Saturday, Aug 20, 2022
×
Outlook.com
×
Publishing

Booker Prize For Geetanjali Shree May Be A Great Moment For Hindi Literature, But Not Enough For Indian Translations

The International Booker Prize for Geetanjali Shree's Ret Samadhi put the spotlight on literature and translations, but for publishers, they often fail to even provide the necessary breathing space to stay afloat. For a majority of publishing houses, both indie and big, translation work has to be subsidised.

The euphoria over Geetanjali Shree’s International Booker Prize win has lar­gely to do with the fact that a work in translat­ion, especially from a language like Hin­di, has received £50,000 as reward—an astronomical sum. It’s a great moment for Hindi literature, but it will do precious little for literary translations in India, which grapple with woeful lack of funding, say publishers and translators.

The government established Sahitya Akad­emi in 1954 because it was difficult for indep­endent, unfunded and unfinanced publishers to undertake translations in a multilingual country with 22 Scheduled languages, 122 reg­ional languages and 1,726 mother tongues (at the last count). “It was understood that no private player could support such a labour-intensive endeavour for long,” says Ritu Menon, author and publisher/founder of Women Unlimited. For a majority of publishing houses, both indie and big, translation work has to be subsidised. “No one can sustain a tran­s­l­ation-­only programme; it’s just not possible. With long gestations and slow returns, it can only be a labour of love,” says Menon.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement