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The Ashoka Centre for Translation partners with Penguin Random House India to unveil ‘Chronicles’

‘Chronicles’ is a collaborative non-fiction translation series by the Ashoka Centre for Translation and Penguin Random House, supported by the Manju Deshbandhu Gupta Fellowship

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25 April, 2024 | 4m read

The Ashoka Centre for Translation, in collaboration with Penguin Random House, proudly announces the launch of Chronicles, a groundbreaking non-fiction translation series aimed at bringing creative-critical textual narratives from various Indian languages into English. Supported by the prestigious Manju Deshbandhu Gupta Fellowship, Chronicles seeks to serve as both an archive and a resource, offering readers a wide array of thoughts, ideas, histories, and life stories from across India. Releasing under Penguin’s Vintage imprint, the first of the books under the series is set to release in December 2024.

Through meticulously curated translations, the series aims to shed light on specific moments and movements from India’s past to the present, providing readers with a deeper understanding of the country’s rich heritage. The inaugural lineup of Chronicles features a diverse selection of works, each offering a unique perspective on Indian society, history, and culture. From memoirs and autobiographies to critical essays and biographies, the series promises to captivate readers with its wide-ranging exploration of the human experience.

Tamil: Ninaivu Alaigal by Dr. T.S.S. Rajan, translated by N. Kalyan Raman, is a sharply observed memoir chronicling a nuanced exploration of socio-political dynamics and personal evolution from the perspective of a progressive, reformist, nationalist, and politician.

Telugu: Yatra Smrithi by Dasarathi Krishnamacharya, translated by T. Vijay Kumar, is an autobiography capturing the poignant narrative of a poet and anti-Nizam rebel, offering a striking story of the making of Telangana’s history.

Kannada: Selected Essays of Kirtinath Kurtakoti, translated by Kamalakar Bhat, is a collection of critical essays providing insightful perspectives on arts, aesthetics, and literary practices in South Asian societies. 

Marathi: Raghnak: The Saga of Mahar Landlordism by Shekhar Govindrao Korde, translated by Prashant Ingole, unveils the extraordinary life of Raghunath Mahar, an illiterate member of the ‘untouchable’ caste who rose to prominence as the ‘Kuber of Vidarbha’.

Gujarati: Mari Hakikat by Narmadashankar Dave, translated by Abhijit Kothari, arguably the first autobiography in Gujarati by the prominent writer and social reformer, sheds light on the literary and social changes occurring in Gujarati society during the colonial encounter of the 19th century. 

Hindi: Nij Jivan Ki Chhata, the once-banned autobiography of Ram Prasad Bismil, translated by Awadhesh Tripathi, recounts the daring exploits of Bismil and his fellow revolutionaries and offers an affective glimpse into the trials and triumphs of India’s freedom struggle.

Assamese: Anandaram Dhekial Phukan’s Jivan Charitra by Gunabhiram Barua, translated by Banani Chakravarty, provides a biographical window into the process of Assamese modernity during British colonial rule.

Kannada: Bharatayatre by Lakshmisha Tolpadi, translated by Vanamala Viswanatha, winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award 2023 (Essays), is a thought-provoking examination of the Mahabharata in the contemporary context, illuminating moral complexities.

Bengali: Amar Katha by Binodini Dasi, translated by Arunava Sinha, is an original, convention-defying autobiography by the Bengali theatre actress popularly known as Nati Binodini. The book is a combination of two works: My Story and My Life in Acting

Malayalam: A Women’s History of Malayalam Theatre by Sajitha Madathil, translated by Jayasree Kalathil, traces a transformative narrative placing women firmly in Kerala’s theatre and public sphere, from folk theatre and performance arts to political activism. The book won the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award for best book in 2010.

Commenting on the upcoming books, Professor Arunava Sinha and Professor Rita Kothari, Co-Directors, Ashoka Centre for Translation, remark, ‘This series marks the beginning of a sustained effort to expand the readership for great books of non-fiction from India through translation.’ 

Adding to this, Manish Sabharwal, Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder, Teamlease, says, ‘The Manju Deshbandhu Gupta Fellowships aim to bring works from Indian languages into English through high-quality translations that unlock India’s treasures for the world.’

Elizabeth Kuruvilla, Associate Publisher, Vintage, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘While books in translation have been receiving enormous attention lately, this has been more prominently in the genre of fiction. It’s exciting to be able to bring to readers in English some of the most stimulating non-fiction writings that have been taking place in different Indian languages. The Ashoka Centre for Translation’s passionate work in the field is to be credited for the series Chronicles taking root, and I cannot thank them enough, and in particular the Manju Deshbandhu Gupta Fellowship, for supporting this invaluable series.’

Milee Ashwarya, Publisher, Adult Publishing Group, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Chronicles, a unique collaboration between the Ashoka Centre for Translation and Penguin Random House India, for translation of important non-fiction works will be a landmark series. I am proud of this initiative, and I look forward to publishing the books.’

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