2024 Romain Rolland Prize goes to “Stalin’s Couch” Translation

The Romain Rolland Book Prize 2024 has been awarded to the Bengali translation of “Stalin’r Couch,” a French novel that delves into the last years of the Soviet ruler. This accolade is presented by the French Institute in India, commemorating the esteemed French writer Jean-Christophe, known for his fascination with India and its literature.

Key Highlights:

  • Award Winner: The prize was conferred upon Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee for his translation from French to Bengali, marking his first such endeavor to be recognized in this manner.
  • About the Prize: Initiated in partnership with The Hindu seven years ago, the Romain Rolland Book Prize celebrates the best translation of French literature into any Indian language, including English. Winners are invited to Paris to participate in the Book Fair, enhancing cultural exchange.
  • Publisher’s Reaction: Pankaj Kumar Basak, of New Bharat Sahitya Kutir expressed encouragement over the award and committed to future publications of French literature translations.
  • Cinematic Adaptation: “Le Divan de Staline,” the French original, was adapted into a 2016 movie, highlighting its broad appeal and the poignant story it tells of a dictator’s twilight years.
  • Inspirational Goal: Viri P. J. Paul, founder of Apeejay Oxford Bookstores Charitable Trust, which funds the project, hopes the award inspires more translators and publishers to bring French literature to Indian readers, enriching the literary landscape through the exploration of new cultures and ideas.
  • Cultural Synergy: The French Consul General, Virginie Corteval, emphasized the convergence of French and Bengali Indian cultures through this prize, acknowledging the effort to preserve the essence of original literary works in translations.


Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Director of the French Institute in India, mentioned that Jean-Daniel Baltassat, the author of the awarded book, belongs to a tradition of French writers who excel in historical fiction. The Romain Rolland Book Prize aims to highlight contemporary French literature and the significant efforts of Indian publishers and translators in making these works accessible in India.

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