This article traces the role Dhaka Lit Fest has played in giving a solid boost to quality English translation of Bangla literature
Dhaka Lit Fest, no doubt, was conceived of with the increasing need for articulation felt by the country’s English writers, thus becoming the strongest platform for showcasing their works. It has also given, side by side, a solid boost to the steady growth of the body of Bangla fiction translated into English. Since the very beginning in 2011, translated work of Bangla fiction has been one of its main features.
University Press Limited, Bangla Academy and Bengal Lights, the last being a comparatively recent initiative, are known for bringing out quality translations of Bangla literature. The DLF has become the yearly platform either for launching or featuring their new translations, attracting a crowd composed of readers as well as publishers of international renown.
One of the main attractions on this front this year is An Ocean of Sorrow, an English translation of Mir Mosharraf Hossain’s Bishad Sindhu, which will be featured in one of the panels on translation.
Last year UPL published a translated collection of Nasreen Jahan’s short stories, A Temporary Sojourn and Other Stories. This year they are set to launch several works of fiction but no translation.
Bengal Lights will hit the festival with four new books of translation. Under the Library of Bangladesh series it will launch two translated novels: Rizia Rahman’s Rokter Akshar, and Moinul Ahsan Saber’s The Mercenary; a collection of poems by selected Bangladeshi poets in Khademul Islam’s translation, On My birthday and Other Poems in Translation; and The Book of Dhaka, a collection of short stories by selected Bangladeshi prose writers.
Edited by Arunava Sinha and QP Alam, The Book of Dhaka will be co-published with Coma Press, UK — an instance of healthy collaboration in publication.
Dhaka translation Centre, a wing of BL, has also published two English collections of short stories by Hasan Azizul Haque: Three Stories and Twelve Short Stories ; a book containing translations of Syed Shamsul Haq’s Neel Dangshan (Blue Venom) and Nishidha Loban (The Forbidden Incense); and a compilation of translated stories by selected Bangladeshi prose writers.
This is by no means an adequate look at the body of Bangla fiction in translation and is confined to a few past years. But even this cursory look suffices to show the growth is steady and the future is bleak no more.
No doubt the DLF has been integral to this steady growth.