40. WAAT Session: Mithu Sanyal & Alta L. Price on Author-Translator Collaboration

The WAAT Sessions is a new series of video conversations about literary translation. In WAAT Session 01, the German author Mithu Sanyal and the literary translator, Alta L. Price discuss their author-translator collaboration process for Alta's English translation of Mithu's novel, Identitti.

34. On Foreignization and Domestication

Earlier this week, I read a book review where the reviewer applauded the translator's choices to domesticate certain cultural references in a recent book to ensure that English readers who were not from the source culture would still be able to get the humor. If you've been following me for a while, you know that, as a fiction writer myself, I'm not at all keen on watering down or hyping up cultural references in any kind of writing. That is to say, I'm not for sanitization to appease readers who may be unfamiliar with a particular culture and I'm not for exoticization to appeal to readers who love to see certain tired tropes and stereotypes in particular cultures (see my 2021 roundup of #mangodiscourse.) So, when I asked a question on Twitter about foreignization versus domestication, I knew it was a sensitive issue among fellow translators that would bring out a range of responses.

33. On the Translator’s Note or Introduction

Long before the idea of even becoming a literary translator professionally had occurred to me, my idea of what exactly being a literary translator meant came from reading the notes or introductions to translated novels. Looking back now, I see how much the good ones were like masterclasses in themselves. If you're a reader of translated works, you will likely have your own favorites. I'll share a handful of mine below but let's talk very briefly about why these matter at all.

30. Vincent van Gogh and the Art of Translation

Vincent van Gogh's translations of Millet's paintings were about a "profound and sincere admiration for Millet", to make Millet more accessible to the "ordinary general public", and to recognize how the Impressionist trends of his time were linked to past artistic traditions.

08. The Silences in Language That Translation Struggles to Capture

Last week, I interviewed the scholar, Ashoka University professor, writer, and translator, Rita Kothari, for Desi Books. It was a rich, enlightening discussion and not just because we translate from the same language (Gujarati.) I found her points about how we struggle to decode certain sociocultural and political issues through translation and how we're unable to capture what the silences mean to be most interesting. Have a listen.

07. Some Writing and Translating Wisdom From Social Media

As much of my literary translation published so far has involved works from the classic Gujarati canon, I get asked sometimes about some of the problematic social mores of earlier times. My response is that I generally avoid translating works that feel problematic to me. But, yes, we have to consider such works as representative of their time when gender, class, caste dynamics were different. In that sense, they're more like sociocultural and historical artifacts to me. That said, I also remind people that things aren't all good now. Even when we might have improved some of our sociopolitical attitudes and behaviors, our language hasn't always caught up.