Konkani writers reach an international stage
Two Sahitya Akademi laureates from Goa, Dr. Jayanti Naik and Sampada Kunkoliekar, have been selected as panelists in the online FOSWAL Literature Festival which will see participation from seven Asian countries. Their nomination itself for the first international literary festival gave them a huge boost for women-centered literature
They are both seasoned writers in Konkani and Marathi and are excited to share the wealth of Konkani literature with other writers from Asia. Dr. Jayanti Naik and Sampada Kunkoliekar will be part of the online FOSWAL Literature Festival, organized by Sahitya Akademi and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Writers and Literature Foundation with the participation of BIMSTEC countries which include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand from November 6-9.
The SAARC Foundation for Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) is the sole apex body of SAARC in the region, projecting, nurturing and strengthening cultural connectivity through literary and cultural interactions between countries in the region. SAARC, for peace and tranquility in the region, through human contacts and dialogue.
Dr Jayanti Naik from Amona, Quepem will join the panel of Ranjana Niraula (Nepal), Dr Ram Kumar Mukhopadhyay (India) and Dr Selina Hossain (Bangladesh) on November 6 for a fictional session which will include a self-introduction and reading of a piece of fiction. Dr. Jayanti will read a Konkani story translated into English. Sampada Shenvi Kunkoliekar will be part of the communication session with Kaushalya Kumarasinghe (Sri Lanka), Shoma Afroja (Bangladesh) and Professor Abhi Subedi (Nepal) on November 7.
On the other hand, Dr. Jayanti was the winner of the Sahitya Akademi Literary Prize in 2004 and the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize 2019. A Konkani writer and folklore researcher from Goa, she is a short story writer, playwright, children’s writer, folklorist, translator and was the first person to obtain a Ph.D. from the Konkani department of Goa University. Author of more than 45 books, she has her work published and translated into different languages.
“We were given a literary option of poetry, storytelling or reading stories. I’m still deciding what to read as this is Konkani’s representation internationally. It would have been much more exciting if the conference had taken place offline and we would have had the opportunity to meet everyone face to face. I have participated in national conferences organized by Sahitya Akademi in places like Bhopal and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There we have the option of reading our work in English or Hindi, which is usually the preferred language of most writers,” says Dr. Folkore, a socio-cultural study’.
‘Salt of the Earth’ was his first book of Konkani short stories which were translated into English by Augusto Pinto. “The true essence of the language is often different from colloquial language and popular terminology that has no English translation. However, Augusto did his best and retained the words and gave footnotes of terms page,” says Dr. Jayanti.
Its short stories are also published in Hindi, Marathi, Telagu, Mallyalam, Kannada, etc. “My collection of short stories, ‘Aarth’ and ‘Athang’ are both published in Kannada. “Aath” is translated by Geeta Shonoi and “Athang” by Dinesh Nayak. My poetry book ‘Mirgavenno’ is published in Marathi and translated by Dr Cecelia Carvalho, a renowned Marathi writer,” says Dr Jayanti, recipient of Goa Government Yashodamini Award, Kala Academy Award.
and recently received the Gulab Personality Award 2022.
These international festivals are important for the growth of a writer as they are exposed to different ideas and issues that plague the literary and publishing world. “We also learn about literature and where we are in terms of Konkani literature. Through interactions with authors from different parts of the world, we learn about their publishing issues, social environment, and challenges, especially of women authors. I am happy that the level of Goa is quite high in this field because we, as women authors, are more open-minded and liberal,” she explains.
She then worked on a dictionary of Konkani folklores for the University of Mangalore and one of the major projects to which she devoted many years of her writing life was a Konkani encyclopedia.
Sampada Kunkoliekar will talk about Ravindra Kelekar’s book ‘Othambe’. “Ravindra Kelekar was a philosophical writer and I chose this book because it is just one of his genres in Konkani literature. Inspired by Frederick Nitche’s ‘Twilight of the Idols’ when a writer sums up what they have to say in a page or a few paragraphs with philosophical insights into different aspects of life,” says Yuva Award winner Sampada of the Sahitya Akademi. Purascar 2020.
Sampada has been writing since 2009 in Konkani, Marathi and English and has published 13 books including three books in English, ‘Mysterious Power’, ‘Mystical Power’ and ‘Power Your Life’. “I have also written three books in Marathi and seven books in Konkani. The last book was ‘Jeevan Yog’ in Konkani, a collection of philosophical essays. I am currently researching Indian philosophy and working on my next book , ‘Gitarth (Essence of Bhagvad Gita)’,” says Sampada, who received the 2020 Yuva Puraskar Award from the Sahitya Akademi for the travelogue ‘Chaar Paanvla Ashiyet’. She also received the Yuva Srujan Puraskar State Prize 2019, Goa Hindu Association AN Mhambro Award and Central Art and Culture Junior Fellowship 2014-16.
It’s also the first international Sampada festival, “It’s a great opportunity especially to talk about my favorite book that helped shape my personality. It’s great to hear from other researchers from different countries and even though he is online, he will attend all the sessions,” concludes Sampada.