Book Review – Brink

Like the protagonist Amrita, I was on the brink of giving up on this book. It required enormous patience on my part to ignore the archaic language and stick to the story. This is Sri Bhyrappa’s Kannada novel “Anchu” and boy! am I glad I read Aavarana first. Sandeep Balakrishna’s translation was beyond awesome and it was like Sri Bhyrappa writing in English.

“Brink” is a magnum opus that’s lost in translation. Mr. Ranganath Prasad’s English translation of “Anchu” left me feeling really upset. I don’t know who was the editor of the translation and why he or she didn’t fix it. It almost feels like a conspiracy to derail Sri. Bhyrappa’s works from reaching the masses.

I know nothing about the book publishing world, but if it is possible, this translation must be removed from the shelves and someone else should do the translation all over again.

Amrita on the Brink

The story is about Amrita, a coffee estate owner’s daughter. Its about her being on the edge and how an architect, who is a widower, helps bring her back from that edge. Several strong human emotions are dealt with in this novel – suicide, love, sex, motherhood, fidelity, anger and happiness. The novel also helps the reader evaluate marriage and relationships without standing in judgement.

That Sri Bhyrappa is a legendary story teller comes through once you ignore the archaic idiomatic, “Indianised” English. Reading this book is like doing some mental gymnastics :).

Examples of some translation goof-ups and unheard of English words

“.. the ipseity of English”; “weekly victuals guest”; “excessively termagant”; “thereat”; “The formal deferential argot would convey to him that her ire had graduated to the second-degree boil.”; “..his entire body transuded from dread.”; “dolour of bereavement”; “verbiage was the resort to legerdemains.”; “winnow”;

Before you head out to the brink, here are some meanings of these unheard of English words. Ipseity – selfhood; victuals – food or provisions; termagant – harsh-tempered or overbearing woman; thereat – at that place; argot – language used by a particular group of people 🙄; transuded -discharged gradually through the pores of the body…. “sweat” in normal language; dolour – distress; legerdemains – use of one’s hands in conjuring tricks; winnow – blow a current of air;

Phew ! That was hard work and I thought my vocabulary was great. I have demoted myself to “fair” not even good.

Recommendation – Amrita will get hold of you emotionally. Just have the patience to read the archaic English and the novel is a magnum opus. I wish there is a better translation at some time. This is a story that has to be told.


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