to rise above circumstances and make one’s unique impact; the conflicting facets of man-woman relationships; the author examines all this and more in the course of a fascinating narrative.
Twenty-two-year-old Chetna Grddha Mullick is the youngest member of India’s first family of hangmen, who proudly trace their lineage from several centuries before Christ. We share Chetna’s journey from being the hangman’s daughter to becoming the first hangwoman and a role-model representing the pride and dignity of all women.
Chetna grows up in Kolkata in a poverty-stricken family. Living next to one of Kolkata’s most prominent cremation ghats, Chetna is surrounded by the continuous parade of life and death. Tea shops, barbers, mourners, pushcarts, horsecarts, beggars and sacrificial animals bleating before the slaughter create a din louder than the circular trains. “The mingled scents of sweetmeats cooking in ghee and sunflower oil, and corpses burning on pyres enveloped us.” The author deftly brings to life the chaos and sheer vitality of Kolkata. Read more