translating stories transforming lives

Katha Prize Stories



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Various authors
81-85586-00-4 (pb)
Rs: 150
Pages: 192
Cover Design: Taposhi Ghoshal
1991


Katha Prize Stories 1

Hear are 14 award winning stories whose common claim is only to excellence. Selected initially by the editors of respected journals and magazines across India, and published by them during 1987-1990, these stores have been nominated for the Katha Awards by people shoes knowledge of their respective languages and literatures is wellknown. The accent is on the inherent heterogeneity of contemporary India, an India, an India constantly negotiating contradictions and coming-togethers, in fiction that both creates and breaks stereotypes, There is no attempt here to yoke together “universal themes” or “basic conflicts,” yet brought serendipitously together is a galaxy of master writers – the pioneers and the path-breakers.

Translated sensitively into English for the first time, Katha Prize Stories-1 makes for powerful and unusual reading.

 


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Various authors
81-85586-09-8 (pb)
Price: 150
Pages: 288
Cover Design: Taposhi Ghoshal
1992


Katha Prize Stories 2

 

Here are nineteen brilliant stories from Indian writers, both new and established, which explore an exciting range of themes and situations – from the fantastic to  the quietly realistic, the enigmatic to the expected, the melodramatic to the humorous. Seventeen of these stories were first published between 1989 and 1992 by discerning editors of magazines and journals in eleven regional languages. They have been translated for this volume by sensitive artists who have managed to capture the nuances and rhythms of everyday speech that made the originals special. The translations, along with the two originally written in English, are being published here for the first time.


Nominated for the Katha Awards by respected writers, scholars and critics, these stories reinforce the claim to excellence that Katha earned last year with the first of its Katha Prize Stories series which has been called.

 


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Various authors
81-85586-15-2 (pb)
Price: 200
Pages: 280
Cover Design: Taposhi Ghoshal
1993


Katha Prize Stories 3

 

Here are seventeen award-winning stories which set new standards for short story writing in India. Coming in the wake of two highly successful earlier volumes, Katha Prize Stories Volume 3 once again celebrates new and established writers - the pioneers and the path-breakers - who have looked with great sensitivity and perception at the moral and psychological paradoxes of our lives. Fifteen of these stories were written in ten regional languages and were initially selected for publication by discerning editors of journals and magazines during 1991-1993. These and the two written originally in English were nominated for the Katha Awards by people whose knowledge of their respective languages and literatures is well known.


Translated sensitively into English for the first time by winners of the Katha Award for Translation, Katha Prize Stories Volume 3 makes for powerful and memorable reading.

 


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Various authors (pb)
81-85589-19-5
Price: 170
Pages: 272
Cover design: Taposhi Ghoshal
1994


Katha Prize Stories 4

These seventeen stories, winners of the Katha Awards, recreate the fascinating fabric that is India, urban and rural. Woven into them is a range of emotions - from the platonic to the oedipal, the humorous to the poignant, the simple to the intricate. You will find here writers both new and established and writing which ranges from the traditional to the avant-garde Chosen from stories initially selected by discerning editors of respected magazines, journals and publications in twelve regional languages, they have been translated for the first time into English. The sensitive and evocative craftsmanship of the Katha Award-winning translators infuses each story with the flavour of the original.
The collection includes two stories written in English and published here for the first time.


These stories once again reiterate that the Katha Prize Stories volumes have indeed become ...


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Various authors
81-85589-35-7 (pb)
Price: 120
Pages: 226
Cover Deisgn: Taposhi Ghoshal
1995


Katha Prize Stories 5

 

Here, for the fifth year in succession, are outstanding stories. handpicked first by discerning readers, and then selected by our Nominating Editors. The Katha Prize Stories come from storytellers both established and new, and affirm that good writing transcends all barriers, linguistic and thematic.


Thirteen of these stories have been translated specially for this anthology by consummate practitioners of the craft - each a winner of this year’s Katha Award for translation. Two were written originally in English by impressive new talents, and are being published for the first time. This year’s search for excellence has elicited a stunning range of themes, settings and literary styles. A compelling read, this volume showcases the breathtaking potential of the Indian short story.


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Various authors
81-85589-35-7 (pb)
Price: 120
Pages: 226
Cover Deisgn: Taposhi Ghoshal
1995


Katha Prize Stories 6

 

Here,


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Various authors
81-85589-35-7 (pb)
Price: 120
Pages: 226
Cover Deisgn: Taposhi Ghoshal
1995


Katha Prize Stories 7

 

Here,


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Various authors
81-85589-35-7 (pb)
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Pages: 226
Cover Deisgn: Taposhi Ghoshal
1995


Katha Prize Stories 8

 

Here,


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Various authors
81-85589-35-7 (pb)
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Pages: 226
Cover Deisgn: Taposhi Ghoshal
1995


Katha Prize Stories 9

 

Here,


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Various authors
81-85589-35-7 (pb)
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Pages: 226
Cover Deisgn: Taposhi Ghoshal
1995


Katha Prize Stories 10

 

Here,


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Various authors
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1995


Katha Prize Stories 11

 

Here,


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Various authors
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1995


Katha Prize Stories 12

 

Here,

   


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1995


Katha Prize Stories 13

 

Here,

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Katha Prize Stories Volume 1

The translations read well and the depth of understanding and delineation of human character makes one realize how much the educated Indian reader is missing by confining himself to the English language. Some stories are outstanding, like the Urdu “Dream Images” (by Surendera Prakash translated by M Asaduddin). “Room by the Tubewell” (in Bengali by Sarat Kumar, translated by Enakshi Chatterji) has the diverting theme of a pacemaker being stolen from a dead body. The Tamil story “Reflowering” (by Sunder Ramaswami, translated by S Krishnan) has the down to earth relish of Tamil Nadu. These are some of the stories which impressed this reviewer, but by and large the stories read well, whether or not they deserved “prizes” …the range of craftsmanship and technique is amazing, ranging as they do from surrealism to stream of consciousness and even a bit of magic realism.

—V Abdulla, Economic Times, 1991

 

The conception and execution of the Katha Prize Stories series surely represents a unique and special moment in Indian publishing history … What has emerged out of this conscious and well-planned exercise is a fascinatingly supple range of short fiction which, though it does not claim to be representative, brings an intimate, exciting and live touch to what could otherwise have been a dry, academic exercise.

What strikes one is the gentle manner in which the venture challenges the premises of the mainstream publishing industry which believes only in grabbing, monopolizing and exploiting markets in a manipulative way, without generating processes within it that can be participative and creative. The Katha experiment is certainly an intervention, which contributes towards shifting the focus of publishing concepts from insular paranoia to more collaborative processes that can enter laterally in our value systems.

Simultaneously, by the sheer sincerity of its purpose, it highlights the inherent laziness of publishing monopolies who have no need for engaging in any productive homework, who will never take trouble to interact with readers at any level other than that of mere commerce …
This first Katha anthology is only the beginning of several more to follow and is sure to provide fresh impetus to readers for a deeper engagement with the rich plurality of our own regional literatures.

—SM, Economic Times, 1991

 

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 2
Apparently, the short story is pulsating with life in this land of epics. This heartening fact comes out loud and clear from this captivating collection of stories from various cultural zones of the country …the pioneering nature of this serious effort to promote inter-culture dialogue through the English language. For, the Indian ethos and the vigour and intensity of the writers shine through this collection … each writer in his own way opens the reader’s eyes to yet another shape of reality, making him thirst for more.

Rakesh Sharma, The Hindu      

 
Katha is a welcome venture into Indian fiction. English readers should encourage it by buying copies and looking forward to a steady flow of more Katha issues.

— Indian Review of Books

 

The first volume of Katha stories was a difficult act to follow, and the first thing that must be said about the present volume is that is not an unworthy successor. The range is quite wide, from the fantastic to the realistic, from the melodramatic to the humorous. Among writers represented are a Jnanpith winner, and two Sahitya Akademi awardees.

S Krishnan, The Hindu, 1993

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 3

The stories in this collection … invariably focus attention on trends in short fiction writing today. This genre seems to be flourishing best in regional literature, a veritable gold mine, and Katha’s pioneering efforts to bring out translated versions of these meet an exigent need. They moisten the barren patch of short fiction in English …

 

Making a selection from a sea of stories is … a tall order. The spread of stories in the volume cuts across opposing regions and the attention paid to make sensitive translations of the originals comes through in the near flawless end products. Apart from a few editing errors, there is perhaps little here to condone.

— Ranjini Rajagopal, Indian Express, 1994

 

A pan-Indian panorama
While going through the book, it is hard not to be impressed not only by the stories it contains, but also by the method of their selection, presentation and production. Put together more or less in the manner of Pushcart Prize Stories, Katha Prize Stories 3 offers to English language readers, some of the best short fiction written in regional Indian languages.
With a truly pan-Indian perspective, it makes the writers in the country’s many different regions and languages aware of each other’s works and of the problems and themes currently engaging their attention. Its selections for the yearly edition being strictly restricted to the stories published during the previous year, Katha Prize Stories has established itself in a surprisingly short period of three years as an anxiously awaited yearly event watched alike by discerning readers in India and abroad, as well as by writers, translators, and literary journals. Because of the care for quality, it has already become a matter of prestige for writers, translators, nominators, journals to find their names included in that year’s Katha collection.
Katha Prize Stories 3 presents seventeen stories selected from ten Indian languages, chosen by a panel of writers and scholars distinguished not only for their writing but also for their dedication to the cause of literature. The stories focus on the general global problems of erosion of human values (“The Village,” “Yatra”), utter moral deterioration (“Salaam America”), the clash between old traditions and modern ways and the pain suffered by the old on witnessing what appears to them a false life (“Unnikatha”), artificial sophistication which isolates people from each other (“The Island”), women’s rebellion and liberation (“The Verdict,” “No Regrets”) and the travails of prostitution (“The Manic Nymph”). At least one story takes up the much discussed problem of AIDS, calling it “Another name for the Deluge.” The specific Indian problem of caste discrimination (“Ashoka”) is also represented, as is the internationally prevalent problem of the abuse of child labour (in “Fireworks”).

The stories have all previously been published, discussed, debated and recognized for their artistic excellence and, in most cases, deservedly awarded a literary honour. The featured writers are well known, celebrated names. But “Fireworks” stands out as extremely relevant in the present socio-political condition. “Fireworks” touches upon the cruel, almost inhuman practice of employing young children in industrial sectors, in hazardous jobs, without even the barest modicum of safety measures. There children are not only robbed of their innocent childhood, of those tender years which for them will never come back, of killing their dreams and longings even before they could take a proper shape, but are denied any security, and the opportunity to acquire education or skills. If literature can serve any purpose in life narratives of this nature should be sufficient to wake up the so-called custodians of law.

Only the translations are new to this collection. These are very well done, on balance. It is the first publication which gives as much recognition to translators and the job of translation as to the original writing and original writers … it is a book to be read and recommended to readers wanting to know contemporary Indian literature.

—Sharad Chandra, The Economic Times, 1994

Translating sights and smells of everyday life

 

All the seventeen prize winning stories … gracing Volume 3 … carry in them the smells and sights of everyday life, the churning of minds and hearts in a fast changing age where force of gravity is a law best forgotten …Katha seems determined to be an ongoing story of endeavour.                                 

—Chitra Padmanabhan, The Economic Times, 1994

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 3 … is a reading of depth and concentration in the slow unfurling wisdom about the human predicament. In many ways it is a fundamental collection … an important collection. There are seventeen stories in the book ... All have a quiet vivacity in dealing with the human predicament. And many of the stories are literary paradigms upon which a whole social milieu rests.            

The Book Review

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 4
Katha is literally a literary institution. It’s a non-profit making society devoted to “enhancing the pleasures of reading.” Every year it publishes in English a collection of short stories originally written in various Indian languages. This year, women and children come first, stories with adult males as the central characters are in a minority … 

This collection paints striking portraits of male-female relationships …Translation is the essence of national integration. The discovery of the wealth of Indian creative writing through translation is an inspiration. Katha is part of this discovery.

Gillian Wright, India Today

 

To capture the vibrancy of one language into another requires monk-like devotion. To prepare and present each year, in time, a collection of short stories written in regional languages, translated into English, must bring the zeal closer to frenzy, but nothing deters the Katha team from keeping up to its standards.

 

Earlier their goal was to provide good, creative English translations of the regional short stories selected by them. Now, the editor argues, the language should be “not ‘bad,’ yet able to let us be ourselves without having to hide our deepest sentiments and emotions behind the restrained façade of ‘proper’ English.” In other words, a bhasha like any other Indian language, capable describing all Indian experiences …

 

Of the seventeen stories put forward this year, fifteen have been selected from regional languages, while two – “The Weight” and “Zero Sum Game” – were originally written in English. “Zero Sum Game” by Bibhas Sen is pure, unalloyed fun in lucid English. Deriving his subject from something as unliterary as the GATT treaty, the writer has produced a beautiful piece of humorous literature … The other fifteen stories are social in context … all exquisitely written and translated pieces, but the one that stands apart for its skilful portrayal of inner conflicts, nodal swirls, artistic competence and, of course, its almost flawless translation is “The Bed.” It doesn’t merely make you think, it shakes up your entire thinking process so that even much later, the images keep coming back to your mind.

Katha undoubtedly provides some of the best Indian short stories written in 1993.

—Sharad Chandra, The Economic Times, 1994

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volumes 3 and 4
In these days of slipping and sliding values and short-term methods one can only applaud Katha for choosing to walk the “Euclid’s line” in favour of rigorousness and eclecticism …Awards are presented to the nominators, the authors of the stories, the translators and the editors of the journals where the stories first appeared. The last named category (instituted since 1993) is unusual and remarkable since it highlights the contribution of fiction editors to encourage excellence in fiction. Comprehensive notes accompany each volume, representing one knows not how many hours of labour. This is where the Foundation justifies its claim to being a “research” organisation …

 

Volumes 3 and 4 … are products of the “amrita-manthans” of 91-92 and 93-94. In the first volume, eleven Indian languages are represented. The second contains thirteen stories, the two new entrants being Konkani and Oriya. Especially heartwarming is the surfacing of Konkani creativity, a language of a small coastal region ambivalent about its script not very long ago …

In treating the stories of the volume thematically, three concerns emerge. The first brings to the fore the uniqueness of the experience of the people of different regions of India … 
The second trend … [appears to be] the creative use of Indian archetypes in the modern context … The two volumes together affirm that on the showing of three years, ’91 to ’94, Indian fiction is thriving … Volume 4 has improved on the quality of production as well. In this as well as other areas, the series of Katha Prize Stories attains the standard of perfection that Katha Vilasam strives for.                 

—Kalyani Dutta, The Book Review

 

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 5
Prize catch … the best of India Translated.                                               India Today

 

World class

In its search for excellence from a pan-Indian selection of contemporary fiction, Katha without doubt, comes out a winner. It has been so ever since its first volume of translated Indian fiction in 1990. Five years down the line, things get only better.

 

“We had wanted the selection to be more eclectic than in the previous years,” says editor Geeta Dharmarajan in her introduction. She seems to have succeeded. Prize Stories Volume 5 is like a brilliant and stunning patchwork quilt, every piece standing out and holding its own because of its colour, its texture, its unique design.

 

The collection offers a very vast sweep – of languages, styles, content, fertility, arranged marriage, being an Indian abroad, a curious peep into the future and a nostalgic look at the past, are just some of the pegs around which the authors spin out their tales so attractively soaked in the idiom of their land, their province. But there’s nothing provincial about them.

Quintessentially homespun, each translated short story emerges as a highly polished and rounded work of fiction, which can easily hold its own anywhere. These are truly the “world class stories” the editors had hoped for.

 

In a selection so fine, it’s difficult to pick out those stories that are more excellent than others. But any reader immediately singles out the favourites. Three stories that will continue to haunt me are “Unclaimed” (translated from Kannada), “Wing” (translated from Marathi) and “The Pigman” (translated from Malayalam).

 

“Unclaimed,” taking off from the modest shop of a picture framer, soars high into realms of empathy and compassion. The here-and-now needs of a slum dweller make lofty sentiments seem absurd.

“Wings,” the story of a “choiceless” arranged marriage in the family is seen through the eyes of a little girl, Meenu. The trauma of such a marriage impacts even the little Meenu who despite her innocence, can ultimately picture herself as a helpless victim of custom. This is one of the longer works in this volume and perhaps because of this the characters appear a little more finely honed. Delving into the psyche of a disturbed mind, is the fascinating story, “The Pigman,” put together through the unusual format of pages from a diary. The narrative is extremely lucid and in a way, is almost frightening in its clarity.

 

All three stories are remarkable in their sensitivity and in their lack of embellishment. The style is always straight and uncluttered even if the content is often complex and the prose becomes all the more energetic because of this simplicity of style. The sheer pleasure derived from these Prize Stories says it all for the vibrancy and vigour of India in language fiction. For those of us who can speak just one or two of our languages, Katha is a godsend.

 

Translators of Indian stories must have just the right, light touch to be able to change the language and yet not lose the culture. The editor echoes a fairly common sentiment when she says, “English, we are told is a ‘cold’ language, incapable of capturing the nuances and emotions of an Indian story.” In the hands of the Katha translators, it’s not so. It is to their credit that none of the stories here seem to have lost any of the vitality, warmth or magic of the original.                                                                         

— Gouri Salvi

 

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 6

Fluent Fiction

A rewarding collection of regional language literature.

At a time when being Indian and being published abroad spells big money, big fame and bigger media hype, this series shows something remarkable: qualitatively, contemporary Indian writing in regional languages is just as good as Indian writing in English. For the past six years, Katha has been bringing out what it considers is the best in Indian short fiction over each year. This anthology of fourteen stories is no exception. Painstakingly selected and translated into English, the collection offers an insight into an India progressing towards fifty years of independence, an Indian which is going through social, political and cultural upheavals. For this, we have to thank the translators (or should we say transcreators?) as much as the editors. In translation, the stories retain their vibrancy and their subtleties without forsaking the refinement of narrative technique …

 

If one is keen on window shopping the contemporary literary scene in the country, there could not have been a better showcase than this book. All the stories retain a whiff of the region they are rooted in. At the same time, they have the universality that the best of fiction demands.                                           

—Soumya Bhattacharya, India Today, 1997

 

The sixth volume of Katha is an extension of the expected: excellent stories, most of them in regional languages, put together in a committed manner as always. There are thirteen short stories in regional languages, and one that was originally written in English. The stories reflect the multicultural tapestry of India as they narrate the individual creative experiences of some of the most talented writers in contemporary times. For those who have read the previous volumes of Katha – in fact, even one – this volume only echoes the standards it has set for itself through its predecessors. In other words, it makes for a fine read.  

Outlook, 1997

 

Banking on a steady steam of creative translators, many of whom have transformed the act into an art, the Katha Prize Stories make available a small share of the regional goldmine denied to most readers. These collections negate all regional, national and thematic straitjackets and it is India, resplendent in all its diversity, that comes alive in story after story.
By demonstrating a sustained excellence, the recently released sixth volume of Katha Prize Stories establishes itself as an organic extension of its predecessors. The thematic concerns that manifest themselves in this anthology represent not only the dominant issues that kept the country preoccupied in 1995-96, but also those themes that have become a perennial part of the collective consciousness of India.

—Pallavi Rastogi, The Indian Express, 1997

 

Katha’s sixer on India’s fifty

Since its inception in 1990, the Katha Prize Stories series had become something of an institution in the world of Indian literature …
Releasing the book at a quiet function attended by Nirmal Verma and Rajendra Yadav, among other luminaries, Dr Manmohan Singh commented on the impact some of the characters in the stories made on him.
Dr Manmohan Singh … [referred in his speech to how] “Literature creates awareness; that role needs to be preserved. Katha’s work is of tremendous significance in building a new India. All of us in public life need to ensure that Katha flourishes.”

—Nilanjana S Roy, Business Standard, New Delhi, December 27, 1996

 

 

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 7
… worthy additions to what is fast becoming a rich store of Indian literature in translation. With Katha Prize Stories Volume 7, Katha continues its diligent dismantling of the barriers between “mainstream” and “regional” literature in India ... the stories in Volume 7 are thought provoking and imaginative, and a few sparkle especially bright.

Latha Anantharaman, Biblio, March - April 1998

 

Painstakingly selected by a jury of distinguished writers and scholars, it shows evidence of having been subsequently edited with love and diligence. This makes the volume a rare intellectual and emotional treat. Indeed, this volume comes as yet another proof of the fact that Katha has become a dependable deliverer of the best short fiction from India in the various languages every year.

The collection embraces a wide variety of concerns endeavouring to unveil hidden depths of the human mind. Couching this volume are brief biographical entries on the writers with sensitive insights into the responses of both the writer and the translator to the story. This makes the volume a worthwhile peek into the “backstage” of the immensely fecund world of literary creation in the bhashas. More than anything else, the Katha awards and their publication thus, encourage a participative impulse in the reader, involving him in the search for the best. This is, once again, a reminder that there is no dearth of raw material for creativity in India and also that there is abundant talent waiting to tap it. Though rooted in different linguistic spheres, these stories do not merely celebrate the local and the particular. Rather, invigorated by the vitality that these roots give, they successfully deal with common human preoccupations and predilections, nudging the reader to turn his eye both inward and outward.

The Hindustan Times, October 24, 1998

 

Crowded With Talent
 Katha has done it again, has presented for our delectation a stimulating selection of stylish Indian fiction translated into English … it’s brilliant. Sixteen excellent translations of memorable stories packed tightly in a magenta overcoat.

I have to admit that almost all the stories are favourites for different reasons. A grand collection indeed. The translators have obviously laboured with love. Their work is admirable, sensitive, evocative and subtly nuanced as I’m sure the originals are. Katha deserves a round of applause for continuing to give writers in Indian languages much-needed exposure, unearthing a cache of talented translators and revealing the wealth and diversity of literature that lies hidden and unappreciated in this amazing land of ours.

Jaya Banerji, Indian Review of Books, April 16 – May 15 1998

 

All the stories in this collection are representative of the wide diversity of Indian cultures, habits and customs and reveal the depth of talent available in our country. Katha’s attempt to showcase this talent is laudable.

The Statesman, Monday, February 9, 1998

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 7 edited by Geeta Dharmarajan and Meenakshi Sharma continues one of the most important publishing initiatives in recent years ... The volume is superbly produced, which makes it a welcome change from the unattractive get up of most books of translation in the country. The writers featured in the collection include such established names as Prem Prakash, Vaidehi and Baldev Singh while newer talents include Nazir Mansuri, Brinda Charry and Phul Goswami. Another significant feature of this volume is the dominance of women writers. Something for Mr Rushdie to mull over perhaps.

—The Telegraph, January 2, 1998

 

 … Katha has commendably applied the mountain-will-come-to-Mohammed adage to bring the richness of India's literature to English habitues, in a manner uniquely its own. That is, sensitive translations of representative fiction writing in regional languages … Katha Prize Stories Volume 7 continues the task of keeping India in touch with itself via the creativity of its contemporary short story writers.

For the most part, taken together the curiously timely yet timeless tales paint a mesmerizing picture of India in her awesome diversity, reflected in the varied concerns of her people. …So, each story is a brush stroke.

Economic Times, Sunday, February 8, 1998

 

“The Whale” by Nazir Mansuri (Volume 7), for instance, has been translated with such finesse from the Gujarati by Nikhil Khandekar – and it must have been a ferociously difficult task, given the fact that the whole story depends upon its descriptions of the locale for its effectiveness, and the locale is pretty specialized – that is difficult to believe that it wasn’t written in English. Katha also considers fiction originally written in English and Volume 7 contains one of the best specimens that I have read for some time, “The Sisters,” written by Brinda Charry ... And to think we would have never got to read any of them, if it wasn’t for Katha. But the far bigger tragedy? We wouldn’t have known what we were missing.

Roopa Pai, Bookworm, August 1998

 

Katha’s collection of short stories are a treasure, once again
Each annual volume is a collector’s item bringing together, within the pages of a single publication, English translations of the best short fiction of the previous year in all the major Indian languages.

 

It used to be said that Indian language writing translations could never adequately capture the quality and spirit of the original. Year after year Katha has been triumphantly proving this proposition wrong. The boom in the last few years in English translations of Indian fiction – all the big names in Indian publishing have got into the act – owes much to Katha’s trail blazing effort.

 

In making Indian short fiction accessible to Indians themselves, in enabling literary enthusiasts in each language region to discover what their counterparts in other parts of the country are currently reading and writing about, Katha’s contribution is invaluable.

 

And, unlike almost all the other publishing houses where the quality of releases have fluctuated wildly, Katha has shown impeccable taste. Both in its choice of stories and in the quality of its translations, it has consistently upheld high standards ... all manage to convey what is essential for a good translation: the flavour of the original ...“Topi” ...is one of the finest stories I’ve read in my life.

The Week, February 22, 1998

 

Sound, phonetically aflame English translations have become the distinguishing trait of the Katha series. This volume doesn’t disappoint. The rich and vital sounds, dialects and peculiar flavours of various regions are astutely preserved ... the gifted raconteurs seem wholly clued into the grammar of gripping fiction ...

 

The absence of literary ornamentation and the gratifying synthesis of emotion and expression characterize almost all the introspective stories about loss and restoration.

Subhash K Jha, India Today, January 26, 1998

 

The Katha volumes are an accessible celebration of the Indian experience in all its diversity.  … And one thing that the Kathaseries can always be commended for is its faithful adherence to the original text ...Katha has several other achievements, the most important one being the cultivation of a whole new readership for translations of contemporary short stories drawn every year from Indian languages. Which is affirmed by the fact that each of the six previous volumes is into reprints ...

... Katha has filled a huge vacuum ... As the noted Hindi litterateur Bhisham Sahni pointed out while releasing the present volume, “Translations are vital for any meaningful study of literature, for there’s a limit to the number of languages you can learn.”

... the present volume, too, is a medley of voices, all distinct and complementary to each other. Katha is a celebration of the diversity of the Indian experience. If Brinda Charry’s “Sisters”sounds real, it is only because this is a refreshing Indian story with a very Indian use of the English language. It has been presented with its original sounds intact ...

“Sheesha Ghat,” Naiyer Masud’s disturbing tale of critical handicaps, for instance, yields as much meaning as the reader infuses into it. It must surely have been one of the most difficult stories to translate. Not that the others are any easier to reproduce. Sanjay Sahay’s brilliantly detailed Hindi short story about the corrupting influence of authority in Bihar, “Topi,”Khalid Javed’s poignant Urdu tale “Bure Mausam Mein”,which appears as the “Season of Fever”; Phul Goswami’s revealing study of contemporary Assam, “Co-Travellers”(“Sahajatri”); and Nazir Mansuri’s innovative Gujarati tale about the fishing community, “Bhuthar” (“The Whale”), must all have been a translator’s nightmare. But most of them have done well enough to be able to communicate the distinct richness of the voices of different regions.

Considering that the collection opens up to most of its reader’s worlds that wouldn’t otherwise exist for them, the publication of each Katha volume is a happy event. And as Bhisham Sahni would readily testify, the readers are the richer for it.

                                             —Ashish Sharma, The Express Magazine, February 8, 1998

 

Katha has been consistently bringing the latest in Indian fiction. Katha Prize Stories Volume 7 ... carries this tradition forward ... Each story describes a different world, yet speaks of something universal.  They draw heavily from immediate surroundings for both the setting and the imagery, which gives them a very Indian flavour. At the same time, they present a view of what lies beyond the apparent. They are like excerpts from life, magnified to allow the intricacies to come through. Together, the kaleidoscopic view of these “worlds” brings home the concept we know as India.

 

The translations ... have done justice to the original works. They keep the untranslatable” untranslated, retaining the story’s original flavour. ... Katha offers a window to the contemporary literature scene in the country, and peeping, which has always been tempting, here actually proves exciting.

Paritosh Bansal, Business Standard, Tuesday, February 3, 1998

 

Katha has done more for Indian writing in translation than what has been achieved by the efforts of Sahitya Kala Akademi and other such Government aided bodies put together. The December compilation of the “best short fiction published” during the year has become a much- awaited annual literary event ...

Katha definitely has carved a niche for itself in the West, more specifically certain Universities abroad where it has been included as primary reading in their syllabi. Such popularity can, however, be counterproductive. Indian readers exiled from the vernacular tradition can do without any souped-up version of what constitutes “Indian writing.” It needs to be added that these apprehensions are not founded on material fact, and the present collection bears testimony to the rigorous and fair selection procedure followed by Katha.

The sixteen stories that adorn Katha 7 highlights the freedom “mother-tongue” writers enjoy over Indian writers writing in English. There is no conscious effort to “root” their narratives on a self-consciously created Indian milieu. There is therefore, in their writing, a quality of universal reference … And yet, this universal quality filters out of a consciousness that is local and rooted. Which explains the recurring motifs of poverty, loneliness of women, disaffection with the system, family relations, etc. Both these features – universality and local consciousness – counterpoise each other in helping the collection escape trite generalizations.
Naiyer Masud’s “Sheesha Ghat” is possibly the most difficult in the selection. Along with “The Whale,” it is among the more symbolic and complex of these stories. Created with a great lyrical quality that is preserved in translation, there is a haunting, almost magical balance in the tale, especially in the interplay of symbols and in the interaction between extraordinary characters.

Over all, Katha 7 impresses. If you like reading quality fiction, you can read it without apologizing for not being able to read the original. The translations are quality, non niche efforts, with Katha doing what it does without compromising integrity for regional and such like considerations. Readers of Katha 7 will eagerly await Katha 8.

Debraj Mookerjee, The Pioneer, Saturday, January 8, 1998

 

Katha Prize Stories Volume 7 ... comes as yet another proof that Katha has become a dependable deliverer of the best short fiction from India in the various Indian languages every year. The collection embraces a wide variety of concerns endeavouring to unveil hidden depths of the human mind. 

Meenakshi Bharat, The Hindustan Times, Sunday Magazine, October 25, 1997


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