Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Waiting for Translation

via complete review a list of books awaiting translation into English recommended by members of PEN. I particularly second Jonathan Rosenbaum's recommendation: Hungarian novel Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai. He says:

This novel is the source of Bela Tarr's 415-minute black-and-white masterpiece of the same title, adapted with the author and released about a decade later. The Melancholy of Resistance, a subsequent novel by the same author, which has already been translated into English (by the brilliant George Szirtes; New Directions, 2000), evinces a stylistic similarity to Thomas Bernhard. Satantango is a ferocious piece of sarcasm, traversing the same day from various viewpoints like a Faulkner novel while recounting the last bitter gasps of a failed farm collective and everything its members do to betray one another.

I had earlier linked to Tim Wilkinson's article on the novel on the Hungarian Literature Online. He makes it sound really tantalizing. Of course if you have seen the movie or read The Melancholy of Resistance there is no further need for encouragement. I just hope that either of the two, George Szirtes, who has translated The Melancholy of Resistance and War and War, or Tim Wilkinson who seems have a good hand for the long serpentine Hungarian sentences too (having translated Imre Kertesz's Kaddish for an Unborn Child) are working on Satantango.

Also another list of translation-awaiting books in New York Magazine. A little surprised (and slightly ashamed too) to see a Hindi book I had never heard of before - Manzoor Ahtesham’s Dastan-e Lapata (The Tale of the Missing Person). Jason Grunebam, a lecturer in Hindi at the University of Chicago, who recommended the book says:

This story of a sick Muslim man, whose disease is both unspecified and seemingly undiagnosable, is quite a postmodernist feat for Hindi literature, where social realism has been the dominant mode for quite some time.

I have heard of the author's name though. I have read one of his stories in an anthology of Hindi stories. This "post-modern" thing in the comment above reminds me (and I take it to mean non-realistic/experimental writing) of another contemporary writer, Vinod Kumar Shukla whose two novels Naukar ki Kameez (The Servant's Shirt) and Deewar mein ek Khidki Rehti Thi (A window lived in a wall) are both very experimental works, far removed from the standard social realist genre. I have read both of them, liked them too but in a low-key sort of way. His poetry collection with the strange title "Wah Aadmi Chala Gaya Naya Garam Coat Pahankar Vichar Ki Tarah" (That man went away wearing a new warm coat like an idea) is also very acclaimed. If I remember correctly all these three books have won the Sahitya Akademi Awards. Servant's Shirt was adapated into a movie too by Mani Kaul which I haven't seen. (imdb link here.) Also related this old but interesting news report from the hindu.


Mr. Waggish said...

Szirtes is working on Satantango right now. It should be published late this year or early next by New Directions. I have a translation of the "Knowing Something" chapter in an anthology, and if it's representative (and I'm sure it is), Satantango is as great as his other books.

My recommendation for translation: Infinite Deadlock, by Dmitry Galkovsky! Supposedly one of the greatest contemporary Russian novels. I'd be very curious to read it.

Alok said...

wow, that's a very good news. thanks!