Marathi playwright and author Makarand Sathe talks about the representation of regional language authors at literary fests and his latest three volume book bout the socio political history of Marathi theatre
Q. Is there an adequate representation of regional authors at this literary festival?
A: You have to be translated into English to be invited to JLF. I write only in Marathi so the first few years when my books were not translated, I was not invited. The main language here is English though they try their best to include regional language writers. The problem is that most regional language writers find it difficult to get translated into English. You not only need a good translator you need to get published too. I have done two reading sessions here. I read out from both the Marathi and English texts for ten minutes each, which is a great initiative. However, percentage wise the representation of regional writers is very less.
Q.Why is it difficult to get translated?
A: There are many factors. Cultural differences are vast. Many books can’t be translated. There is a dearth of good translators from Marathi to English. For good publishers to publish your work, the translation needs to be of a certain quality. The access to good publishers is difficult. You need agents. You need agents to get those agents as well. That is slowly changing. Earlier the audience in western countries was interested only in English writing. Now in Germany France and western Europe are realising that regional writing in India is at times better than English Indian writing and getting interested.
Q. Tell us about your new book.
A: My new book is called A Socio-Political History Of Marathi Theatre: Thirty Nights, in English and Marathi Natakachya Tees Ratri — Ek Samajik Rajkiya Itihas in English, is about how theatre encountered changes in society for 150 years, beginning from the first public performance of Seeta Swayamvar in 1843. It’s not in the form of a typical history book. A clown at the theatre tells the story to a young playwright who is trying trace his roots, over 30 nights. I don’t want the book to be restricted to libraries or historians. The first edition in Marathi has been sold out.
Q. Any advice for young regional writers?
A: For any good literature the writing should be for ones own expression. If you think of how it will sell, what does the audience want, who will buy it, while you are writing it then the quality of literature suffers.