Lately, environmentalism and books on the environment have become mainstream. Popular authors such as Amitav Ghosh, Ramachandra Guha, and Madhav Gadgil have immensely contributed to it with their impactful writings. Moreover, literary festivals feature panel discussions on conservation and the environment each year.
But not many are aware that India has a rich history of regional literature on the environment. The Chipko Movement, the Silent Valley Protests, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan have greatly contributed to it. There have been writers and poets including Sambalpuri poet and writer Haldhar Nag, Kannada poet Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre, and Malayali poet and activist Sugathakumari. Unfortunately, most of them have remained relatively obscure. The books are limited to the original language and rarely translated.
All through the last quarter, I have shared recommendations for books on the environment through Blogchatter’s #CauseAChatter Environment Talks series. I am continuing the series this quarter since there are so many books still out there waiting to be discussed.
During my research, I came across numerous books that were either limited to the language they were originally published in or are out of print. Very few of them are available in English. I do wish we have better access to these gems. Today I share recommendations on a few pieces of translated literature that are a must-read.
Dweepa: Island by Na D’Souza,
Susheela Punitha (Translator)
Buy at Oxford University Press | Add to Goodreads
Countless villages submerged. Loss of lifestyle. Loss of community. The dark side of development that is often considered collateral damage. Dweepa by N.A. D’Souza is a short fiction of about 130 pages about the displacement of farmers due to the construction of a hydroelectric project.
First published in a weekly in 1970 and then translated from Kannada by Susheela Punitha, the novella focuses on the construction of the Linganamakki dam on River Sharavathi in Malnad region. The government apathy, the greedy officials, and above all, the after-effects.
The Book of the Hunter (Byadhkhanda) by Mahasweta Devi,
Mandira Sengupta (Translator), Sagaree Sengupta (Translator)
Buy at Seagull Books | Add to Goodreads
Writer and activist Mahasweta Devi’s writings have always been the voice of the voiceless. Set in sixteenth-century medieval Bengal and drawing on the life of the great medieval poet Kabikankan Mukundaram Chakrabarti, the Book of the Hunter not only depicts the socio-political history of the times. But also the impact of settlements and clearing of forests on the tribals. Particularly the local hunter tribes, the Shabars.
Published in the early 90s in Bengali, the book borrows its name from Byadhkhanda — the Book of the Hunter, a section from the epic poem Abhayamanga by Mukundaram. It follows the contrasting lives of two couples – a Brahman and a Shabar. The book is a stark look at the effect of unethical and unchecked urbanization on indigenous communities.India & The Environment: Must-Read Translated Literature #CauseAChatter #EnvironmentalTalks #BookChatter @blogchatter #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
Softly Dies a Lake (Kolleti Jaadalu)
by Akkineni Kutumbarao, Vasanth Kannabiran (Translator)
Buy on Amazon | Add to Goodreads
The story of a lake. The story of people whose lives are connected to it. And true to its name, a story of commercialization and how greed is continuing to destroy the delicate balance between humans and nature.
Narrated through the eyes of a five-year-old Seenu, Softly Dies a Lake (Kolleti Jaadalu) by Akkineni Kutumbarao brings to life the trials and tribulations of villagers whose lives are woven inseparably with Kolleru, one of India’s largest freshwater lakes located in Andhra Pradesh. Veteran feminist rights activist and writer, Vasanth Kannabiran has translated this brutally honest book from Telugu seamlessly.
The Upheaval (Acchev) by Pundalik N. Naik
Vidya Pai (Translator)
Buy at Oxford University Press | Add to Goodreads
It is pretty evident that industrialization ends up stripping the land of its precious flora and fauna. More so in the case of mining. On top of that, the indigenous culture is severely impacted as the mode of occupation changes.
Set in Ponda district in north Goa, The Upheaval (Acchev) by Pundalik N. Naik details how iron ore mining contaminated the Mandovi and the village Kolamba. Published in 1977, it is the first novel in Konkani to be translated into English.
I hope my recommendations help you on the journey of environmental awareness. Stay tuned as I would be sharing more recommendations on a range of topics under Environmental Talks. Do you have a recommendation for similar books? I would love to check them out. Do share in the comments below.India & The Environment: Must-Read Translated Literature #CauseAChatter @CindyAnnDSilva @nooranand @Voxboxclub @journey_matters #BlogaberryDazzle #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with VoxBox and Journey Matters.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a very small percentage of the sale at no cost to you.
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October 28, 2021 @ 8:30 pm
Thanks for introducing me to these books, I had not heard of them
October 29, 2021 @ 8:04 pm
A wonderful set of books. It’s good you drew our attention to them.
October 30, 2021 @ 6:16 pm
These must be wonderful books on the environment. Language bars us from exploring many authors, thanks for sharing these gems:)
October 30, 2021 @ 7:05 pm
If these are available in English translation it will reach more people , nice post : )
October 30, 2021 @ 7:36 pm
Amazingly compiled list of books. Thanks for sharing this informative post.
October 30, 2021 @ 8:16 pm
Kudos to these writers who are writing on a topic we all need to take seriously. Thank you, Ritu for shining light on them through your wonderful and detailed reviews.
October 30, 2021 @ 9:07 pm
These books sound great. I am always overwhelmed by the range of your reading. Wish you read more and more.
October 30, 2021 @ 11:07 pm
Thanks for showing me a basket of environment related books. These are rare…
Sindhu Vinod Narayan
October 31, 2021 @ 2:23 am
Ritu I love your book recommendations. Especially the ones on environment recently. I’m definitely adding some of these to my TBR.. The movement taht you’ve mentioned make me nostalgic about my history class
October 31, 2021 @ 8:45 am
This blogaberry journey has left me with so many good books to read. I recently read a review of Gate’s- How to avoid a climate disaster and now these! Thanks for sharing.
October 31, 2021 @ 11:39 am
Quite a nice compilation of books on environment. I was totally unaware of such movements, though we need them badly to save ourselves from climate disasters.
October 31, 2021 @ 4:55 pm
You are absolutely right. A lot of authors remain unknown because their books are not translated. Thank you for sharing about these books.
October 31, 2021 @ 5:03 pm
Thanks for sharing these. Infact i look to your blog now for recommendations as you have such a wide choice in genres of reading. Keep the bloga coming & happy reading & blogging!
October 31, 2021 @ 7:38 pm
Nice list of books. I read the Telugu book and it’s brutally honest and left me disturbed for a week or so
October 31, 2021 @ 10:33 pm
This is really a great effort by you. Even I too love write for CauseAChatter by blogchatter and so proud to be a part of it. A great way to contribute towards society.
October 31, 2021 @ 10:37 pm
Thanks for reminding me how we affect the environment with our choices…some great books to look over 👍
November 5, 2021 @ 6:16 pm
Nice Listicle. Thanks for introducing a new set of works
January 16, 2022 @ 10:42 pm
Thank you for undertaking this task and introducing us to important works we would otherwise have never known about! Each one seems to be a gem worth checking out.