Nearly 80 years after George Orwell’s Burmese Days first
hit bookshelves in 1934, it has won the highest literary award in the country
where it's set.
The Burmese Ministry of Information announced last week that the
unabridged Burmese translation of Orwell's novel was the winner of the 2012
National Literary Award’s informative literature (translation) category.
The translator, Maung Myint Kywe, told The Irrawaddy newspaper:
"I thought the Burmese should read it, and so I translated it." He considers Burmese
Days a scathing portrait of both the British and the Burmese. He said
his intention in translating the book was partially to inform young people
about how the Burmese were discriminated against under British rule: "But
Orwell is unbiased, even though he himself is British. He has fairly portrayed
how bad the British were, as well as we Burmese, too."
Htay Maung, the chairman of the judges, said Burmese Days was
the unanimous choice of his 10-member panel: "We all believed that,
contrary to other books on Burma by the British, the novel is quite balanced.
Plus, the Burmese translation style is OK and conveys the meaning of the writer
According to The Irrawaddy, translations of both Burmese
Days and Nineteen Eighty-Four were last available in
Burma in the 1960s, but then all editions were pulped - criticism of the
Burmese in Burmese Days and the satirical view of dictatorship
in Nineteen Eighty-Four would not have made it past the former
regime’s censors. But after the easing of literary censorship last
year the Law Ka Thit publishing house published
translations of both. Win Tin, publisher at Law Ka Thit, told The Irrawaddy: “I wanted to publish
those books for a long time. I feel glad one of the books I’ve published has
won the highest prize in the country, but I’m wondering: what’s wrong
with Nineteen Eighty-Four?"
The Golden Point Award
Singapore has four major languages, English, Chinese, Malay and
Tamil. The Golden Point Award is the country's premier creative
writing competition for short stories and poetry; winners in each category are
announced in each of the four languages. Organised by Singapore's National Arts Council,
the biennial competition aims to promote new creative writing and to nurture
local literary talent by providing the opportunity for unpublished writers to
be evaluated by a professional jury. Winners of the 2013 prizes were announced
earlier this month, and the winning stories and poems in each language can be
Finn Writing About Mongolia
It's probably not often you find Finns writing in Finnish about
Mongolia, but Rosa Liksom’s Hytti Nro. 6 translated by Lola
Rogers, and published by UK-based Serpent’s Tail as Compartment No. 6, has
just won a Writers in Translation award from English PEN.
According to the blurb, Compartment No. 6 concerns ayoung
woman fleeing a broken relationship, who boards a train in Moscow, bound for
Mongolia. She chooses an empty compartment – no. 6. But her solitude is
soon shattered by the arrival of Vadim Nikolayevich Ivanov, a grizzled,
opinionated, and foul-mouthed ex-soldier. As their train cuts slowly across a
wintry Russia, towards Mongolia, a grudging kind of companionship grows between
the two passengers, and the girl realises that if she works out how to listen,
Vadim's stories might just contain lessons for her.
Translation in Korea
The Korea Times reports disappointment in
the 2013 Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards, which received only 23
entries,10 of them poetry, although: "it is generally agreed that it is
far more difficult to translate a few lines of poetry adequately than the many
pages of a work of fiction." As to the fiction, the paper reported that
the translations were adequate, but the judges did not read many with pleasure:
"That was in part the fault of the translator who failed to create a
convincing English style, and in part the fault of the author whose work did
not lend itself to translation." Somewhat grudgingly, it seems, the judges
awarded the Grand Prize to the translator of Jeong Chan's novel A
Report to an Academy. The Korea Times does not name this
translator, and I could not discover his or her identity on-line, but
apparently he or she produced a translation that: "reads so well that one
can easily forget that it is a translation."