Translator Reem Daoud: Indian literature is not worth it and does not need awards like “Booker”

Tomb of Sand .. The first Indian novel to win the International Booker Prize for translated literature, and as usual literary awards, especially international ones, push publishers to seek intellectual property rights to translate the winning novel into their native language. their readers. .

In this context, “The Seventh Day” spoke with the Omani translator, living in Egypt, Reem Daoud, who had previously translated into Arabic many works of Hindu literature, which had been published by Dar Al Arabi Publishing, in Cairo, and in this dialogue, she revealed Reem Daoud

The novel “Sand Tomb” won the International Booker Prize for the translated novel. What does it represent for Indian literature locally and globally?

He can expand the translation movement and can contribute to his translation into languages ​​he has not previously translated. That’s it, in my opinion. Indian literature is really rich and valuable, both in novels and stories as well as in poetry. I do not think it is the prices that will add value. A writer like RK Narayan, for example, has his own worlds, like the fictional city of “Maljud” about which he wrote, its inhabitants and the life situations they go through, and put it on the front page of his series of deeds. Would you give him any prizes? Value added? I do not think so.

Perhaps the award will attract the attention of those who are not interested in Indian literature for its distinction and will push them to seek the “sand grave” or something else, to get to know it more closely.


Translations by Reem Daoud published by Dar Al Arabi Publishing

India is known for its multilingualism, is this multilingualism a crisis for translators?

– India has 22 official languages, including: Malayalam, Tamil, Urdu, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Hindi and Marathi. But this does not pose a barrier for translators of other languages, because many literary works are written in the original English, e.g. the works of “Jumpa Lahiri” and “Ruppa Bajwa” and “Raskin Pond”, or is an excellent and completely correct English translation, as happened in “The Sand Cemetery”, where judges and critics praised the translation of Daisy Rockwell, who was jointly rewarded. with author “Gitanjali Shri”. There are authors who have translated their own works, such as the late writer Shams al-Din Farooqi, who wrote in Urdu. He is the one who translated his novel “Mirror of Beauty” from Urdu to English.

Do you think that Indian literature in the Arab world is given what it deserves in terms of study?

– I do not think that Indian literature gets what it deserves in Arab countries in general. It is very rich literature, as I said before, and deserves attention to be translated and read. I have had the pleasure of translating more than one novel and short story, from different writers, and I have had the pleasure of doing so much, every time. I read works that I wanted to translate, but unfortunately I did not find enthusiasm from the publishers. I think that now the focus is on the works of Latin America, which is certainly deserved, but which should not be taken only at the expense of literary publications from other countries, Asian and African.

The relationship between Egyptian and Indian readers .. How do you see it?

– I can not talk about the relationship between the Egyptian and Indian readers, because I do not think that the translation movement between the two countries allows the reader to have sufficient knowledge of the literary production of the two countries; But I will speak personally, to say that I have visited India several times, and every time I have gone to different regions and states, I have traveled among most of them by land, which has allowed me to deal with people, to look closely at different aspects of life, and visit mosques, churches, temples, popular markets, libraries, restaurants and shops. The old ones who still deal with the method and payment “bon” on the one hand, and then receive purchases on the other, as was the case in the public sector. shops here .. I can say that the differences in the nature of life and the nature of human beings between India and Egypt are very small.

Translated by Reem Daoud
Translated by Reem Daoud

The fame of Indian films .. Do you benefit or harm the Indian novel?

In recent years there have been good and serious cinematic works based on literary works, including Indian works by RK Narayan, Ruskin Pond, Amrita Pritam and international works (especially Shakespeare plays). I do not think light commercial films affect the true reader. I think it treats it in the right context, which is fun. There are authors who combine the writing of the novel with the writing of film and television, such as Abdullah Khan, the author of Patna’s Blues, which was translated into his Arabic version in “Indian Things.”

Who are the most famous old and young writers who deserve to be known to the Arab reader?

Personally I really like the works of RK Narayan. He is my favorite and in my opinion all his works deserve to be known to the Arab reader. I also like the writings of the writer and plastic artist “Bulbul Sharma”, and I find them extraordinary. I also like the novels Chitra Devakaruni, Anita Nair and Xhumpa Lahiri.

The Tomb of the Sand won the International Booker Prize 2022
The Tomb of the Sand won the International Booker Prize 2022

If we want to limit the issues of Indian literature, what are the most salient ones?

In relatively old works, or retrospectives, there is always in the background the theme of patriotism, the separation of Pakistan from India and the violent and bloody events that have accompanied it, though unnoticed, in the background. The pursuit of freedom, freedom from social controls and laws. The war between village and town. Currently, there is more interest in the conflict between Eastern and Western values. Some of the works dealt with romantic relationships between people of different classes or religions and same-sex relationships.

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