Voice of the fair sex

Published: 04th January 2013 11:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2013 11:47 AM   |  A+A-


The Malayalam literary sphere has always tagged the writings of Sarah Joseph as woman-centric.

 Most of her works depict the struggle of the fairer sex against the diverse institutions (be it religion or marriage) that bind them in our patriarchal society.

 ‘The Masculine of Virgin’, the translated collection of short stories of Sarah Joseph, has reinstated her stead as the voice of woman writing (pennezhuthu) in Malayalam literature.

 Though her works have been translated into several languages before, it is for the first time that her short stories are being published in English.

 The Masculine of Virgin has been brought out by the Oxford University Press (OUP).

 The 21 selected short stories in the collection, written in the late 1980s and after, aim to trace the gradual and steady emergence of Sarah Joseph as a powerful feminist writer.

 The much-in-demand book has helped bring the works of Sarah Joseph into the midstream of the Indian literature through its powerful representation of maternal figures existing on the sidelines of society.

 Sarah Joseph credits the success of her book to its translator J Devika, who, according to her “has experimented with words that amazingly retained the original flavour of the stories”.

 And, she adds that a writer should give the freedom to the translator to experiment.

 “It is the rare but winning combo of a creative and talented writer-translator-editor that makes a book a hit.

 A translator should be well-versed in the target language,” says Sarah Joseph who adds that she was “amazed at the skill of OUP editor-translations Mini Krishnan whose lexicon contributed immensely to the work”.

 “The work has retained the feel of the original.

 This is no mean feat as the dialect in my stories are hard to comprehend,” says Sarah Joseph who believes that it is the translated works of regional writers that ought to be called the original English-Indian writing as they are the ones which carry the diversity and depth of India.

 Sarah Joseph’s stories are known for their titles which often are a window to her stories.

 Expectedly J Devika had, in the translator’s note, said how challenging it was for her to translate the titles.

 “I coin words that convey the heaviness of my stories.

 Sometimes, I construct words.

 When writing about a sinful custom of killing female children, I used the word ‘Paapathara’.

 Likewise I used ‘Chaavunilam’ to speak about a land where people kill in the name of religion,” says Sarah Joseph.

 The writer, whose new work “Aalohari Anandam” will soon be translated into English, feels a positive and encouraging vibe in the scope and space of translation as a branch of literature.

 Though she agrees that her writings are a challenge for a translator, Sarah Joseph believes in using the local dialects as her effort is to depict and portray the lives in a truthful manner.

 On being dubbed a ‘feminist writer’, Sarah Joseph says her works reflect her confusion and anxiety about the state of women who are caught between the moral code that binds them at home and the overt sexual depiction of the gender in media.

 “My portrayal of the sidelined women converts into my opposition to the patriarchal system in our society,” says Sarah Joseph.


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