Frequently Asked Questions For Women in Translation Month
Women in Translation Month (WITMonth) is an event held every August devoted to spotlighting and promoting English language translations of literary works by women. Now in year four, this will be my first year of participation. (All you need to know to join in can be found on The Frequently Asked Questions link above.)
I do not have a count of how many of my 3100 posts on The Reading Life are devoted to translations of works by women writers. In part I think I am drawn to reading works by women authors to help me understand my three daughters, 24, 22, and 19, growing up at times to fast in a world very different from my time. I discovered the work of two of the writers depicted in my sidebar, Clarice Lispector and Irene Nemirovsky, through Prize winning translations. Last month I posted upon two wonderful short stories by Colette, translated from French, a collection of Holocaust poems and letters by Ilse Weber from Czechoslovakia, a newly translated work by Magda Szabo, from Hungary and Japan's Hiromi Kawakami, a multi award winning author.
I don't have any real fixed plans yet for my participation in WITMonth. I looked over some of the collections of Indian Subcontinent short stories on my E-Reader and decided to start with a post on a short story by Ajeet Cour, among the highest regarded of Punjabi writers.
"Happy New Year", set in Bombay, was translated from Punjabi by Khushwant Singh. It appears in a very good anthology Our Favorite Indian Short Stories edited by Singh and Neelem Kumar. There are two central characters, Kupoor and his wife. Kupoor, a long time government clerk, has just received promotion to the coveted position of personal assistant to the Honorable Minister. He is no longer just Kupoor, he is Sahib Kupoor. He received his first "gift" from a businessman seeking a favor from the minister, an expensive bottle of scotch. His coworkers suggests he should have a New Years Party at his house, to celebrate the promotion. When he comes home his wife is infuriated by the bottle of scotch, even more she is angered because she will have to prepare a meal for the guests and their wives. She also castigated him by telling him New Years Day is an English holiday, suggesting he is giving up his heritage.
As the dinner proceeds his coworkers tell him a story of another sahib who used his contacts to become wealthy through "gifts". We learn nothing much happens without a proper gift. Kupoor tries to explain this to his wife but she is mad over the expense of the meal. This is a very well done story about a marriage. I enjoyed it a lot.
I hope to participate more in Women in Translation Month
AJEET COUR Born in 1934, Ajeet Cour is one of the better known Punjabi writers. Some of her important collections of short stories are Gulbano, Mahik Di Maut, But Shikan, Saviyan and Churiyan. And among her novelletes are Postmortem, Dhup Wala Sheher, Khana Badosh and Kachche Ranga de Sheher. She is the recipient of Punjabi Academy Award (1984) and Sahitya Akademi Award (1986) for Khana Badosh.
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