Why Vivek Shanbhag’s Kannada novel ‘Ondu Badi Kadalu’ must be translated into other languages
Some books are intuitive and prescient. They have a way of catching our eye, snuggling into our hands, traveling with us across distances, staying up late with us in bed. Some books find us when we need them the most.
Vivek Shanbhag’s Kannada novel, Ondu Badi Kadalu (One Side The Sea, 2007) has been such a companion to me in recent weeks. Reading an entire novel in Kannada posed a formidable proposition even though I can speak, read and write the language with fair proficiency. My childhood was a splintering between languages as often transpires with children whose parents’ job(s) takes them across state (linguistic) borders within India. We spoke Konkani at home but no printed literature in Konkani had come my way when I first discovered books (in English), and Kannada was still an unknown entity to me.
Kannada made an emphatic entrance in my life when I was telescoped all the way from the alphabet to the start of a fourth grade text book on account of my father’s untimely job transfer from Panjim to Bangalore. I was eight years old, sent ahead to stay with family friends for a few weeks, my first time without parents, deeply absorbing the weight of unfamiliarity. Something of that...
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