Night by Sulochana Manandhar (tr. Muna Gurung)

Cover of Night - part of the Translating Feminisms series

a nutshell: first jotted in the lap of night, this Nepali poetry collection is a sublime expression of the collaborative power & beauty that can emerge from women translating women in Asia’s literary landscape

a (few) line(s): “Night is an expectant mother | If you are doubtful, just wait; | early tomorrow morning | it will give birth to the sun” *

an image: in the exquisite opening to the poem ‘Sieve’, we watch as the poet pours scattered pieces of her heart on night’s sieve and begin to sift

a thought: I was moved by so many of these poems, but one that’ll stay with me for some time is ‘Property’, in which night is portrayed as the land in which the poet feels free – where she no longer fears subjugation

a fact: to method-translate parts of this collection, Gurung set alarms for various odd hours of the night (which goes some way towards illustrating the devotion that she so clearly feels for Manandhar’s writing)

want to read Night? visit here

* in the Translator’s Note, Gurung mentions how Sulo refers to night as ‘ ऊ ‘ – the gender non-specific third person pronoun in the Nepali language

Translating Feminisms is an initiative to showcase intimate collaborations and conversations between some of Asia’s most exciting women writers and emerging-star translators.

Days in the Caucasus by Banine (tr. Anne Thompson-Ahmadova)

a nutshell: this is the captivating memoir of Banine, born in one of Baku’s multimillionaire oil-rich families in 1905, who shares how she came of age in a time of immense sociopolitical turbulence

a line: “Who can tell the importance of dreaming? And of reading!”

an image: I loved Banine’s halcyon memories of the countryside, and of the family’s travels by carriage through the heart of the oil district – surrounded by derricks & cisterns – bathed in the smell of oil that delighted her nostrils

a thought: some of their childhood ‘games’ seriously unsettled me, particularly in Banine’s cousins’ abject hostility towards both women & Armenians from a young age (I know it was more than a century ago, but still I found some of her revelations horrifying)

a fact: I was curious about Banine’s description of New Year being celebrated on 21 March in Azerbaijan to coincide with the first day of spring – it seems more meaningful than the mid-winter one we celebrate in the UK!

want to read Days in the Caucasus? visit here