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“I feel, by nature, women here are more reticent to put their ideas in writing”.

August 19, 2019

Mrs Anjani Naravane’s (AN) journey as an author is truly inspiring. Starting from cookery books in Marathi – her versatile explorations continue – as she endeavours to delight readers of Marathi with the gems of her discovery in English and Gujarati literature. Now in her late eighties, she already has 35 books to her credit. These came about with familial responsibilities over the years.

PG: You have had spectacularly long writing innings. When and how did it all begin?

AN
: It happened like this: My sister-in-law (brother’s wife) used to contribute to one Marathi magazine. Once she requested me to write there about the dinner parties that we used to give because (a) we had a cosmopolitan group of friends, (b) we used to have overseas guests staying with us for some days – being members of a group called International Friendship League run by Shri Mahendrabhai Meghani, and (c) I was fond of cooking, learning new recipes from different countries! So I wrote about a party we had recently hosted when a Swedish architect was staying with us. It included the menu and recipes.

The Editor and she liked the article and I was asked to write more often. This is how it all began. I started writing on various other topics too. I wrote three cookery books on different topics for three different publishers. So that is how I became a writer in Marathi! I also started translating good books (those that I liked) from English and Gujarati into Marathi.

PG: How many books in all, till date?

AN: Thirty five. These include five of my own, some from English into Marathi and the rest from Gujarati into Marathi.

PG: How have you evolved as an author? What are the most preferred themes you like to write about? Any specific likes for translations that you undertake?

AN: I like to talk to or find out about the younger generation’s problems. I wrote two books on this subject which are my own. The third one was given to me by my publisher to translate from English to Marathi, which I did. I also like to translate biographies of which I have done three.

PG: Would you like to mention what these problems tend to be and how are they any different from those faced by the earlier generations?

Each new generation seeks more independence. In India, we often see two or three generations living together… But generally in Western countries, I think when a couple decides to get married, they will look for an accommodation first!

AN: Each new generation seeks more independence. In India, we often see two or three generations living together. I read that in Japan too, this custom prevails; maybe in Germany as well. But generally in Western countries, I think when a couple decides to get married, they will look for an accommodation first! This did not happen in India atleast, when the new bride was expected to take over much of the physical work from the mother-in-law. So the problems are essentially different.

When people get old in the West, they are put in old-age homes; here they are (willy-nilly perhaps) looked after by their children, for lack of really good homes for the aged and also the concept is yet to take root. 

PG: Which were the three biographies that you translated?

AN: 1. It’s Not About the Bike – My Journey Back to Life, by Lance Armstrong. Translation in Marathi, first published in March 2009, went into four editions.

2. Russi Mody, The Man Who Also Made Steel – published in June 2010. 

3. Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges, by Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam – published in Marathi in November 2012. It went into six editions.

I realised that two of these are actually speaking autobiographies.

PG: Which is the most favourite book written by you, till date?

AN: I am not writing much myself these days. The most favourite book is a Gujarati novel written by the well-known Gujarati author Shri Dhruv Bhatt – Tattvamasi (literally, That Thou Art). It received the Sahitya Academy Award for the best Gujarati book that year. My Marathi translation of this book went into four editions or reprints. I translated the same in English too, on assignment by the Academy. 


PG: Who do you write for – yourself or the fan following?

AN: No fan following! I translate into Marathi from English and Gujarati if I like the book and I think Marathi readers will like it.

PG: What next and when?

AN: Another novel on Mahabharat’s Bheeshma, titled Pratishruti (Remembering the Past), by Dhruv Bhatt has been translated by me into Marathi and will be out soon. Also, I have been translating good Gujarati short stories into Marathi, a collection of these should be in the market the next year or so. I think I will be calling it a day then! 

PG: How in your view can more women be drawn into writing?

AN: I feel, by nature, women here are more reticent to put their ideas in writing. I had no problem because the family I married into was progressive. My Mother-in-law (born in 1894) was one of the first lady graduates in India! The situation is changing very fast and improving, giving women a wider perspective on life. The next generation is already different. 

PG: Grateful thanks for the wonderful insights!

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One Comment
  1. I enjoyed reading through the blog and I so relate to the fact that women are reserved when it comes to expressing!!

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