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Not a Good Fit: On Translating Contemporary Telugu Literature

Madhu H. Kaza, Bard College Institute for Writing & Thinking
Monday, May 2, 2022 -
12:30pm to 1:30pm
Virtual Lecture - Conducted in English
Monday, May 2, 2022 -
12:30pm to 1:30pm

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Although Telugu is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world (and the fastest growing foreign language in the U.S. according to the BBC), a language with a rich classical poetic tradition as well as an active contemporary literature in the demotic, it is scarcely represented in translation in the U.S. Because Telugu is a vernacular rather than national language and because contemporary Telugu aesthetic concerns diverge greatly from the mainstream values of American literature, English translations of Telugu texts circulate primarily within India itself. In this talk I will discuss my work translating contemporary feminist Telugu writers, including its challenges, in order to raise questions about cultural difference, literary values and the place of vernacular literatures in the age of globalization.

Born in Andhra Pradesh, India, Madhu H. Kaza is a writer, translator, artist and educator based in New York City. A translator of contemporary Telugu women writers , her co-translation of a collection of Volga's fiction,Political Stories, was published in 2007 in India. Other translations and original writing have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Yale Review, Gulf Coast, Guernica, Waxwing, Chimurenga, The Encyclopedia Project, Two Lines and more. She is the guest curator of a feature on writing from less-translated languages for the Spring 2022 issue of Gulf Coast, and the editor of Kitchen Table Translation, a volume that explores the connections between migration and translation and which features immigrant, diasporic and poc translators. In 2021 she served as a juror for the National Book Award in translated literature. She works as the Associate Director for Microcollege Programs for the Bard Prison Initiative and also teaches in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Sponsored by
Program in Translation & Intercultural Communication and South Asian Studies