2023 is already proving to be another great year for literature from regional languages in India being translated into English, giving these immensely intriguing titles more attention and a wider readership. We present a Platform edit of three translated titles that have released this year and should be on your must-read bookshelf.
Tirukkuraḷ: The Book of Desire
Written by the poet Thiruvalluvar, the Kamattu-p-pal is the third part of the Tirukkural - one of the most important texts in Tamil literature. The most intimate section of this great work - it is also, historically, the part that has been most heavily censored. Although hundreds of male translations of the text have been published, it has also only ever been translated by a woman once before. Tirukkural is award-winning writer Meena Kandasamy's luminous translation of the Kamattu-p-pal. She delves into this classic, and provides the first feminist interventionist translation into English-remaining true to the desire throbbing through the lifeblood of the text, while retaining the drama that pervades the quintessential Tamil world of exaggerated hurt, lover's quarrels and evenings lost to longing.
Read our interview with Meena Kandasamy about the book here.
Dattapaharam: Call of the Forest
Dattapaharam, a powerhouse of a novel by the critically acclaimed and bestselling Malayalam author V.J. James, is a rumination on solitude, man's connection with nature and the strings that attach us to this world. This is a surreal novel where the author's imagination soars like an eagle and words flow like the untouched springs in a rainforest. At times a fable on the modern world, at times a search for identity amid a quest of discovery, and on the whole a moving tale that takes the reader deep into the forests to understand what really makes us human, Dattapaharam is a powerful novel for our anthropocentric age, written by one of the most exciting voices to emerge from the Indian subcontinent.
Ponneelan's first novel is a tour de force. Now translated for the first time, Black Soil lays bare the atrocities faced by the farmers and the human cost of building a better tomorrow. The novel's protagonist, Kannappan is posted to Perumalpuram as the new schoolteacher. The village lies in the black soil region of Tamil Nadu where the river Tamirabarani flows. He's an outsider in this village with Veerayyan, a local farmer, as his only guide and friend. Once settled in his role, Kannappan observes the everyday brutality faced by the farmers at the hands of the sadistic, all-powerful landlord-the Master. Child marriage is common in the village and so is the appalling practice of marrying young lads to older women who then serve as their father-in-law's consort. Through his gentle yet probing conversations with the villagers, Kannappan tries his best to show the villagers a better way of life. The farmers who had begun protesting the excesses meted out to them by the upper-caste landlord soon find an ally in Kannappan. The schoolteacher's sympathies for their cause bolster their waning spirits and replenishes their resolve to fight back.