Final Day Of Tata Steel Bhubaneswar Literary Meet: ‘Oblivion’ & The Magic Of Gopinath Mohanty’s Stories

Bhubaneswar: Jnanpith Award winner Gopinath Mohanty was aptly introduced on the last day of the seventh edition of Tata Steel Bhubaneswar Literary Meet.

“There are a great number of people who are familiar with the author Gopinath Mohanty… nevertheless, they are unaware of the astounding amount of wonderful short stories that he penned,” said Sudeshna Mohanty.

A colossus in Odia literature for over four decades, Gopinath – who passed away in 1991 at the age of 77 — has been hailed as one of the greatest prose writers in India. He wrote 150 short stories, of which 15 have been translated into different languages many times over, while several others are underrated.

Sudeshna and Sudhansu Mohanty participated in a discussion with Pratiti Ganatra on their book titled ‘Oblivion and Other Stories’, which contains 20 of the late Gopinath’s stories which have been translated into English.

The topic of discussion was the magic of Gopinath’s stories.

“In Oblivion, we have selected stories of him that have not been translated by anyone else and are worthy of being read by a more diverse audience,” Sudeshna explained why these 20 stories by Gopinath were selected.

The local flavour of the stories was maintained in the book while translating the signature prose style of Gopinath — lively and robust, with words chosen skilfully from people’s everyday speech and combined to communicate ethereal thoughts and delicate emotions.

“These tales were penned much before 1950. As we began the translation, we worked hard to maintain as much of the original’s lyrical prose… We played around with different terms, and wherever possible, we tried to incorporate contemporary terminology into the narratives like names of festivals and seasons, interjections like Maa lo, Ki lo, Hau,” said Sudeshna.

Sudhansu said why he agreed to work on ‘Oblivion’.

“One of the reasons I left translations was that I didn’t find a creative space and felt that it shrinks creative spaces… I became asphyxiated and dropped a book that was doing very well in 1998. However, I agreed to work on Oblivion because of Sudeshna’s commitment and humility,” Sudhansu stated.

“Oblivion is a lovely 1941 story that’s still relevant today. My mother was around when I started translating, and this was the last story we completed together, so I suggested keeping it as the book’s title,” said Sudeshna.

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