The South Asian Literary Recordings Project is an exciting project in which 79 authors from the South Asian region have been recorded reading works written in their native languages — 18 different languages, in fact! I was first introduced to the website for the project by an e-friend who had been listening to a podcast of mine in which I interviewed a family member who recited Ghalib’s poetry in Urdu and who thought I’d be intrigued by this broader and more encompassing audio project.
After having been pointed to this site, I introduced various friends and family members to it, as a good librarian-in-training should. And now I am pleased to be sharing it with you! In fact, if you’re despairing thinking that this site would be of no use to you because you don’t speak a South Asian language, think again… English is very much a South Asian language, just as it is an American language — for the very reason that the formerly colonized have quite adapted it and made it their (our?) own. Therefore, visit the English page to listen to writers reading their English works to your heart’s content.
What’s fascinating to me, besides listening to the actual mp3 recordings and reading the author biographies, is that this project is actually an endeavor of the U.S. Library of Congress. When I originally clicked on the site, my first, erroneous assumption was that it was instigated by an Indian library. While it is true that the project was indeed first conceived by folks working for a library in India, it was actually an overseas branch of the LOC. The Library of Congress actually has overseas offices, not just in New Delhi, but also in Cairo, Islamabad, Jakarta, Nairobi and Rio. This, I must say, was news to me.
I hope someday to have the opportunity to do some work in conjunction with one of these overseas LOC offices… It just sounds so exciting to me, the idea of bringing together my fascination with Desi things, the international arena, languages, books, sound recordings and librarianship.