Narratives with No Need for Translation?” Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (2012) and David Hare (2014)

Aleksandra Kamińska


Katherine Boo’s award-winning non-fiction book (2012) and David Hare’s play Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2014) are set in a Mumbai slum called Annawadi. They tell a story of one family’s struggle with the Indian judiciary system, describing the life in a Mumbai slum in the process. The article purports to analyse the translation element of Boo’s narrative, as well as the book’s translation (Polish translation by Adrianna Sokołowska-Ostapko) and adaptation (Hare’s play). The first part of the article is focused on various shifts occurring in those secondary texts. Special attention is paid to ideological consequences and motivations of various decisions, which, consequently, leads to the question about the oppressive potential of translation (inspired by theories of Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak). The second part of the article deals with the fact that although translation remains an essential and obvious component of Behind the Beautiful Forevers for all three authors (Boo, Hare, and Sokołowska-Ostapko), this issue has been largely neglected (or misrepresented) by readers and critics. This, in turn, leads to the question (based on Itamar Even-Zohar’s polysystem theory) to what extent the case of Behind Beautiful Forevers can be interpreted as a product of various forces conditioning the scope and future of postcolonial translation.

Słowa kluczowe: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo, David Hare, adaptation, translation criticism


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