Bangladesh at fifty: An anthology for scholars and readers alike

Golden jubilee collection of essays, fiction and poems from Bangla, Urdu and English will enlarge the readership of some compelling voices from the either side of the border

GN Bureau | March 3, 2022


#literature   #Bangladesh   #history  


Bangladesh: Writings on 1971, Across Borders
Edited by Rakhshanda Jalil and Debjani Sengupta
Orient BlackSwan, Rs. 875.00, 292 pages

When India celebrated in 1997 the golden jubilee of its independence, the occasion was also marked by the publication of several special volumes and editions, celebrating the nation through language and literature. Salman Rushdie along with Elizabeth edited ‘The Vintage Book of Indian Writing 1947-1997’ (where ‘Indian writing’ curiously meant ‘Indian writing in English’). Venerable journals had India-themed issues and Granta introduced Arundhati Roy to the world.

In December 2021, Bangladesh had the golden jubilee of its independence, though celebrations remain muted amid the pandemic. Yet, the historic milestone calls for a publication that looks book over the contested histories of the youngest nation in South Asia who remains a mirror to the two nations it had been part of in the past.

Rakshanda Jalil and Debjani Sengupta set out to do that in this eclectic volume, collecting essays, fiction and poems, from Bangla, Urdu and in one case English, tracing the journey of a nation. This anthology investigates the space where literature and history overlap, as seen by writers and poets on either side of the borders. They recount the months and decades of dreams and nightmares, of euphoria and trauma.

For students and scholars of South Asia region, the anthology will provide valuable insights that can come only from literature. On the other hand, for readers with a literary bent, jubilees come and go, but it is as literature that most of the works collected here will find a place in their hearts.

 

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