New Delhi: Popular
books in English are cutting through the language barrier to reach
Hindi speaking readers in north India.
Five commercially successful titles, "Hello Bastar", "The Secret
of the Nagas", "Chanakya's Chant", "Women & The Weight Loss
Tamasha" and "Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce", have been
translated into Hindi under a new-tie-up between Westland Limited
and Yatra Books to promote translation of books and original
titles in Indian languages.
"The idea was to realise the true potential of the Hindi market
because Hindi is the fourth major language in the world - after
Mandarin, English and Spanish. But the publishing industry does
not reflect this," writer Namita Gokhale, co-owner of Yatra Books,
There is a new creative confluence of Indian writing unfolding
before us, enabled by "insightful translations and cross-literary
exchanges with 22 scheduled languages as well as Indian
translations of international works", Gokhale said.
The last decade has seen an increase in the volume of translated
literature and orignal titles in Hindi with major publishing
houses like Penguin and Harper Collins-India collaborating with
language publishing companies and even publishing Hindi titles in
their main imprint.
The efforts have been complemented by institutional initiatives by
the government's translation projects and those launched by
foreign missions in India. Hindi is the language of preference in
translations given the large readership. A translation project,
"Indian Literature Abroad" launched by the culture ministry, is
promoting indigenous literature in Indian languages abroad.
But mass market fiction has been neglected by translators in the
zeal to promote classics and textbooks from English to Hindi.
Last year, writer Namita Gokhale's novel "Paro: Dreams of Passion"
was translated into Hindi by Rachna Bhola Yamini while writer
Chetan Bhagat's popular books like "One Night @ The Call Centre"
and "The 3 Mistakes of My Life" have climbed the best-sellers'
list in Hindi.
Salman Rushdie's best-selling historical mass-fiction,
"Enchantress of Florence" was translated as "Florence ki Jadugarni"
"It is a good idea to bring what is popular in Hindi because it
feels nice to address the wide readership. I don't think this is a
trend but it definitely is a way to get acquainted with India.
Hindi is the most hospitable language," writer-poet Ashok Vajpeyi
Best-selling author Ashwin Sanghi says "only the surface has been
scratched and the possibilities are immense".
"There are so many people who try to think like us but would
rather express it better in languages like Hindi. Translations of
popular fiction such as ours which have been drawn from Indian
traditions help them identify with our thoughts and relate
better," Sanghi told IANS. His book Chanakya's Chant is a
contemporary interpretation of the life of the Brahmin philosopher
and strategist Chanakya in the context of Indian politics.
Mumbai-based Amish, author of the "Immortals of Meluha" and "The
Secret of the Nagas", says publishing is finally becoming rooted
in Indian sensibilities.
"I genuinely believe that five years from today, we will have a
situation when other languages will account for higher sales of
books than in English. That is the big change happening in
publishing - it is taking pride in its own culture than knowing
other cultures like in television, where regional language
channels have more TRPs," Amish told IANS.
Writers benefit as well in terms of bounty from increased sale, he
"As a writer, I have a vast network of friends who wanted to know
when 'Hello Bastar' will be published in Hindi. There is a section
which is comfortable in English but would rather like to read in
Hindi," writer-journalist Rahul Pandita, the author of "Hello
Bastar", told IANS.
He said platforms like Flipkart have "made it possible for Hindi
speaking readers to access translations".
"No publisher in the right mind can ignore the Hindi readership
for there is a huge market for mass market books, including
translations. Hindi speaking readers are Net savvy and are reading
new books," Pandita said.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)