India-born author gives a taste of Ghalib to Americans

By Arun Kumar,

An India-born former World Bank staff member turned poet and novelist has penned a new English translation of famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s works to meaningfully engage American readers.

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Gopi Chand Narang, leading literary critic and former President of Sahitya Akademi, released the book titled “The Treasure: A Modern Rendition of Ghalib’s Lyrical Love Poetry” by Surinder Deol, at a function here Sunday. The 378-page book, beautifully produced by Penguin-Random House imprint Partridge, contains a complete free verse translation of Ghalib’s entire Urdu Divan.

“Surinder Deol has dwelled deep into Ghalib and has struck a chord with the core of his creativity,” said Narang releasing the book.

“He believes in the inner transformation and ecstasy of poetry, and as a translator he has succeeded in unravelling the magical world of Ghalib’s charm and his joy and zest for life,” he said.

“Ghalib comes through alive and pulsating in this rendering. He has succeeded where others have failed. His annotations of exotic words and phrases are of added value.”

“Ghalib was never so close to the Western reader as he is now with this work,” Narang added.

Satyapal Anand, a former professor of English Literature at University of District of Columbia, Washington DC, who has authored several books of poetry in Urdu and English, offered fulsome praise for the book in his Preface.

“This compendium of Ghalib’s verse is a welcome addition to the slim corpus of Ghalib in English translation, not only because it has a sure method, but also because it doesn’t sacrifice the essential Ghalib in a foreign tongue, not of the bard’s choice,” he wrote.

Frances Pritchett of Columbia University has called the work a “gallant attempt” while Shafey Kidwai of Aligarh Muslim University believes this book is “destined to blaze a new trail in Ghalib studies.”

Aamir Mufti, University of California, said, “These renderings read well in English and will give the uninitiated a wonderful introduction to this major poet of the Indian subcontinent.”

“The Treasure” is available on internationally and on the FlipKart in India.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])