Monday, March 02, 2009

Spring Thunder

This man makes me want to learn Malayalam just so i can read him in the original. Agreed, he himself has translated most of his work into English, but knowing as i do the ‘lost in translation’ business that has happened with some of the books in Kannada that i have read in English also, it would be fair to assume that the same has happened with OV Vijayan’s books. As OV (do i dare call them this?) himself said, “...translation is an act of shifting eggs from one nest to another. In the process the yolk and white are separated, and what you have left with is broken shells.” And this from a man who translated his own work into some fabulous English. Who better then?

The reason for this post? After The Hanging and Other Stories by OV Vijayan. Finished it over the course of a packed weekend. From the surreal to the heartbreaking, from allegories to little seeds of thoughts, it was more than just a good read. A good read ensures you enjoy the good while you are reading it. Not after the last page has been turned. A classic like this sticks with you, much after you have finished reading it. It happened with me with Khasakkinte Itihasam, then with Dharmapuranam, and now with After the Hanging...the search is on now for Gurusagaram. If any of you reading this blog regularly (five at the last count) happen to chance upon it, let me know ASAP!

OV Vijayan. This man now firmly occupies the #2 spot in my personal list of ‘Best Indian Writers in English’. If only by virtue of having translated his books himself, and even with that he is leagues ahead of those just out to prove that their vocabulary is as good, if not better than the whites themselves (or that they have a good dictionary/thesaurus). Most are just writing about things we all know and are part of us – making the banal and the commonplace – seem exotic for the white man’s consumption, and the confused rootless generation of today. Not so Vijayan. He wrote, yes, about things here and now and of what could be....but ever in a way so as to give us from here a new perspective, a new way of looking and of thought. Not just through his novels and stories. As an acerbic and unforgiving cartoonist, OV also occupies the #2 spot in my ‘Best Indian Cartoonists’ list.

PS: The #1 spot in the list of ‘Best Indian Writers in English’ was, is and will always be RK Narayan with his ‘Common Man’ brother the #1Indian cartoonist.

PPS: A quick flash back to this, a previous post concerning OV


Anonymous said...

Hmm..... haven't heard of him... I have had a similar experience in only two books and am yet to do that.... one is Poetics of space - Jason Bachelard.
The little prince -Antoine St. Exupery...

But do have to note that i have always had a infatuation towards anything and everything might just be a bias .. :D

Shenoy said...

biased bugger!! i put that down to eating too many Freedom Fries :-)

me haven't read Poetics of...but the Little Prince was a nice read, think i will stick to the English here.

Being a person who appreciates the surreal/absurd you should read the stories under the section called 'Allegories of Power' especially 'The Wart' in After the Hanging. Have a feeling you will like it.

Shenoy said...

ADDENDUM: I stand corrected. Post discussions with Jubin 'Paradox Paradise' George, i do hereby state i have NOT read Khasakkinthey Itihasam (but Legends of Khasak, as they are not the same as stated in the previous OV post). And NEITHER have i read Dhamapuranam. What i HAVE READ though is Saga of Dharmapuri.