Bringing Nepalese Literature to the World
There is a growing emphasis on translation around the world these days, adds Baral, and many publishers now publish more translated works than before. Witness the widespread popularity of authors like Haruki Murakami, Elena Ferrante, Olga Tokarczuk, Han Kang and Mieko Kawakami.
speaking in tongues
But translation itself is not a new profession. The word “translate” comes from Latin translation “postponed, supported” and translators have been an integral part of cultural and intellectual exchanges since The Epic of Gilgamesh was translated four thousand years ago from Sumerian into Akkadian.
Many works by Greek philosophers and mathematicians have survived largely through their Arabic translations. Even in Nepal, the रामायण of Bhanubhakta Acharya Ramayanwhich is considered the first Nepalese epic, was itself translated from Sanskrit.
And while Nepalese literature is relatively young, there are also writers who are pioneers of social realism, psychological fiction and experimental writing, and who have made unique contributions to understanding the human condition.
Michael Hutt says that a certain part of the readership, for example in the UK, is now used to reading books translated from different languages. Besides Russian, French and Italian, Czech, Korean and Japanese scripts are also gaining popularity.
“There’s a whole range of different languages, and people are interested in these books as literature,” he says, “and they’re valued as literature that strikes our imagination and our emotions.”
Nepalese stories are translated into English and published internationally in this scene offers readers a unique geographical flavor. According to Baral, “It increases the likelihood that more authentic and local stories from Nepal will be published abroad, as readers there will be able to find something new there.”
Chuden Kabimo, author of faatsung, also sees the English translation of his book as a positive contribution to literature and emphasizes the role of translations as bridges. He says: “In translation, it is not only the book that is transmitted, but also identities, cultures and history. This helps to bridge the apparent separation between communities and people of different nationalities, and helps us understand each other better.
It’s as if borders are falling, he explains, as the story travels from person to person, country to country. And since its translation, song of the ground was also added to the undergraduate English curriculum at SRM University of Sikkim where, according to Kabimo, history and culture will also be passed on from one generation to the next.