One Part Woman bags Sahitya Akademi award

Vasudevan wins honour for translation of Mathorubhagan

April 19, 2017 10:06 pm | Updated 10:13 pm IST - Chennai

Book cover of One Part Woman.

Book cover of One Part Woman.

The English translation of writer Perumal Murugan’s novel Mathorubhagan ( One Part Woman ) has won the Sahitya Akademi’s award for translation in English.

“I am really happy about the award as I liked the translation. It has already won the Canada Ilakkiya Thotta Virudhu,” said Mr. Murugan.

The translation was done by Aniruddhan Vasudevan and the book was published by Penguin.

The prize in the form of a casket containing an engraved copper plaque and a cash component of ₹50,000 would be presented at a ceremony in June.

Emotions retained

“There was a consistent tone of tenderness between the couple in the novel and the challenge was to maintain the feeling in translation,” said Mr. Vasudevan, who is pursuing his PhD on transgender issues in the University of Texas in the U.S. After postgraduation in English, Mr. Vasudevan switched to anthropology for his doctoral thesis.

He clarified that being a member of the LGBT community had nothing to do with him taking up the translation of the novel, Mathorubhagan .

The title describes Lord Shiva in his avatar as a combination of man and woman. “I bought the novel in 2011 in the book fair and immediately liked it. When I made a suggestion to its publisher Kalachuvadu Kannan that it should be translated into English he told me that I could do it. I sent a few chapters to Penguin and Sivapriya, one of the editors, liked it,” he said.

Asked why he had chosen to call the book One Part Woman instead of One Part Man , Mr. Vasudevan said that the translation of the title need not be literal. The Tamil title ends with the masculine classifier.

Mr. Vasudevan recalled that Perumal Murugan faced a lot of controversy over the book and the Madras High Court order in his favour gave the author much needed relief. “The award for translation has also vindicated his right as a writer,” he said.

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