Harper Collins has published the Spanish translation of Mohana Swamy, an account of life as a gay man in small-town Karnataka.
Spanish is the official language in 20 countries, besides being the second most widely spoken language in the US.
“Many people tell me it is the first Kannada book to be translated into Spanish,” Vasudhendra says.
The corpus of gay literature in Europe is huge. The LGBT community in those parts is curious to know how gay life is perceived in India, he says.
The book first published in 2013, Mohana Swamy has gone into five reprints in Kannada. Its English translation by Rashmi Terdal appeared a little later.
“It is also being translated into Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Mohana Swamy was received well in Kannada, with girls and women identifying with the character of Mohana Swamy,” Vasudhendra, who lives in Bengaluru, says.
The Kannada original was a bestseller. Its theme is love and longing, and it describes how Mohana Swamy, a software engineer, comes to terms with ridicule and abuse. For him, as it was for its author, the book is about coming out of the closet.
“The main purpose of my book is to educate people. Gay men don’t live in urban areas alone. There are many in small towns and cities. Most of them suffer and with no one to confide in. I reached them through my book,” he says.
After the publication of his book, many gay people from across the state contacted Vasudhendra. “I spoke to them and counselled them as I am a trained counsellor,” he told Metrolife.
The credit of portraying the life of gays in mainstream Kannada fiction goes to Vasudhendra. “There were references to homosexuality in Kannada literature. It appears in stories by Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, Shivaram Karanth, Kamarupi and others,” he says.
Masti got it right, but some of the other writers ended up portraying homosexuality as wrong, he says.
Vasudhendra gave up a corporate career and took to full-time writing and publishing.
Through his publishing house Chanda Pustaka, he has spotted and encouraged many new talents.
Vasudhendra is now writing a novel on the Vijayanagar empire with a focus on Persian horses. The Bahmani, Vijayanagar and Mughal rulers coveted Persian horses. “The novel revolves around this desire,” he says.