South Asian Literature in Translation: A Night in the Hills

A Night in the Hills by Manav Kaul; translated from Hindi into English by Pooja Priyamvada

Publication date: 12 February 2019
Publisher: Amazon Westland India
ISBN-13: 978-9387894631

1) Tell us about this book and its original author.

PP: This is a book of short stories by the Indian author and famous film and theater actor, Manav Kaul. In this collection of stories set in the unnamed villages and towns of the country, Manav Kaul mines the varied and many-hued emotions of teenage crushes, fear, love, longing, and lust. Appearing for the first time in English translation, A Night in the Hills (published in Hindi as Prem Kabootar) establishes Kaul as an essential voice in Indian literature.

2) Why were you drawn to choose the book for translation?

PP: I was given a choice to pick a book out of three books up for translation then by Westland. I could relate to this one more because I too grew up in the hills and a lot ot those stories and life situations were so real to me. Also Manav’s Joyce-like style is so enduring.

3) What were the key challenges and surprises for you during the translation process/journey?

PP: The most challenging aspect was to maintain the voice in a different language because some stories are written in the first-person and have almost an autobiographical quality to them. Also, it wasn’t easy to keep the aura of a “life in the hills” intact in English. What was surprising was how easily and smoothly the narratives flowed, which made my task easier.

4) What’s one thing you wish readers knew or appreciated more about this book?

PP: I wish readers know how difficult it is to translate a book into another language and do a good job at it. Our book was hugely appreciated and received good reviews in Indian media and is being sold all over Asia—this feels good.

5) What’s your next translation project that we can look forward to?

PP: I am currently doing two projects with Penguin Random House but the details can’t be revealed yet due to non-disclosure agreements. Next in the pipeline is a book from Hindi to English with Vaani Publications. I love how translation is this two-way task, building bridges between languages.

Author Bio: Manav Kaul was born in Baramulla, Kashmir, and started the theatre group, Aranya, in 2004. He was nominated for a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the film Tumhari Sulu. He is the author of Prem KabootarTheek Tumhare Peeche, Tumhare Baare Mein, Bahut Dur Kitna Dur Hota hai, and  Chalta Phirta Pret, and several plays in Hindi. [Image Source: Pooja Priyamvada]

Translator Bio: Pooja Priyamvada is an author, columnist, translator, online content & social media consultant. An awarded bilingual blogger, she also offers psychological/mental health first aid and has been associated with reputed national & global portals. Her translation titled A Night in the Hills, a collection of short stories by Manav Kaul, was published by Westland Books in 2019. Her ebooks, Mental Health: A Primer and Papa & I are available on Amazon Kindle. [Image Source: Pooja Priyamvada]

Jenny Bhatt is a writer, literary translator, and book critic. She is the host of the Desi Books podcast. Her story collection, Each of Us Killers, and her literary translation, Ratno Dholi: The Best Stories of Dhumketu, were out in 2020. Her writing has appeared in various venues in the US, UK, and India, including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, NPR, BBC Culture, Literary Hub, Longreads, Poets & Writers, and others. Having worked her way around India, England, Germany, Scotland, and various parts of the US, she now lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas.

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