Joothan: A Dalit’s Life has been reprinted in 2014 with an addition, ‘Remember ing Omprakash Valmiki’. This is the third reprint. The English translation of this originally Hindi book was first published by Columbia University Press at New York, as also by Samya at Kolkata in 2003. Omprakash Valmiki passed away in 2013, after fighting a two year battle with cancer.
Literature popularly defined as a mirror of society gets a radically different meaning in the novella, Pethavan by Imayam, published recently in English translation. The myriad functions of caste in Indian society got unveiled through this brilliant literary piece by a master story-teller. It invites us to read ourselves and our society vis-à-vis caste.
My first thoughts on reading Apeetha in English is to wonder how a text considered difficult in terms of language in the original Tamil, reads with such an easy flow in English! The reverse is also usually true. Bharathiyar, who sounds poetically rich in Tamil becomes bland in English, most often. Padma Narayanan, who had already translated two stories of La. Sa. Raa (1916–2007) earlier, even while he was still alive, has translated this novella.
A.N.D. Haksar, formidable, versatile and prolific translator of Sanskrit texts, gives us a gentle and very sweet version of Arya Shura’s Jatakamala from the fourth century, overflowing with the Buddhist virtues of generosity and compassion towards all living creatures. The translation is a reprint and we must be grateful to Harper Collins for rescuing it from wherever it had been abandoned.
It never rains but it pours. This travelogue by an indigent Maharashtrian brahmin describing his travels and travails in North India during the turbulent years 1857-60 and encompassing in particular the events in Jhansi, first published in Marathi in 1907, has now been translated into English three times within the last four years.