Breaking regional barriers

English translation of Indian writings find web platform

By Our Correspondent in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 21.07.15
Screenshot of the translation website

Bhubaneswar, July 20: From the celebrated Sarala Das' Mahabharat to the unforgettable tales of Fakir Mohan Senapati, classics as well as modern Odia literature are now easily available in English, courtesy young translator Supriya Prasanta.

She, along with other translators, has created a website called Indian Literature Today (ILT) that is both a web magazine and a storehouse of translated literary works of Odisha and many other Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Sanskrit.

"ILT is a quarterly free access online journal which seeks to bring the best of Indian literature in English translation for a large, curious readership," said Supriya. "We are trying to bring in new, less-known voices that deserve to be heard outside their region through this effort."

The online format is easily accessible from and one can find updates on social networking sites about the translations.

"The idea of creating such a forum was in my mind for some time, especially after I left my day job at Cambridge University Press India to start a family. I discussed this idea with friends and colleagues, who are in this field. One of our advisors, Valerie Henitiuk, was a former director at British Centre for Literary Translation, and now editor-in-chief of Translation Studies, Routledge journal. The journey began when we edited an anthology of women's short stories by Odia women back in 2010 and published by Rupantar Centre for Translation," said Supriya.

Other members of this translation group include Bhaswati Ghosh, Ashish Gadnayak, Kannal Achuthan and Suvadip Bhattacharjee.

The biggest concern of the translating team is the issue of copyright.

"Copyright is a great concern and the most important issue. Ideally, both the author and the translator must agree and offer their consent before publishing any material anywhere. Sometimes, this can be a really tricky affair. ILT is an open access journal, so all the pieces are published in gratis. Also, most works are ancient or from decades ago. It is very tough for us to reach the copyright holders in most cases, if there are any at all," said Supriya.

The website now includes translations of short stories by Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, Pallavi Nayak, excerpts from early Odia classics such as Malajahna and Amada Bata, a review of War Wave and the English translation of Brajanath Badajena's Samara Taranga.

Anyone who translates literature in Indian languages into English or those who find the categories interesting and want to contribute - scholars, bibliographers, interviewers and reviewers - are welcome to send in their translated works. With nearly 15 years of experience and having translated more than 50 authors, Supriya is excited about the website.

"With this online journal, I feel like a toddler! Translation is important because it offers a new world of imagination to readers. It is crucial for creating a collective Odia identity or national identity. Translation can actually lessen the cultural disparity. It is time Indian literature in English translation is taught in universities around the world. Translation is indispensable to make a space for ourselves in world literature," she said.