ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Self-translating a multilingual text: The Case of Akla Saraogi’s Kalikatha Via Bypass


Rao Anandi - SOAS, University of London, London, United Kingdom


20 – Self-translation, translating the self: Multilingual writers in South Asia


 Kali-Katha: Via Bypass written in 1998 was the Hindi writer Alka Saraogi’s debut novel. The novel won the Shrikant Verma Award for the best novel by a young writer and the Sahitya Akademi Award, India’s highest literary award in 2001. The book was translated into English by the author in 2002 and was later translated into several European languages.The novel is set in Kolkata/Calcutta and traces the life of her protagonist Kishore Babu, a man in his seventies who has had a bypass operation on his heart. The operation triggers a change in his psyche and causes him to reflect on his life both pre- and post-independence in 1947. This change coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of India’s independence. Stylistically, the novel experiments with font, punctuation, narrative structure, and voice. The title of the novel itself reflects this experimentation in the way in which it foregrounds the multilingual nature of the text. . By using the English words ‘via bypass’ in the title, not only does Saraogi bring the code-mixing between Hindi and English that is so central to the novel to the fore, but she also suggests that this story cannot be told without the English addendum. Apart from this there are also some Bengali words in the text. By looking at the original and the author’s self-translation this paper explores the challenges and possibilities of translating a multilingual text to reveal ways of thinking about the the space an author as translation occupies in our imaginary.