Translations and Collaborators @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 3)

Image result for Six Acres and a ThirdAmruta 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.

Reader Interview of Apurba (The Regular) @ BYOB Party in March 2018

Tell us something about your book

I wanted to read more about Kashmir as I haven’t really been there. Even though most of us consider it an integral part of our country, I was curious to know about the people who lead their daily lives there. While reading this book, the statistic that I was unable to forget is that for every six Kashmiris, there is one Indian Army soldier. This is very intriguing for me as the book delves into the different point of views instead of a linear model.

It’s a well-written book, maybe because it’s the author’s first. He is a BBC Urdu Correspondent.  I would like everyone to give it a try.

How do you choose your books?

It’s very random, but what I mostly try to do is if I liked something from an author I  read everything he/she has written. That’s how I manage to decide which book to read. Sometimes, I pick completely random books at a bookstore. And this BYOB Party is a great place to find out what to read next.

What do you think about the BYOB Party?

It’s amazing, but I would love for it to happen more often, maybe once a month. I also follow Jaya, Abhaya, and Worth a Read on twitter so I normally know when the BYOB is happening and I always make it a point to be there.

If you had to recommend some books….

I will have to get back to you on that!!


Peace and Post Offices @ BYOB Party in July 2017 (Part 6)

Apurba indulged in poetry with the book The Country without a Post Office by Agha Shahid Ali. This Kashmiri American poet was the recipient of the Guggenheim and Ingram-Merrill fellowships and a Pushcart Prize, and his collection Rooms Are Never Finished was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. His poetry collection is a haunting inditement of the plight of what he remembers as home, a desolation called peace. Apurba also cited an essay by Amitav Ghosh, a touching tribute to the poet, something you must bookmark and take the time to read for the sheer beauty of the person the words pay tribute to and the words themselves.

                                            They make a desolation and call it peace.

when you left even the stones were buried:

the defenceless would have no weapons.


When the ibex rubs itself against the rocks,

who collects its fallen fleece from the slopes?

O Weaver whose seams perfectly vanished,

who weighs the hairs on the jeweller’s balance?

They make a desolation and call it peace.

Who is the guardian tonight of the Gates of Paradise?


My memory is again in the way of your history.

Army convoys all night like desert caravans:

In the smoking oil of dimmed headlights, time dissolved- all

winter- its crushed fennel.

We can’t ask them: Are you done with the world?

Other books that deal with conflict that were mentioned were Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer, Our Moon has Blood Clots and Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita, Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island and Joe Sacco’s graphic novel Gorazde.

Conflict zones tell the same story world over.