Translations of Konkani Literature and Readership
Goan writers are hoping an anthology of short fiction stories, including what is considered to be the first modern short story in Konkani penned by Shenoi Goembab in the 1930s, and other insightful works translated into Hindi will open a window for Konkani literature to other Indian languages and afford readers a peep into the state’s cultural and social life.
“Konkani works translated in other languages or other literature translated into Konkani have been few and far between, and we hope this work will act as a window into the past reality of Goan life as well as a bridge to language and literature in other Indian languages through Hindi,” says Kiran Budkuley, a critic in Konkani and English. Konkani literature is trying to finds its feet at national level. Concedes Pundalik Naik, a reputed playwright and winner of an Australian award, “Whatever literature we have produced has largely remained insulated, and we have been hardly aware where we stand in terms of our standard with other Indian languages.”
“Translation of Konkani works into other languages, a passport to larger readerships at the national level, is happening now, albeit slowly. Earlier, only poems were being translated, but now short stories and dramas are also being translated,” he adds. Three novels and a few anthologies of poems and short stories have been translated into English, French, Portuguese and Indian languages, but writers hope the release of ‘Katha Darpan’ on Tuesday, which includes Goembab’s fiction ‘Mhoji Baa khoim gelea’ (Where is my wife?) will be a turning point.
Budkuley explains further, “This collection has a feel of Konkani culture and literature. The themes are still relevant today and hover around Goan history, culture, freedom struggle, social stratification and issues of the downtrodden as well as an insight into the cross section of native experience.” Conceding that the work will be critically assessed, whether “good or not-sogood”, Budkuley said, “We hope it may inspire others and also draw healthy criticism towards Konkani literature.”
The works range from Laxmanrao Sardesai’s ‘Gitul’, Shantaram Hede’s ‘Ghanti’ and Chandrakant Keni’s ‘Ahilya’ to Uday Bhembre’s ‘Gotlu’ and Olivinho Gomes’ ‘Bhav Vibhor’. Some of these writers had grown up reading up on other literature, including Portuguese and other foreign languages. “The selection has some of the best stories and hopefully they will get a bigger readership,” says A K Lotlikar, programme officer, Institute Menezes Braganza.
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