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John Vater holds an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa. The Play of Dolls is his first book in translation, co-translated with Apurva Narain. In 2018, he was selected as an emerging translator from the US to attend the Banff International Literary Translation Centre Residency in Canada. His translations have appeared in Ploughshares, the Asia Literary Review, Words without Borders, Two Lines Journal, and Exchanges. He works as a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore.

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John Vater

The Play of Dolls: Translation and the Art of Thought in Kunwar Narain's Short Fiction

On 29th Nov 4.00 p.m. - 4.40 p.m.

Indians are really good people and when I was in India they wholeheartedly welcomed me. I was very much excited about Hindi writing. I wanted to explore it. I knew how it was translated in the USA. I started to know about Indian philosophy, Upanishads, Panchatantra and other scriptures. I’m astonished to see such a mystic, deep and complex society. I thought there must be interesting and beautiful literature. I had some peculiar interests. When I was young I had many questions about philosophy, religion and many other things. There was a Hindi poet who was known for his details and preciseness. I searched a lot with the power of reading. His were not typical stories. They had meaning. Mr. Narain takes up his stories as romance with reality. Romance is not a sense of love but imagination. He tried to create a special storytelling technique which was motivating. Translation in a new book is a little but different. We have to look at the story and its other aspects. The story is very compassionate and deep meaning and interesting. Every story is a kind of thought experiment. Various stories reflect different meanings and morals. Author used stories to ask questions about these presets. How we act how we see things not with humans but also about nature and surroundings. My experience was amazing. I will encourage others to go for translation.