31 October, 2020

The Lonely Art Of Hanging

A Malayalam novel set in Calcutta looks at family history, the role of women and tortured relationships

The Lonely Art Of Hanging

How does one review a translation? Is the reviewer to examine the expanse of the writer’s imagination or the dexterity of the translator’s craft? And, if the original work is written in a language the reviewer is familiar with, does she judge how the translator has handled the cadences of the language, the grammar and idiom of the land and how much is compromised in an attempt to simplify complexities? But here was a peculiar situation: while the novel is written in Malayalam, it is set in Calcutta and is about a Bengali family. Malayalam has really no role to play at all.

Reviewing this translation, I realised it wasn’t going to be easy and hence I decided to shed my reviewer’s cloak. I would read as a reader should with eyes wide open rather than the narrowed gaze of the reviewer’s. And that perhaps is the only way to read K.R. Meera’s Hangwoman, brilliantly and seamlessly translated by J. Devika.

The novel begins with the rejection of the mercy petition sent by Jatindranath Banerjee to stay his death sentence....



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