Tasting local flavours in China
Tasting local flavours in China

Sanjukta Sharma laments the cold treatment that The Black Coat, a novel by Bangladeshi-Canadian author Neamat Imam, has received in his own country, Bangladesh

Recently, I was part of a chain mail with colleagues and writers about the grouses of Bangladeshi-Canadian author Neamat Imam. His polemical, Orwellian first novel The Black Coat has had little support in Dhaka so far. Imam believes reviews of the book have been suppressed in his country because it is a satire about the regime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, leader of the Awami League now in power. Mujib led Bangladesh to independence from Pakistan in 1971. He is regarded as Bangladesh’s founding father, and the current prime minister Sheikh Hasina is his daughter. Mujib switched from parliamentary to a presidential governance, but his socialist zeal made him the hero, the Bangabandhu, that the new nation wanted. The euphoria soon waned. In its formative years, debilitating poverty and unemployment crippled Bangladesh. A famine in 1974 left tens of thousands dead.

the black coatA powerful fictional revisiting of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s troubled legacy in Bangladesh

This is probably the strangest English novel to come out of Bangladesh—one that employs a dispassionate, journalistic voice telling an utterly surreal story to convey the anger and pain that the betrayal of hopes leads to. Bangladeshi-Canadian writer Neamat Imam turns the horrifying reality of the famine that followed the country’s independence from Pakistan—which all but undid the expectations that freedom had brought with it—into an absurdist theatre of the privileged and the victims. In the process, he also challenges the notion of the golden age that prevailed for at least one generation in Bangladesh about the independence of the country in 1971 and its aftermath.

Obsessive, tender, outraged, playful—Victoria Chang’s virtuosic third collection The Boss is a mesmerizing exploration of contemporary American culture, power structures, family life, and ethnic and personal identity.

McSweeney’s: How did you first become interested in poetry?

Victoria Chang: I think my elementary school teachers introduced me to poetry and we had little poetry contests where everyone won 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. I wrote these tiny poems and enjoyed trying to create surprise endings.

A Passage to LondonSachidananda Mohanty reviews A Passage to London and Other Indian Tales by M K Naik. 

Despite the Arnoldian desire to bring together the creative and the critical temper epochs, criticism and creativity seldom seem to mingle, especially in the contemporary world.

There are notable exceptions of course: S.T. Coleridge, T.S. Eliot, Matthew Arnold and Virginia Woolf, among others. Nearer home, in post-independence India, eminent critics such as P. Lal and K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar have tried their hand at poetry and translation.

Escape from North KoreaFor a stateconsidered a charter member of the so-called “Axis of Evil”, North Korea never seems to remain the center of global attention for long. It is one of the places that the average person (or indeed, almost anyone) really knowsnothing about: we don’t know how its government makes decisions, we don’t know the motivations of its leaders or, perhaps most importantly, how its people really live.

If you’ve got an author website, you know how important it is to have great text for it—but it’s not going to hold anyone’s attention if you’ve just got a wall of words on your home page! It’s important to have eye-catching images to go along with your text. Here are the five elements that make for great pictures on your site:

Most importantly, the pictures you include must have a good reason for being there. Make sure they’re relevant to the topic being discussed in your text and that they add something to the overall meaning of it. That means no dancing babies (unless your text is about annoying, overdone animations from the mid-to-late ’90s). The bottom line is: Don’t choose an image just because it’s fun, amusing, or shocking; make sure it works for your visual branding.

July 31, Premchand’s birth anniversary, leads the author to wonder why one of India’s most celebrated writers has been forgotten by urban readers today.

Many pensive pauses, edits and deletions later, I think it is best to start an essay about Munshi Premchand the way he would have — by stating the truth as it is. And the truth is, however unkind it may be, — as those loving him, his writing and his literary philosophy will attest — that he, one of the brightest lights in the horizon of Indian prose, stands eclipsed if not forgotten by the urbane Indian fiction readers of today.