Archive for May 20th, 2011

Two Bengali Writers

May 20, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (1)

 

It’s clear that the emergence of a vibrant new industry of translation is transforming the literary landscape of India. At an airport bookshop the other day I was delighted to come upon Moti Nandy’s football novels, Striker and Stopper, in a handsome new English edition. I had never expected to see these books outside Bengal – no more than I’d expect to see ‘shukto’ or ‘murighanto’ at a branch of Café Coffee Day.

I read Striker and Stopper thirty years ago (the books have the same titles in Bengali). I loved both books – they are beautifully constructed, well-told stories, with some riveting descriptions of football matches. I also felt that there was something new and admirable about what Moti Nandy was attempting – writing about sport in a gritty, realistic, unglamorized way. I’d never come across anything like it in Indian fiction. It always seemed to me a great pity that the books were unknown outside Bengal – kudos to Hachette India (and its head, Thomas Abraham). Of course a translation industry cannot exist without good translators, and fortunately there are some very gifted young translators in Bengal today. Arunava Sinha, who has translated these two books is one such (Achintyarup Roy, who translated my own Hungry Tide into Bangla is another).

By an odd coincidence I recently happened to meet Bobby (Aparisim) Ghosh, who was for many years the Baghdad correspondent for Time magazine. He told me that Moti Nandy was his uncle and had died in 2010. I was very sorry to hear this – I had always hoped to meet Moti-babu, but somehow the opportunity had never arisen.

And on the subject of translations: it’s a crying shame that so little of Saradindu Bandopadhyaya’s work is available in English. His ‘Sadashiv’ stories made a huge impression on me as a boy – I remember them vividly to this day. The stories are about a boy in Shivaji’s army – an unlikely subject you might think, but Saradindu had a truly capacious historical imagination. His historical fiction ranged over many centuries and covered many different places: it deserves to be better known.



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