New Delhi: Widening its reach, Jnanpith Award winner Amitav Ghosh's masterful novel, "Gun Island", which seamlessly brings together a man's self-discovery, the fading folklore of the Sundarbans and the most pressing malaises of our times will now be available in its Hindi, Marathi and Malayalam translations, enabling writers to cross the linguistic barriers they were born into.
"It is a matter of the greatest pleasure and pride for me that 'Gun Island' is appearing in Hindi, Marathi and Malayalam. India is a richly multilingual country, where every language, including English, has absorbed a wide range of influences. Translations therefore play a very important role in Indian literary life," Ghosh said.
"Through translations it sometimes happens that a writer can cross linguistic boundaries and become a homegrown writer in literary cultures other than those that they were born into. I was living in Kerala in 1983, when I started writing my first novel.
"I was delighted to discover then that many Keralans thought of Sarat Chandra as a writer who had written in Malayalam. I have since discovered that this is true also of many people who read Saratbabu in Hindi and Marathi. This is, I think, the greatest tribute that can be paid to a writer," he added.
He also thanked the translators, Maneesha Taneja, Ashlesha Gore and K. T. Radhakrishnan "for the painstaking work they have put in", saying the translations "are all of the highest quality".
"Adeptly connecting a forgotten folktale of Bengal with present-day events whose reverberations can be felt across continents, this riveting tale is sure to appeal to a wide spectrum of readers, no matter which language they read it in," Minakshi Thakur, Publisher, Eka, an imprint of Westland Publications, said.
"Bundook" or Gun is a common word, but one which turns Deen Datta's world upside down. A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way.
There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen's eyes to the realities of growing up in today's world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey which will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood and about the world around him.
"Gun Island" is a beautifully realised novel which effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford and published the first of eight novels, "The Circle of Reason", in 1986. The first novel in his Ibis trilogy, "Sea of Poppies", was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.