7 Translated Indian Eco-Fiction

indian eco fiction books list
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To a lot of us, ecological awareness might seem like something that has grown and developed in recent years, but that’s anything but true. Many works in the regional literature of India are centered on ecological issues, from rivers to tribes, that strive to raise awareness and develop empathy for the atmosphere around us.

In today’s article, we’re going to look at some of the best works of translated Indian eco-fiction from across the country that are based on the local ecosphere and ask important questions.

Let’s look at the best translated Indian eco-fiction straight away then!

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Dweepa: Island

Title: Dweepa: Island

Author: Written by Na. D’Souza, translated by Susheela Punitha

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Price: 195

Pages: 128

Blurb:

Set in the village of Hosamanehalli, this Indian eco-fiction novel revolves around the lives of five families and their struggle to adapt to the profound changes brought about by the project.

The novel delves into larger themes of displacement, social hierarchy, and the erosion of community bonds. As the government compensation fails to adequately address the needs of the affected families, the deep-rooted inequalities and corruption within the system are exposed. 

 

The portrayal of the landscape, with the Sharavathi River on one side and the Sita Parvatha hillock on the other, serves as a symbolic representation of the past and the present, of tradition and progress.

Through the lens of these interconnected lives, D’Souza looks into the complexities of human relationships, societal dynamics, and the erosion of age-old values. Through the stories, this Indian eco-fiction novel raises important questions about the true cost of progress and the value of preserving our cultural heritage.

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Valli

Title: Valli

Author: Written by Sheela Tomy, translated by Jayasree Kalathil

Publisher: Harper Perennial India

Price: 455

Pages: 420

Blurb:

Valli by Sheela Tomy is a captivating and evocative exploration of the land of Wayanad in northern Kerala, India. Through the lens of four generations, this Indian eco-fiction book explores the rich history, struggles, and triumphs of the indigenous people, the Adivasis, in the face of exploitation, cultural erosion, and social change.

 

The book is written in the form of a diary, penned by Susan, that provides an intimate account of her parents’ journey to Wayanad and their determination to build a life together. As the story unfolds, it becomes a testament to the resilience and spirit of the Adivasis, who faced exploitation and enslavement as the forest dwindled and outside influences encroached upon their land.

 

The mist-covered Western Ghats, the paddy fields, and the deep forests serve as the backdrop for an Indian eco-fiction story that blends together tales of interdependence, abuse, repression, resistance, despair, and contentment. Sheela intertwines the personal stories of the characters with the larger socio-political landscape of Wayanad, including its role as a centre of direct action and a stronghold for the Naxalite movement.

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Tale of a Wasteland

Title: Tale of a Wasteland

Author: Written by Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', translated by Murari Madhusudan Thakur

Publisher: Global Vision Press

Price: 495

Pages: 488

Blurb:

In this stellar work of Indian eco-fiction, a wasteland, both physical and metaphorical, serves as the backdrop for a powerful exploration of life’s complexities. Renu writes this Indian eco-fiction novel with a deep compassion for humanity and an unwavering belief in the resilience of the common man. He brings to life a multitude of authentic characters who navigate the challenges of their existence against the backdrop of a harsh and unforgiving wasteland imposed by both nature and society. Renu’s characters are not mere literary constructs; they are living, breathing individuals whose stories pulse with the essence of real life.

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Restless Waters of the Ichhamati

Title: Restless Waters of the Ichhamati

Author: Written by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, translated by Rimli Bhattacharya

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 377

Pages: 400

Blurb:

This remarkable Indian eco-fiction novel is a tribute to the abundant natural beauty that thrives in the landscapes of Bengal and it captures the essence of the region’s flora and fauna, painting a picture of the lush plant life that adorns its every corner.

Through the eyes of a contemplative river-farer, the reader is taken on a captivating journey, witnessing the ever-changing panorama of the sky, water, and human settlements that dot the Ichhamati’s course throughout the seasons.

 

The story navigates the passage of time, intertwining the lives of generations past, present, and future who have called the banks of the Ichhamati their home.

It is a testament to the connection between humanity and nature, reminding us of our place in the grand fabric of existence. The absence of chapter breaks in the novel reflects the author’s deliberate choice, allowing the story to flow uninterrupted like the river itself, and one of the reasons why this Indian eco-fiction text is a classic in its own right. 

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The Upheaval

Title: The Upheaval

Author: Written by Pundalik N. Naik, translated by Vidya Pai

Publisher: OUP India

Price: 474

Pages: 276

Blurb:

Naik’s novel, first published in 1977, depicts the contamination and degradation caused by the iron ore mining industry in the region.

Through his evocative prose, Naik creates a visceral picture of an environmental catastrophe as the Mandovi River and the village of Kolamba bear the brunt of industrial exploitation. He shows the devastating effects on the natural flora and fauna, as well as the emergence of diseases like tuberculosis, as the land is stripped of its precious resources.

 

Beyond the environmental impact, The Upheaval also explores the sociological and cultural ramifications of the shift from agriculture to mining as the primary mode of occupation. Naik talks about the upheaval experienced by the indigenous people of Kolamba, highlighting how their way of life and traditional practices are eroded and disrupted by the encroachment of industrialization.

Through the lens of the characters and their experiences, this Indian eco-fiction novel raises important questions about the preservation of indigenous culture and the transformations brought about by economic exploitation.

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The Book of the Hunter

Title: The Book of the Hunter

Author: Written by Mahasweta Devi, translated by Sagaree and Mandira Sengupta

Publisher: Seagull Books

Price: 282

Pages: 136

Blurb:

Inspired by the life and works of the renowned poet Kabikankan Mukundaram Chakrabarti, this Indian eco-fiction book interweaves historical and socio-political narratives through the lens of his epic poem, Abhayamangal or Chandimangal.

 

In the section aptly titled Byadhkhanda – the Book of the Hunter – Mahasweta Devi looks into the lives and experiences of the hunter tribes known as the Shabars, who inhabited the lush forests and their surroundings. She presents a multifaceted portrayal of their existence, their struggles, and their unique relationship with nature.

 

The book takes readers into the heart of the forest, where they can almost hear the rustling leaves, feel the damp earth beneath their feet, and sense the harmony between the Shabars and their natural environment. The Book of the Hunter sheds light on the often marginalized and overlooked communities, giving them a voice and revealing the intricate dynamics of their lives.

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Softly Dies A Lake

Title: Softly Dies A Lake

Author: Written by Akkineni Kutumbarao, translated by Vasanth Kannabiran

Publisher: Orient BlackSwan Pvt. Ltd.

Price: 450

Pages: 224

Blurb:

This translated Indian eco-fiction book is an elegy to Kolleru, one of India’s largest freshwater lakes located in Andhra Pradesh.

Through the pages of Kolleti Jadalu, Kutumbarao creates a dynamic portrait of the villages and the lives intricately intertwined with the lake. He presents the precarious existence of a community constantly grappling with the challenges of survival in an environment that is both nurturing and unforgiving. 

 

The lake, with its unpredictable nature, becomes the lifeblood of the people, shaping their hopes, joys, sorrows, and dreams. Through the innocent eyes of five-year-old Seen, we witness the profound connection between the people and their surroundings. With a delicate balance of dry humour, gentle irony and empathy, Kutumbarao unveils a world that is rich, vibrant, and tragically vulnerable. 

This Indian eco-fiction novel offers a glimpse into a little-known universe, mercilessly destroyed as the forces of the market overpower the delicate equilibrium of nature. Softly Dies a Lake becomes a witness to memory, history, tribute, lament, apology, and penance.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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