Professor Michael Hutt stresses on the significance of translation of literary creation

KATHMANDU: Professor Michael J Hutt of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, has been coming to Nepal since around the last 40 years. A scholar of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, Prof Hutt is a PhD in Nepali language and literature. He takes interest in and writes on modern and contemporary Nepali literature, Nepali diaspora, media, art and culture, Bhutanese refugees, among other topics.

He is the writer of 'Life of Bhupi Sherchan', 'Poetry and Politics in Post-Rana Nepal', 'Nepal in Nineties' and other books on Nepal and Nepali literature. Prof Hutt has also translated the epic 'Muna Madan' penned by Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota and the novel 'Basain' by Lil Bahadur Chhetri, into English.

He is currently working on the project titled 'After the Earth's Violent Sway-the tangible and intangible legacies of a natural disaster' following the Gorkha Earthquake of April 25, 2015. Other people associated with this project are Yogesh Raj Mishra, Jeevan Baniya (Nepal), Mark Lichety (America), John Whelpton (UK), and Stephanie Lottor (Germany). This three-year project is completing in 2020.

"The project will study the impact of the Gorkha Earthquake on Nepali culture, heritage, reconstruction, conservation, society and political process," Prof Hutt said.

Recently in Nepal, Prof Hutt is planning to go to Barpak, the epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude Gorkha Earthquake in Gorkha district for a study. He has also collected literary creations, including poetry, and six or seven special issues of literary magazines written on the theme of Gorkha Earthquake.

Prof Hutt has also read around 300 poems on the theme of the Gorkha Earthquake. These poems speak about human emotions and feelings including distress, angst, resolve, equality and hope that the earthquake evoked.

He is of the view that the number of readers of Nepali literature has increased a lot in a gap of 15 years, and journalists also writing literature is a sign of the coming change. It is his understanding that Nepali readers are spread around the world. Prof Hutt expressed happiness that women and people from the indigenous nationalities and Dalit communities have also started writing. "Inclusiveness has been there among the writers and the readers both," he observed.

Prof Hutt, who is presently conducting research into Nepali literature, is publishing the translation of 'Karnali Blues' by Buddhi Sagar Chapain and some poems on the theme of the earthquake in near future.

According to him, the Nepali writers have the capacity of creating heart touching literature but many of them are not publicised outside Nepal. He mentioned 'The Wayward Daughter: A Story of Kathmandu', a collection of stories penned by Shraddha Ghale. The book was published by The Speaking Tiger Publications in 2018 and it narrates the story of the experiences of middle-class people, of the social and political complexities and hardships in the post-1990 Nepal.

He said this anthology is very good and it is the best example of English literature written by a Nepali. "There is the possibility of many Nepali literary creations becoming popular if they were to be translated in English. Asked how he defines a world-class literary creation, Prof Hutt said the meaning of calling something world-class itself has to be explored.