Divan Staliner Book Wins 7Th Romain Rolland Book Prize


(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANSlife) The French Institute in India, in collaboration with Apeejay Trust, announces Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee's book“Divan Staliner”, a translation of Jean-Daniel Baltassat's Stalin's Couch, the winner of 7th Romain Rolland Book Prize. This Bengali translation has been published by New Bharat Sahitya Kutir.

Elated about his win, translator Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee said,“I am delighted as my first translation from French into Bengali has been honoured with the Romain Rolland Book Prize. I am grateful to the French Institute in India for their support during the past two years – from arranging funds under the PAP Tagore programme to my selection as the awardee. I expect that more and more French books will be translated into Bengali. I promise to do so.”

“I extend my good wishes to Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee, a very deserving winner of the Romain Rolland Prize for his exceptional Bengali translation of Jean-Daniel Baltassat's Stalin's Couch. It is my sincere hope that his recognition inspires more translators and publishers to continue their invaluable work in introducing the richness of French literature to Indian readers. At Oxford Bookstores, we understand the vital role that translations play in enriching the literary landscape, exploring new cultures, perspectives, and ideas, and breaking down barriers while fostering a deeper appreciation for the diverse beauty of global literature. We are delighted to support the prestigious Romain Rolland Prize, a prize which not only acknowledges the efforts of Indian translators and publishers but also nurtures a love for literature that transcends boundaries," said Priti Paul, Director of Apeejay Surrendra Group.

This is the second time that a Bengali title has received the prestigious award, following the translation of Kamel Daoud's Meursault, contre-enquête as“Myorso Birudhyo Saksho” by Trinanjan Chakraborty, published in 2022 by Patra Bharati.

This year's winning title was originally published in French as Le Divan de Staline. It was longlisted for the prestigious Goncourt Prize in 2013 and later adapted for the cinema by Fanny Ardant, with Gérard Depardieu playing Stalin.

The story revolves around a singular episode in the life of Stalin. With three years left to live, Stalin comes to spend several days in his native Georgia, in a decadent palace in the middle of a forest. In the ducal study where he sleeps is a couch that resembles the one Freud has in London. At night, his long-time mistress, Vodieva, plays the role of a psychoanalyst. During the day a young painter, Danilov, a prodigy of social realism, waits to be received by Stalin to present to him the monument of eternity that he has designed to his glory. Insomnia, infinite questioning, infinite waiting. Stretched out on this couch, Stalin plays with the ghosts that haunt his dreams: his mother, his wife who committed suicide, his years in Siberia, and Lenin, the greatest of the lying fathers.

Jean-Daniel Baltassat imagines the intimate life of the Soviet ruler, and far from rehabilitating Stalin as being tender and affable, portrays him as a ruthless man who evokes terror and demands submission. He approaches Stalin as a writer with a remarkable evocative power, where imagination takes over from historical truth.

Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Counsellor for Education, Science and Culture, Embassy of France, and the Director of the French Institute in India said,“Jean-Daniel Baltassat belongs to a tradition of French writers excelling in the art of historical fiction. With the Romain Rolland Translation Prize, we aim to bring contemporary French literature to the forefront, and award the efforts made by Indian publishers and translators to make these works available in India.”The winning publisher will be invited by the French Institute in India to the Paris Book Market in May 2024 and the winning translator will be invited to the Paris Book Fair in April 2024.

Established in 2017, the Romain Rolland Book Prize awards the finest translation of a French title into any Indian language, including English. The prize aims to promote and acknowledge the efforts of Indian translators and publishers in introducing the richness of Francophone literature and thought in all its diversity to Indian readers. Ms. Priti Paul, Director, of Oxford Bookstores supports the Romain Rolland Prize through the Apeejay Trust.

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