A great Indian writer and his forgotten connection to Czechoslovakia

Photo: David Vaughan, Radio Prague International

The Indian writer, investigative journalist and translator Ashutosh Bhardwaj is known internationally for his work on the tribal people in Central India caught between Maoist insurgents and the police. But it was something very different that recently brought him to Prague. He is writing a book about the influential Hindi writer, Nirmal Varma, who has been all but forgotten here, even though he spent the best part of a decade in post-war Czechoslovakia. David Vaughan met Ashutosh Bhardwaj to talk about this fascinating literary link. But their conversation began with Franz Kafka, who was born 140 years ago in the same house just off the Old Town Square where Bhardwaj was staying on the invitation of Prague’s City Library.

Franz Kafka was the first writer whom I translated into Hindi. I began my life as a translator with his short story “A Hunger Artist” or “A Fasting Artist” into Hindi. It still remains one of my favourite pieces of short fiction.

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Author: David Vaughan