May 24, 2020
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As a jury member of an award for the best translation, I plodded through a huge list of entries. My list of the best this year:


My Kind of Girl — Buddhadeva Bose / Arunava Sinha (Random House); The Middleman — Shankar / Arunava Sinha (Penguin): Keeping the natural elegance and verve of the original narratives in balance with the restrained idiom of contemporary English, Sinha translates period work with the same ease as modern writing.

Othappu — Sarah Joseph / Valson Thampu (OUP): Despite the huge cultural chasms involved in this dark, complex plot of a troubled land and its people, Thampu finds a suitable vocabulary to steer the novel smoothly towards the reader in English.

The Hour before Dawn — Bhabendra Nath Saikia / Maitreyi S.C. (Penguin): Maitreyi’s robust translation conveys the lyricism of an Indian language without resorting to a maudlin prose.

The Hour Past Midnight  — Salma / Lakshmi Holmstrom (Zubaan): Holmstrom’s translation reads almost like an original work: the highest accomplishment for any translator.

A terrific translation mysteriously recalled by its publishers: Surendra Mohan Pathak’s The 64-lakh Heist translated by Sudarshan Purohit brought the sights, smells and sounds of the small town into your hands.

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