BLGG has taken the challenge of bringing the wealth of Bengali literature to the global readers. To that end, a dedicated team of volunteers are translating a number of well-known Bengali short stories into English. The three translators, Dr Gouri Datta (Boston), Dr Ranjan Mukherjee (Philadelphia) and Dr Haimanti Dorai (San Francisco) were present for BLGG's first reading road show in Houston. A pleasant literary evening dedicated to reading excerpts of these stories took place on 6th August in Houston, Texas at the lovely home of Mrinal Chaudhuri. A large number of enthusiasts and lovers of literature from India and the US attended.
After a brief introduction of BLGG, by Partha Sarathi Chatterjee of Houston, the evening program was inaugurated with a few songs by two talented singers Shyama Mishra and Sangeeta.
The main presentation started with a brief discussion on the 'hows' and 'whys' of translation. Bengali short stories were shaped during the era of Rabindranath and honestly speaking, short stories in Bengali reached its apex under Rabindranath Tagore who left his unmistakable stamp on the genre. In the context of a translation for the global readers, it was noted, both skill and creativity of the translator are needed for a good translation. In addition to a full understanding the original story, complete mastery of the language and the ability to tell the story simply and attractively in the translated language is essential. There should be an effortless integration of relevance, ethnicity and universality. The ability to properly express an alien word or phrase so that the thought behind it is seamlessly integrated into the story, these are the essentials of the art of translation. Therefore, a proper translation is not the mere translation of words, but, in effect, a new creation; trans-creation. Houston's local Meetup group's members (Short story and more), Helen Cohen and Bob Graziano were present and shared their candid comments.
This was followed by the reading of excerpts of selected translations. Gouri Datta read from Rabindranath's Kabuliwallah and from Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay's Abar Dekha Hobe (We will meet again). Ranjan Mukherjee then read Dadathakur's Daridrer Aischarjya (Wealth of the Poor), Ullash Mallick's Appayan (Reception) and Narayan Gangopadhyay's Tope (The Lure).
Last, but not least, Haimanti Dorai read excerpts from Samaresh Bose's Adab (Adab), Satinath Bhaduri's ChokaChoki (The Lovebirds) and Selina Hossain's Aranyakusum (Wild flowers).
Mrinal Chaudhuri closed the reading part of the evening session with a note of heartfelt thanks to all the attendees and guests.
The literary activities were followed by a spirited discussion which worked up a healthy appetite. There was a wonderful Indian dinner by Rakhee's signature dishes.
The evening activities were brought to closure by a mesmerizing violin and tabla performance by Raja Banga and Biplab Sammadar.
It was a memorable evening and a grand success of BLGG effort. Click for event pictures.