[Reader-list] Translating Bengali writer Subimal Misra

hpp at vsnl.com hpp at vsnl.com
Wed Dec 21 11:43:12 IST 2005

Translating Bengali writer Subimal Misra

V Ramaswamy
hpp at vsnl.com 

Dear Friends

I recently began translating the short stories of Subimal Misra, a critically acclaimed Bengali writer of India.

Misra (1943 -) has been writing for almost 40 years, and has published his writings only in non-commercial publications ("little magazines"). He has himself published his books of stories, novels, and essays. He disavows copyright (for non-commercial use). There is no price for the books, only a contribution of whatever the buyer considers appropriate for this book. If a buyer is dissatisfied with the book he can get his money back. 

Misra is the leading anti-establishment figure in contemporary Bengali literature, and the father of the experimental novel in Bangla. He is a very erudite scholar and cineaste. His writings over the years also move from the traditional forms to the completely experimental, the merging of fiction and non-fiction, and the very form of the book and even typography are played with.

I believe Debesh Ray, the highly respected Bengali writer had said: "We wait for a single line from Subimal Misra."

Critic and writer Mrinal Bose says: "Reading Subimal Misra has always been a learning experience for me. Of late Bengali authors are fast disappearing from my reading list. But Subimal Misra stays on - with glory intact. His strength as a writer is his irreverent and blasphemous voice and his ruthless and uncompromising portrayal of our life and times." 

But Subimal Misra's name is hardly known even in the reading public at large in Calcutta. His books are not easily available. His stories have appeared only in small circulation magazines outside the commercial market.

My translation project has the approval of Misra. I have so far translated 5 short stories, all from his early writing period (late 60s). I would be happy to share these - still in pre-publication draft form - with anyone who is interested. I also have the original Bangla transcribed (in Roman / English), for those who might want to read the original.

I would be happy to receive feedback, on my translation as well as the stories.

I am also keen to work with talented and imaginative illustrators / graphic artists to produce graphic versions of the stories. Possessing a strong visual (cinematic) quality, they do appear to lend themselves to such graphic treatment. So I invite the interest and collaboration of graphic artists.

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