Arunava Sinha’s ‘The Greatest Bengali Stories Ever Told’ comes with a caveat. In his introduction, he writes that the short stories in this collection have been chosen not according to literary canons or eras or any other form of “critical sieving”, but simply because these are stories that have loomed large in his life, and that he loves. Translated into English over a period of five years, the stories are ordered chronologically from Tagore’s ‘The Kabuliwala’ to Amar Mitra’s ‘Air and Water’ , and Sinha believes they act as a map, allowing a younger generation to rediscover and reconnect with a legacy of reading. We spoke about the continuance of the Bengali short story, about melancholy and being unambitious.
Excerpts from an interview:
You say you chose these stories because there’s a quality that haunts the characters, a sense of something missing. Why is this appealing to you?
I probably need to psychoanalyse myself for that but it resonates with something within me. It’s a very personal response but in some ways anybody who’s involved with writing, whether it’s your own work or translations, I think there’s always a seeking. I’m not trying to over-intellectualise it, but there’s always something out of your reach, and then there are certain aspects of my life that fit in with this whole business of looking and not finding. Read more