Scandinavian children’s literature now in Hindi


New Delhi : Norway has opened its treasure chest of children’s literature to vernacular readers in India by translating four Norwegian children’s books in Hindi.

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This is the second lot of Norwegian children’s literature to be translated in English. Last year, the Embassy of Norway had translated four children’s books into Hindi to reach out to millions of children from middle class homes studying in vernacular schools across the country.

The books translated this year include “Naye Ghar Mein Gadbadi” written by Av Lene Ask, “Chai ki Ketli” by Jan Kora Olen, “Dost ya Dushman” by Kala Benedik and Trond Braenne; and “Rajkumar Bho-Bho” by Bjorn Ousland.

The books were released by Aslak Brun, minister counsellor, Embassy of Norway in the capital Monday.

The translation projects have been funded by a non-profit Norwegian literary forum, Norla which is supporting the translation of yet another book, “Out Stealing Horses”, a work of fiction by Per Petterson, in three Indian languages. It will be released late autumn.

Besides, the organisation is also helping translate selected works of Norwegian playwright Ibsen in Indian regional languages.

For the past three years, the Embassy of Norway has been carrying playwright Ibsen’s works to the Indian masses with an annual Ibsen festival under a cultural exchange.

The Norwegian children’s books in Hindi are “pictorial novels” with colourful illustrations and accompanying texts.

“My book ‘Naya Ghar Mein Gadbadi’ is about a family which is very disorganised. It is supposed to relocate to a bigger place and while shifting residence, the one thing that they forget are the keys. I usually write about everyday things,” writer of the book Av Lene Ask told IANS in the capital.

“Norway is a small country of only four million inhabitants. But so many people speak Hindi in India. Though life in Norway is different from that in India, I want Indian children to read about Norway and understand our way of life,” Ask, who has authored five books, said.

Minister counsellor Aslak Brun, who is the deputy head of the mission of the Norwegian Embassy here, said his country was keen to “facilitate a more brisk exchange of literature and culture between India and Norway”.

“The books are an attempt to generate interest about Norway in India. They are subsidised and cost Rs.50,” Brun told IANS. The Embassy of Norway is trying to expand the “ambit of the activity of Ibsen’s festival in November with literary seminars based on the works of the playwright,” he said.

Norway, along with Denmark and Sweden has a rich history of children’s and young adult’s literature. The northern nations’ greatest legacy to children’s literature are Danish raconteur Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and Sweden’s Astrid Lindgren’s cult heroine Pippi Longstocking.