Read To Win

Three translated books you must not miss

An acclaimed translator tells us about the books that have helped her gain in translation.

I have to say I’m tired of people talking about all that's “lost” in translation ‒ the nuance, the subtlety, the local flavours of language, the poetry. All I can think of is how much is gained in translation ‒ new and splendid worlds, ideas, colours, lilting turns of phrase that surprise, images that startle. Given that more and more of us read literature only in one language, it's a real gift to have so many works from such different times and spaces translated into languages that we read with ease and pleasure.

I’d like to talk about translations that have stayed with me over the years rather than ones that thrilled me in 2014. Obviously, behind every great translation, there is a great book.

The Leopard
One that I return to often, just for the pleasure of reading, a book that I read slowly because I don't want it to end, is Guiseppi di Lampedusa's The Leopard (Il Gattapardo in the original Italian). Written in the late 1950s, it tells the story of a dying moment in Italian history, when Garibaldi has begun the process of unification and traditional feudal elites face change and the destruction of their way of life. The book had been translated into English as early as 1960 by Archibald Colquhoun, and this remains the primary (if not the definitive) text for English readers to access this marvellous piece of writing.

Even though the  story and the context are specifically and utterly Sicilian, there is something about the elegant majesty of Don Fabrizio, the prince who watches his world change with a delicate detachment, that is oddly compelling. There is a langour to the prose that refracts the Sicilian sun ‒ the burnished hues of the harsh landscape are softened by the loving eye that captures them for the page.

The book is cynical and humorous, compassionate as well as clear-eyed, gentle and forgiving as it gazes, along with its Prince, at a fading glory. The writing lulls you into thinking that this a story without a central event, but when you wake from the reading dream, you realise that an entire world has died.

A Woman in Berlin
Another book from the 1950s has had me in its thrall for a while now ‒ A Woman in Berlin (Eine Frau in Berlin) a book that called attention to itself in another language before it reached its “natural” readers. Although the book, (in the form of a diary which recounts the occupation of Berlin by the Red Army in the weeks before Hitler's suicide), was written in German, it first appeared as excerpts in an English translation.

It was published in German a few years later, attributed to Anonymous (and if you read the book you'll know why this was necessary). The translation that I've been reading is by Philip Boehm and he captures the flat, uninflected tone of the original and produces a chillingly mundane account of the unspeakable horrors inflicted upon women and others in a city that has been ground into the dust by bombs and jackboots.

The centre of the diary, its ghastly rhythm, in fact, is the continual rape of the city's women by occupying soldiers. The diarist is one of the women who is raped countless times over eight weeks, often more than once a day by one man. With and through her, you become witness to the degradations of a peace that is thrust upon the defeated after a war ‒ hunger, fear, disgust, cunning, even hope ‒ as she does all that she can to preserve the fragile soul inside her brutalised body.

The Gita & Kalidasa
Closer to home and closer to my own work, I remain struck by Mani Rao's translations from Sanskrit, first of the Bhagavad Gita and more recently, of Kalidasa. The Gita has become so shrouded in its commentaries and expositions that we have forgotten the voice of the text itself. Rao restores that, finding a sharp and provocative tone for her reading of it.

At the centre of the Gita lies the vishwarupa,  that awesome moment when Krishna reveals his universal form to the warrior Arjuna. It is a terrifying image of blood and gore and flames and dead soldiers streaming in and out of god's mouth, skewered on his fangs. If there ever was a mysterium tremendum, surely it is this.

Rao's language reminds us that this was a lesson to a warrior on a battlefield, to a man who has to reminded to perform this dharma as a kshatriya. Moreover, she resurrects the Gita as a poem, albeit as a mystical one, with a secret teaching at its core.

Her translations of Kalidasa (notably of Shakuntala and Meghaduta) carry a strong, fearless, poetic voice, her own, as she pulls these texts into our century. It's wonderful to read a work that is not afraid of the text it translates. It becomes, rather, a re-newed work that revels in all that a contemporary voice can add to a well-known and well-loved text. Rao's translations from Sanskrit prove that a classic can never be exhausted by multiple translations, it can only be enriched.

Arshia Sattar translates from Sanskrit into English.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch. For those of you just looking for a high quality fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge has Rs. 4500 off on 22nd September.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of and not by the Scroll editorial team.