L. Somi Roy is a writer and the translator of his mother, the Manipuri writer Maharaj Kumari Binodini Devi. The Princess and the Political Agent, his translation of Binodini’s historical novel, came out as a Penguin Modern Classic in 2020. His retelling of Manipuri myths titled And That Is Why was published recently as a 2021 Puffin Book.
The Princess and the Political Agent
L. Somi Roy in conversation with Preeti Gill
The Sahitya Akademi award-winning Manipuri author Binodini's book was recently translated into English as The Princess and the Political Agent by her son L. Somi Roy. A moving and evocative novel, it is based on the love story of her aunt Princess Sanatombi and Lt. Col. Henry P. Maxwell, the British representative in the subjugated Tibeto-Burman kingdom of Manipur. Woven together with a deep sense of sorrow, empathy and wit, the tale follows a forbidden love story in the midst of the Anglo-Manipuri war of 1891 and unfolds Manipur's complex relationship with India and the British Raj. In conversation with editor and literary agent Preeti Gill, Roy unfurls a tragic account of love, war and pride while exploring the many nuances of the translation.