07 February 2021

#AuthorInterview with V.Shyamala


Surge On Like a River

About The Book

Surge On Like a River is the English translation of the Tamil book titled ‘Nee Nadhi Pola Odikondiru’, originally written by Bharathy Bhaskar, a Chemical Engineer and an MBA, who is a banker by profession. She is also a popular columnist and speaker, and a household name in Tamil homes, thanks to the debates and shows she has spoken in.

The essays are written in a simple, engaging style, and filled with profound insights. These nuggets of wisdom primarily draw from the author’s life experiences and her empathetic observations of the people and situations around her.

This English translation by V. Shyamala captures the lively nature of the original, bringing it to a wider audience with the idea that the readers who do not know Tamil should not miss out on the wonderful collection.

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Interview with V. Shyamala

When did you decide to be a translator?

My mother is a voracious reader who favored Tamil books. She instilled in both my brother and me a deep love for books. My father was a bank officer, and I did 12 years of schooling in 6 different schools across four Indian states. So, I was exposed to different languages and cultures. As the medium of instruction was primarily English, I developed the habit of reading English books.

But, as I grew up and began reading Tamil books, there were many books that I felt needed to be made accessible to a wider audience. The seed was sown then. 

It was only during the lockdown I decided to act on it and try my hand at translating this book which is really very close to my heart.

At a certain level, most of us are translators, we translate abstract thought into words, think in our mother tongue but tend to communicate in a different language…

What are the ambitions of your writing career?

Frankly, I do not have any strong personal ambition. I have a burning desire to bring good works in vernaculars into English. I want to inspire interested and skilled people to undertake translations and help readers access works from different languages and cultures, generate reader’s interest in translated works as a genre in its own merits…

Had Dorothy Britton not translated Totto Chan into English, it is doubtful whether it would have been as popular today.

Even Ramayana and Mahabharata have been able to reach a wide audience and are popular today because of translators.

Give us insight into the broader theme of your book?

This is a collection of 20 essays written by the popular Tamil orator, Bharathy Bhaskar. They are little nuggets of wisdom primarily drawn from the author’s life experiences and her empathetic observations of the people and situations around her – slices of life from a woman’s perspective

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

There is no particular plan. I have certain days when the words simply flow. On some days, I get stuck and find myself unable to proceed further.

But yes, I tend to make a point to read for at least an hour every day, usually more! Only when you read more, you can write more and better.

What is the feedback from readers that you cherished?

I felt a sense of achievement when two friends of mine – one Bengali and one British – read the book and told me they were able to relate to the content – especially, grasp the context. Good works have the ability to cross-cultural barriers. 

What can readers expect from this book?

If you are a woman, you will feel like this is a conversation with a friend. Many passages would surely seem to be written for you.

If you are a man, do read it. You will understand the women in life better. What is even more, this would be the best gift you can give the special women in your life.

What can we expect from you down the line?

I am currently translating a children’s novel by the popular author, Jeyamohan. In the future, I want to translate many more Tamil works that touch my heart, focusing primarily on contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature.

I am also the founder ‘Princess and Paniyaram Publications. We strive to provide quality English stories and worksheets free of cost on our website. Our aim is to make learning English easy, fun, and accessible to each and every child – especially those from a weaker socio-economic background.

About the Author

Bharathi Baskar is a Tamil Orator who is popular for her humorous debate talk shows called Pattimandram.com, telecasted on Sun TV. She is also an anchor for the daily talk show called Vaanga Peasalam at 7.15 a.m from Monday to Wednesday on Sun TV. Bharathi Baskar is also a Senior Vice President at Citi Bank, Chenna

About the Translator

V.Shyamala is a cost accountant, a homemaker, and a writer. She loves to weave stories and is on a continuous quest to seek new and creative ways to teach children. When not writing, reading, or thinking up stories, Shyamala mentors CIMA students, strives to workout, loves tweaking South Indian heritage recipes, and translates Tamil words to English. She is also a member of AWIC (Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children) and volunteers at a local library twice a week.

Catch with Up V.Shyamala on Social Media