Bengali Translation Triumphs: Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee Awarded Romain Rolland Book Prize 2024

In a literary triumph, Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee has been bestowed with the prestigious Romain Rolland Book Prize for his exceptional translation of Jean-Daniel Baltassat’s “Le Divan de Staline” into Bengali, titled “Staliner Divan.” The accolade, a testament to Chatterjee’s linguistic prowess and faithfulness to the original text, marks the second time a Bengali translation has claimed this esteemed award.

Chatterjee’s translation, published by New Bharat Sahitya Kutir, Kolkata, has been celebrated for its profound linguistic dexterity, breathing life into the narrative while preserving the essence of Baltassat’s work. The translation skillfully captures the nuances of “Le Divan de Staline,” a novel that peels back the layers of a crucial episode in Joseph Stalin’s life, set against the backdrop of his native Georgia.

The novel paints a vivid portrait of Stalin, grappling with insomnia and haunted by the ghosts of his past. The storyline unfolds as he engages with his mistress, Vodieva, who assumes the role of a psychoanalyst, awaiting the arrival of a young painter, Danilov, presenting a monument in Stalin’s honor. Baltassat’s narrative, enriched with vivid imagery and evocative storytelling, presents Stalin not as a benevolent figure but as a tyrant consumed by cruelty and ruthlessness.

The acknowledgment of Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee’s translation underscores the increasing appreciation for diverse literary voices and cultural exchanges. By introducing French literature to Bengali readers, Chatterjee’s work not only enriches the literary landscape but also fosters cross-cultural understanding.

New Bharatiya Sahitya Kutir, the publishing house behind this award-winning translation, and Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee, the translator, are set to receive invitations to esteemed literary events. The publisher will participate in the Paris Book Market in May 2024, while the translator will be present at the Paris Book Fair in April 2024, organized by the French Institute in India.

This recognition serves as a celebration not only of the art of translation but also as a powerful testament to the ability of literature to bridge cultures and cultivate mutual understanding. It highlights the role of translators as cultural ambassadors, bringing the richness of one language’s literary heritage to another, fostering a global literary tapestry that resonates across borders. As the literary world celebrates this achievement, it stands as a reminder of the profound impact of language and literature in connecting diverse communities.

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