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Phoolsunghi: The first English translation of a Bhojpuri novel

Penguin Random House India proudly announces the acquisition and publication of Phoolsunghi, the English translation of Bhojpuri writer Pandey Kapil’s exquisite historical novel. This is the first time ever that a Bhojpuri novel will be made accessible to an English readership. The book will be published under Penguin’s Hamish Hamilton imprint in November 2020, and is currently available for pre-order on e-commerce websites.

 

This fascinating historical novel is considered to be the most loved Bhojpuri novel of all time. Set in colonial Bihar, it narrates the tale of an unfulfilled love between Mahendra Mishra, one of the most popular yet enigmatic Bhojpuri poets, and the tawaif Dhelabai. The two protagonists are brought together by unexpected circumstances, but they also suffer due to them. Their own actions pull them further apart. Filled with mujras, mehfils, legal battles and intrigues, the novel makes for a gripping read. The book will bring alive the cultural ethos of a forgotten world.

 

Welcoming the publication of Pandey Kapil’s iconic novel actor Manoj Bajpayee, two-time recipient of the National Film Award and an advocate for Bhjopuri said ‘Phoolsunghi’s greatest triumph lies in bringing the pulsating soul of an artist to life. I hope that this translation draws mainstream’s attention towards the long neglected language, literature and culture of the Bhojpuri speaking people of the world.’

 

‘I am absolutely thrilled that Penguin Random House India is going to publish the English translation of Phoolsunghi. Translating this phenomenal novel brought together a community of authors, language scholars and Bhojpuri enthusiasts. I am glad the rest of the world would now be able to discover an aspect of Bhojpuri culture they had never imagined and hopefully appreciate its richness,’ says Gautam Choubey, the translator of the book.

 

Ananya Bhatia, Associate Commissioning Editor, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Ever since Phoolsunghilanded upon my desk, it has been an exciting journey of discovering the abundant literature of a language we do not know enough about. Anyone who picks up this book will be charmed by the beauty of its lost world.’

 

About the Author and Tranlsator

 

Pandey Kapil (1930-2017) was a doyen of Bhojpuri literature, best remembered as the long-serving visionary editor of Bhojpuri Sammelan Patrika and the founder of Akhil Bharatiya Bhojouri Sahitya Sammelan (est.1973). To promote young authors, he established his own publication house, Bhojpuri Sansthan (est.1970), which brought out some of the best writings in Bhojpuri. Phoolsunghi is his finest work, and perhaps, of Bhojpuri literature too.

 

Gautam Choubey is an academic, translator and columnist. He teaches at A.R.S.D College (University of Delhi) and writes on Gandhi, popular culture and Indian literature. He has previously translated the writings of Andre Beitelle into Hindi. Presently, he is working on a history of Bhojpuri literature and a monograph tentatively titled Using Mahatma.