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A winner of the Sahitya Akademi’s first ever translation award, Susheela Punitha has been lauded for the way she made UR Ananthamurthy’s famous Kannada work Bharathipura accessible to the non-Kannada reading audience in 2010.

A writer of children’s books herself, Punitha had never done a translation before ‘Bharathipura’, but since the book was published, she has been working on many other great works of Kannada literature, making them accessible to other audiences.

Excerpts from an interview.

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How did you feel when you learned you had won?

I was overwhelmed, because UR Ananthamurthy’s ‘Bharathipura’ was my first translation, and I’m a hand-on translator.

Prof. CN Ramachandran sent me a mail congratulating me on the award even before I’d heard from the Akademi. He told me he had been on the committee and had known about it for some time, but was only waiting for the Akademi to make it public which they had done that morning.

What turned you to translation?

Mini Krishnan of Oxford University Press asked me to translate, which came as a surprise because I had never translated anything before. Mini trusted me to do it at a time when I did not know what it is to be trusted as a translator.

Did you think you might win, or was it a surprise?

It was a total surprise. I didn’t even know my ‘Bharathipura’ was being considered for the award.

How will winning this award affect your work?

I can’t see it affecting my work in any way. I have a huge project on hand and will be happy to get back to it. Translation creeps slowly, word by word, expression by expression…

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Have you won other awards in the past?

I had been short-listed for the Jaipur Literature Prize and The Hindu Literature Prize for the same translation.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

I wish I could share the excitement of my interaction with the wonderful writers I have translated. They have honed my skills and made me sensitive to many varieties of Kannada.

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