Amruta loves translations and she often mentions how difficult it is to get a good translation. There are several translations available but most of the books have a transliterative approach. “A good translation is the second original,” she said. The BYOB Party at IISc had heated debates about the effectiveness of translation. Fakir Mohan Senapati’s classic Oriya novel Six Acres and a Third is a brilliant translation. This relevantly unknown author changed the course of Odiya literature. To understand the scope of his writing, Amruta offered a comparison that every Indian could identify with – Fakir Mohan Senapati is to Odiya literature what Tagore is to Bengali literature. The plot of the story is layered and revolves around an evil landlord Ramachandra Mangarag. What makes Senapati’s novel ‘s style close to that of magical realism, although it is a realist novel, is the alternating perspectives he uses, including that of the horse, the villager and the foot-soldier. He uses the second person to bring the reader into the conversation; so reading this classic becomes exciting and far from the tedious experience that many people described reading classics engendered. His satirical verve makes the story a joy to read. The book talks about British colonialism; the naivety of the general public; the problem of power, wealth and ownership; linguistic relevance and Oriya cultural presence.
It was also interesting to read about this unknown literary genius and the reason behind his name is a story in itself. If you wonder how Senapati became Fakir, read this review in The Hindu.
Apurba was greatly saddened while reading The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed. This autobiographical account of Kashmir in the 1990s tells the tale of a Gujjar village, the relevant absence of religious fundamentalism until much later and how jingoism is irrelevant to ordinary people. In fact, everyone is merely trying to lead a simple life. The army man too is trying to do his job. Even militancy grows like a tumor; the way it changes one’s mind is a cumulation of various causes and effects. The discussion veered to the presence of violence and the people who really suffer, ordinary people who do not want to lose their families to futile violence. Here’s a brilliant review of this book by Kamila Shamsie.
You can read an interview with the author here.
More books in Part 4.