Words Without Borders: Gujarati Literature in Translation (guest-edited)

It is my honor to guest-edit the first-ever Gujarati literature in translation feature at Words Without Borders. Prior to this, they had featured one other South Asian language in a similar manner: Tamil (guest-edited by the late, great Lakshmi Holmström.) My huge gratitude to the Editor-in-Chief, Eric Becker, for this opportunity to showcase Gujarati literature, authors, and translators. I’m collecting all the features below as they’re being published. Please check in weekly during these two months or catch up on the Words Without Borders website.

Varsha Adalja is one of the foremost contemporary Gujarati writers in India. A novelist and a playwright, she has published forty books, including twenty novels and seven story collections. Some of her works have been adapted for television and stage. She has also written several essay collections and travelogues. Her works have won many literary awards. Crossroad, her most recent novel, was published in 2016 and is being translated into English by Jenny Bhatt. It is a magnum opus historical novel spanning three generations and five decades.

Translator: Jenny Bhatt (details here.)

Jayesh Jeevibahen Solanki was a poet, theater artist, and Dalit rights activist. He was one of the prominent faces associated with the Una Dalit Movement in Gujarat, India. Coming from very modest means, he had tried to make a living by teaching theater workshops and doing factory work. The pandemic worsened his financial struggles and, given his ongoing depression, he committed suicide in October 2020. Several of his poems have been translated by both professional translators and friends. A collection, titled વળાંક (A Bend in the Road), was published posthumously in December 2020.

Translator: Gopika Jadeja is a bilingual poet and translator writing in English and Gujarati. She is the Editor-at-Large (Singapore) for Wasafiri, an editor at PR&TA, and an editor for the performance-publishing project “Five Issues.” A recipient of the Charles Wallace Scholarship for Creative Writing, Gopika’s poetry and translations have been published in many international venues.

Hasmukh Shah had an extraordinary life and career in government, the public sector, and as a private citizen. He was joint secretary for three consecutive prime minister’s offices, was involved with multiple conservation and higher learning institutions and organizations, and personally witnessed several historical events—from being in the Prime Minister’s plane that crashed in Jorhat in 1978 to the Tiananmen Square protests and more—which he captured in his Gujarati memoir, Dithu Mai…. The English edition of From the Margins of History is forthcoming.

Translator: Mira Desai is a translator from Gujarati, currently working on her eighth book. Her translations have been published in Indian LiteratureWords without Borders91st MeridianThe Massachusetts Review, etc. She previously spent a lifetime in pharmaceuticals. She now volunteers with underprivileged children, paints, and travels.

Bharat Trivedi is an Indian-born poet, author, essayist, and lecturer. He has poetry, prose, and essays published in numerous literary magazines and journals in India and on creative poetry boards in the US. He has published five novels and ten collections of poems; including Love Poems to the Tigress, his first collection of poems written for an English-reading audience. He was raised and educated in India and migrated to the United States in 1977. Bharat lives in Tavares, Florida, with his wife Medha.

Translator: Mira Desai is a translator from Gujarati, currently working on her eighth book. Her translations have been published in Indian LiteratureWords without Borders91st MeridianThe Massachusetts Review, etc. She previously spent a lifetime in pharmaceuticals. She now volunteers with underprivileged children, paints, and travels.