Epic Kannada Novel ‘Anchu’ Translated To English

Anchu book cover

S L Bhyrappa’s epic Kannada novel Anchu, which addresses the issues of mental health and suicidal tendencies, has been translated into English. Translated by R Ranganath Prasad, Brink is a love saga between Somashekhar, a widower, and Amrita, an estranged woman. Amrita recurrently suffers from the severest urge to take her own life but Somashekhar anchors her to life each time.

She revolts, and because of her mental condition, she also inflicts pain and torture – emotional and moral – upon him. With great perseverance, personal suffering, and sacrifice, he brings her back to normalcy. It is interesting how the author draws inference between the names and the actions of the two characters. The footnotes to the preface say: “Amrita means ambrosia and Somashekhar is a synonym for Lord Shiva, whose anthropomorphic form is adorned in the head (Shekhar) by the moon (soma). In a mythological event, Shiva swallowed poison to save the universe.” The narrative thus deliberates on the moral, philosophical, and physical aspects of love between a man and a woman. At the core of the story is compassion, and Somashekhar is the very personification of it.

In relating the thoughts of the characters in this novel, Prasad says, it is typical of Bhyrappa to script contiguously seemingly disparate thoughts within a single sentence as they occur in their minds. Though the constituent parts of this “stream of consciousness” are almost complete semantically, they are mostly incomplete syntactically.

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He says while translating, care has been taken to strike a balance with a view to ironing out the impediments to comprehension. Anchu was originally published in the year 1990. The translation is being brought out by Niyogi Books to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10.

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