LITERATURE FESTIVALS

Translations remain the focus at this year’s Jaipur BookMark. Six sessions you shouldn’t miss

The parallel segment of the Jaipur Literature Festival puts the spotlight on the business of publishing and the world of translations.

The 2018 edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival kicks off on January 25 with an intriguing lineup of writers. The full schedule has been announced and the planning scramble to catch the most interesting sessions has already begun.

But for those who are equally interested in the business and future of publishing and the rich world of translations, there’s also the Jaipur BookMark to consider. A parallel segment of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, it brings together publishers, literary agents, writers, translators and book sellers to “talk business” through focused sessions and discussions. Started in 2014, Jaipur BookMark also focuses on dialogues on translation – the buying and selling of rights, best trade practices, global benchmarks for publishing translations and the future of literary exchanges.

Last year’s edition hosted 25 sessions over five days and included intimate translation readings, where authors and translators like Roberto Calasso, Vivek Shanbhag, Chandan Gowda and Nandana Deb Sen read from their new works in translation. In a session titled “10/10: Reading South Asia in Translation”, ten literary experts came up with a master list of 75 works from South Asia to be read in translation. A session on the politics of literary translation threw up fascinating insight from writers and translators such as Mrinal Pande, Urvashi Butalia, Deborah Smith and Sukrita Paul Kumar.

This year, the focus on translation continues with exciting sessions on language and identity and three prize announcements including the Vani Foundation Translation Award for Indian languages, the Romain Rolland Prize for translations from French to Indian languages and the Oxford Book Cover Prize. The festival will also host writers, poets and translators from across the world with guests coming from countries including Norway, France, Wales, South Korea and Australia.

If you’re planning to attend (Jaipur BookMark begins a day earlier, from January 24) , here are six sessions you absolutely cannot miss.

Writing Wrong, Translating Lives: Keynote Address by Naveen Kishore

Seagull Books has always ensured a focus on translation since it was founded in 1982. The publishing house owns worldwide English-language publishing rights for books by Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Bernhard, Mahasweta Devi and Peter Handke. Naveen Kishore, founder and publisher at Seagull Books and the winner of the Goethe Medal in 2013, will inaugurate the festival by speaking about the task of a publisher to act as a bridge between the writerly act of telling untold stories, sharing new ideas and shedding light on older ones with readers that may not always find their way to these books.
When: Wednesday, January 24, 10.15 am to 11.00 am
Where: Durbar Hall

Language, Identity and Translation: Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, Han Yujoo, Annie Montaut, Anna Moulton, Tara June Winch in conversation with Sudeep Sen

This discussion will focus on indigenous writing and minority languages, ranging from First Nation writing in Australia to Catalan protest literature and Dalit poetry in India. Panelists will look at translation as a tool that enables literatures from across the world to reach out to each other, creating an essential and free-flowing dialogue of culture and identity, and giving a voice to lesser-known communities.
When: Friday, January 26, 3.45 pm to 4.45 pm
Where: Jaipur Bookmark Haveli

Translating India: Vivek Shanbhag, Mini Krishnan, Tridip Suhrud, Sukrita Paul Kumar and Arunava Sinha in conversation with Aditi Maheshwari Goyal

This session, celebrating the commitment and dynamism of those translating, promoting and publishing the vast treasure of South Asian literatures will see practitioners discussing the constraints and challenges of promoting literature from Indian languages, nationally and internationally. This will be followed by an announcement of the Vani Foundation Prize for Translation, a prize that honours translators who have consistently and qualitatively facilitated literary and linguistic exchange between at least two Indian languages.
When: January 26, 5.15 pm to 6.15 pm
Where: Jaipur Bookmark Haveli

How Do Books Travel?: Sampurna Chattarji, Eurig Salisbury, Adriana Lisboa, Sunandan Roy Chowdhury, Hemant Divate in conversation with Alexandra Büchler

This session promises to offer a fascinating glimpse into collaborations between poets and translators, and some of the delights and challenges of publishing poetry from across the world in translation. Translators, poets and publishers will consider a range of activities that create opportunities for sustainable projects and act as a catalyst for new literary connections.
When: January 27, 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm
Where: Jaipur Bookmark Haveli

Translating the Untranslatable: Barbara Cassin, Radha Chakraborty, Akhil Katyal, Mini Krishnan, Galina Lazareva in conversation with Manasi Subramaniam

What does the word “untranslatable” suggest? That which must not be translated? Or the fact that some things simply can’t be translated? Are there elements which shouldn’t be translated, as it might imply a kind of violation? How can one translate in a way that acknowledges the incomplete nature of the process? This session will bring celebrated translators and publishers together to discuss and debate these distinctions.
When: January 28, 3.45 pm to 4.45 pm
Where: Jaipur Bookmark Haveli

BonJour India: Translating French Literature to Indian languages: Annie Montaut, Michele Albaret-Maatsch, Renuka George, Chinmoy Guha and Namita Gokhale, moderated by Nicolas Idier

A part of BonJour India, curated by Embassy of France in India, this session will also host the award ceremony for the first Romain Rolland prize, awarding the best French fiction title translated into Indian languages.

When: January 28, 5.15 pm to 6.15 pm
Where: Jaipur Bookmark Haveli

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.