It's time to discover good books, great books, already existing books... In bookstores, the section stocking translations has been growing while promising English fiction is rubbing shoulders with translated regional authors. Slowly, the trend of producing English translations of regional language literature has taken firm hold in the publishing industry.
Of course, this is a direct result of translated books gaining popularity among readers, by becoming a way to connect with and understand languages one doesn't really read, speak or write. A few years ago, a majority of Tamil, Bengali, Marathi and Assamese literature was accessible only to a limited number of readers but now publishing houses have now taken it upon themselves to level the playing ground and publish quality English translations of some of the best regional works in the country.
Penguin India's new June booklist includes two already popular and critically acclaimed books being translated into English. The Woman Who Flew was originally written in Bengali by Nasreen Jahan, a Bangladeshi author whereas The Man Who Tried to Remember was a Marathi novel by Makarand Sathe.
In 1994, Nasreen Jahan's first novel, Urukku, won her the prestigious Philips Literary Award in Bangladesh. Since then, Jahan has written several novels and short stories in several genres including children's literature and won awards like the Alaol Literary Award and the Bangla Academy Award. A novelist and a literary editor with the fortnightly Anyadin, Jahan is a prolific Bengali writer, and now, the English translation of her first and most famous book is being published by Penguin India. Urukku (The Woman Who Flew in English) has been translated by Kaiser Haq, a professor of English at Dhaka University and a poet and lyricist.
The Man Who Tried to Remember, originally in Marathi by Makarand Sathe, has been translated by Shanta Gokhale. Gokhale is a well known Marathi playwright novelist, director and architect.
The novel explores the idea of casualty and memory. Bringing together the stylistic elements of the early 20th-century Marathi novel and the modern European, Sathe creates a scathing and humorous narrative.
Bottomline: A way to connect with and understand languages one doesn't read, speak or write
The Woman who Flew; Nasreen Jahan, translated by Dr. Kaiser Haq; The Man who tried to Remember, Makarand Sathe, translated by Shanta Gokhale; Penguin India, Rs. 399.