The Mozhi Prize 2022: A note from the judges

N. Kalyan Raman

I was honoured to be a member of the jury for the inaugural edition of the Mozhi Prize. It was an enjoyable experience chiefly for two reasons. One, I got a chance to read a well curated collection of stories in Tamil, many of which I hadn’t read before. Two, I had the pleasure of experiencing, as a reader, the ethos, milieu and registers of a familiar culture ably transported into another language. My congratulations to all the participants, and especially the winners, for choosing to enter the domain of ‘this little art’ of literary translation. May you efforts flourish and grow in excellence in the coming years. 

I have a few suggestions to make to the particpants on making your mark as a literary translator. In literature, only the very best texts receive wide attention and stand the test of time. So it is with translations. Therefore, choose the texts you want to translate with great care. A good translator is also an expert curator of texts for readers in the target language.. Second, translation at its best is about the struggle to find that better word, phrase and sentence. Bear in mind that it’s a struggle without end. Never stop learning from every resource available to you. Finally, reading widely and well in both languages is foundational to becoming a competent translator. Wide reading can help you cultivate your sensibility and augment your capacity for literary expression. Both are indispensable for this little art. I hope you, too, will find translation as pleasurable and exciting a pursuit as it has been to many of us over the years. 

My best wishes to all participants.

A. Muttulingam

It was a pleasure to be a member of the jury for the inaugural edition of the Mozhi Prize, which in itself is an excellent initiative and needs to be encouraged. The competition was well put-together by the team and can be a model for others doing similar projects. 

I was happy to see that the competition garnered a wide variety of translations and the submissions included both classics from the oeuvre of Tamil short fiction as well as the works of new and upcoming writers. Many of the translations were excellent. Hearty congratulations to the participants, and especially the winners. I do hope you continue to practise the art of translation and contribute to taking Tamil literature to the world stage. I encourage you to read world literature widely in the target language and develop further, the ability to transport cultural contexts to a global audience. 

Best wishes.

Deepa Bhasthi

As a non-Tamil, it was firstly an immense privilege to be able to access the works of so many Tamil writers in translation. I was very impressed with the range of stories chosen and the brilliance of so many of the translations, and it was certainly an unenviable job to pare it down to the final winners list. While I am fairly fluent in spoken Tamil, I cannot read or write the language, yet. Thanks to this, however imperfect my coordinates in the language, I was able to ‘hear’ a lot of the translated words and sentiments in Tamil, which in my book counts as a good translation. 

The act of translation is both a privilege and a labour of love, and perhaps ever more urgent in the times we live in. I sincerely hope that at least a few of these translators continue practising this magical art of cross pollinating between languages and therefore, cultures. 

I also look forward to seeing the marvellous initiative that is Mozhi expand to include more languages and enriching the translation landscape in the coming years.

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