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Your Daily Read: The Music Of Translation

On the science and poetry of translation

Bringing Garquez, Pamuk, Sankar & Murakami to your English bookshelf

At MBRB, we enjoy the exploits of Asterix and Obelix as much as our imaginary voyages into multiple worlds through the works of vernacular and international writers. But were it not for translators such as Edith Grossman, Gregory Rabassa, Anthea Bell, Maureen Freely and Khushwant Singh, we would have been deprived the joys of Marquez, Lispector, Llosa, Pamuk, Amrita Pritam and many more seminal works of writing.

Of late, the MBRB girls have been veering towards vernacular reading over the more acclaimed world writing. So it must be serendipity that Nilanjana Roy has a delightful conversation with renowned Bangla traslator Arunava Sinha in today’s Your Daily Read. 

Here’s what we learnt from the tête-à-tête:

1. We were not alone in deriving no joy from studying our native language in school – Sinha admits that thought Bangla has been the language of communication through most of his life (and also the language from which he translates into English), he didn’t enjoy studying it at school. Are you listening, Mrs. Sharma?

2. “The only reading plan is to read as much as possible” & “Translation – reading, writing, thinking – is woven into every hour of my waking life”  : The secret to excelling in any profession – be it science or writing – remains unchanged.

3. “I start a great many more Bangla books than I finish.” : If you, like us, have a sizeable Abandoned Bookshelf, you are  now in august company.

4. “With the exception of one or two writers….I am still led by books rather than authors when choosing whom to translate”: Which sums up any bibliophile’s reading habits.

5.  On being asked to rate translation on the creative scale, he quotes David Mitchell, who described translation as part crossword puzzle and part poetry.

6. Finally, an advantage that translators have over writers – they never suffer from writer’s block. Touché!

If you enjoy Indian writing in local languages, do check out MBRB’s Bhasha Reading List. And don’t forget to tell us what you think on Twitter and FB!

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