Travel writing, in the Bengali literary tradition, has an extraordinary appeal. From first-hand accounts of perilous/adventurous journeys to faraway lands to more comfortable ones nearer home, Bengalis love them all. They also love completely fictional narratives as long as they offer the ‘real’ feel of travel.
In today’s globalized world, the role, focus and worth of translation as the contemporary lingua franca can hardly be overstated. As such, it comes as no wonder that, it is through the translation of his selected works (in English and in some regional languages as well) that Mahabaleshwar Sail, renowned for his fiction across the Konkani literary world, has ventured beyond the boundaries of his language, State and the country.
The Odia word, bheda, the title of both the Odia novel and its English version, translates into social difference. It has a subsidiary meaning as well, penetration of a target, which reinforces the baneful effects of difference. The novel brings out the evil of social difference.
In her piece, ‘The Distance to Lahore’, Surjit Sarna, with a deep sense of nostalgia and sadness, asks the pointed question somewhat helplessly: ‘What wrong had we done that we were being made to suffer the consequences of the wrong decisions of our leaders? Our generation has borne this tragedy of history!
Firstly, the spartan simplicity of the titlemai, (all in lower case), is an intuitively accurate choice. It has a generic resonance that touches a chord in the reader. Next, the opening line ‘We always knew that mother had a weak spine’ makes us wonder if the pun is intended.
Astalwart champion of the socialist cause, Premchand gained iconic status and world-wide fame by virtue of his socially realistic approach, deep and strong ties with his surroundings, authentic depiction of rural life and its issues, realistic representation of proletarian experiences, existential angst and a host of other subject-matters.
Azra Abbas is a renowned Urdu poet whose writings reflect the feminist uprising in Karachi. In 1981 Ms. Abbas had compiled a prose poem, Neend ki Musafatain, in the stream of consciousness style and since then she has published a compilation of short stories, a novel, her memoirs and a collection of poetry.
Abeautifully brought out book by Zubaan, Junoon-e-Intezaar could well be a collector’s item. Right from its black jacket cover and bits of Urdu calligraphy adorning its pages, along with the rare Urdu manuscript appended at the end, Junoon-e-Intezaar is a unique book in more than one sense. Krupa Shandilya, one of its translators, states in the Introduction that it was her fascination with the character of Umrao Jan Ada that set her on the search for the sequel to the novel Umrao Jaan…
In the summer of 1947, the flames of Partition seared the souls of Indians and branded them with the torturous brutality of communal violence, and horrific images that would keep them in shock for generations.
The numbers vary but it is estimated that around fifteen million people were displaced and one to two million people died violent deaths.
Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991) was known, and is remembered for her frankness in writing, be it the topics she chose for her stories or the language her characters used. A distinguished writer in Urdu, Chughtai has a huge body of work to her credit—five collections of short stories, seven novels, three novellas along with various sketches. Surprisingly, not much academic work on Chughtai (in English) has been published as a compilation.
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) is one of the great poets of the world and certainly nineteenth-century India’s greatest Urdu poet. Even after one and a half century of his death his reputation is not only intact but grows with every passing day. The reasons are several, the most abiding being that there is a certain metaphysical and existential core to his poetry that will never get dated despite the technological onslaught of modern times.
The most lauded and quoted Sanskrit poet after Kalidasa, Bhartrihari’s genius and his continuing popularity lies in the fact that he speaks to the wholeness of human life. In his Three Hundred Verses (Shataka Trayam or Trishati), he identifies and addresses three universal human preoccupations in one hundred verses each—worldly pleasure, love and renunciation or, more accurately, detachment from the vicissitudes of the world.
This book seems to have been published with the primary motive of proving me wrong. You see, for the past fifteen years or more, I have been going around the world proudly proclaiming that there was no translation in India before the British came (—as indeed there was no Calcutta or no English). When I made this brave assertion at a conference at Columbia University in 2004…
Among the different incarnations of energy, electrical power occupies a unique position for its ease of use and range of applications. Switch off electricity from modern life and you might as well turn off all industrial development, agricultural prosperity, urban and rural services and indeed lose most of the amenities that help improve our quality of life. It is therefore not surprising that successive Indian governments since Independence have given top priority to the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.
The books under review are two collections of short stories by wife and husband Annie Chandy Mathew and P.Chandy Mathew—their first creative efforts. As writers they acknowledge their debt to each other as their lives enrich each other’s ‘story’, yet their short stories need to be looked at as independent works (even though both the collections are imbued with a yearning for basic human values which will restore some order to the chaos of divisive voices, warring interests and frenzied passions.
With the rising popularity of Comparative Literature as a subject of formal study, comparative critical theory has assumed fresh importance as a complementary discipline, and received greater scholarly attention, including curricular provision. But, the discipline suffers from the paucity of adequate primary materials—the literary principles of target literatures essential for the appreciation and evaluation of their individual genius and interrelated aesthetic bearings.
Science students remember Moebius strips fondly; odd playful creations, a clever twist and a basic rule of space lies broken. Run your finger along the side and you feel a strange frisson of confirmation—you always knew what would happen, but it’s still strange. Similarly, Giti Thadani sets out on a road trip—and it’s been established that road trips have led to many a fascinating book, a la Blue Highways—but it’s an extraordinary feeling to find one that compels you to leave your seat and hit the highway.
Few persons are likely to have done more reading of the books on South India written during the colonial period than Kavita Watsa. Intelligently selecting from that reading, she combines her selections with perceptive observations made on journeys through South India as well as in places she has called home during a young life spent on much moving about.
Twenty-one million people spread over 110 countries with an estimated combined income of US$160 billion. So goes the statistics of the Indian origin people world over. A lot has been written on their success stories in the respective host countries. The book under review is one such, but with a difference.