Tag Archives: Bengali literature

Book Excerpt: That Bird Called Happiness by Nabendu Ghosh

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Title: That Bird Called Happiness

Author: Nabendu Ghosh

Edited by Ratnottama Sengupta

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Year of Publication: 2018

‘You are right, Banerjee, about karun too being an emotion worth dwelling upon,’ Rao said. Then he cleared his throat to go on.

‘Raso vai sah … the name of God, just like God, is filled with rasa, our shastras maintain. But to be able to view it as such we need a certain objectivity; and most of us don’t have that. Which is why tragic incidents spell only sadness in our lives, they seldom transcend to the level of a tragic observation. If we had a heightened sense of objectivity, the entire world would appear to be a vast stage where countless dramas are being incessantly played out. These dramas are not enacted as per the rules of Bharata’s Natya Shastra. The thunderbolts here do strike from the heavens…’

‘Why don’t you cut short your preface?’ Nimbalkar cut in. ‘I will do that.’ Rao nodded with a smile. ‘But allow me to add one more observation before I start. What was the reason for me to fall sick and stop in Pandukeshwar for a rest? Was there a purpose in my coming across the dead body of Shiv Shankar Pillai after twenty years?’ Read more

More Gems from Satyajit Ray

 

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Some books by Satyajit Ray that have been  translated from Bengali to English

Five unpublished creations of the acclaimed maestro Satyajit Ray will be brought to light next year by Penguin.

The much acclaimed and awarded film-maker, screenwriter, author, lyricist, music composer and graphic artist, has been the sole recipient from India of an honorary Academy Award (Oscar) in “recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world”  (1991).

With recognition streaming in from across the world, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, Satyajit Ray has been a multi-faceted persona in the world of literature and films. Many of us grew up with his unique stories, in Bengali or translated, long or short, some bordering on science fiction, some on mysteries and some on political and social drama. A report in The Hindu  tells us more about his forthcoming publications.

Please read on…

 

 

 

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Rickshaw puller from Kolkata steals show at 11th Jaipur Literature Festival

At the end of the journey, the passenger asked Byapari if he would be interested in writing his story, giving him a piece of paper with her name and address. The name on that piece of paper was Mahasweta Devi.

A word changed the life of Manoranjan Byapari. A rickshaw-puller in the chaotic streets of Kolkata, Byapari one day asked a passenger the meaning of the Bengali word jijibisha. He thought the sari-clad passenger, who hailed his rickshaw near a college, must be a professor. “It means ‘the will to live’,” said the bemused passenger, beginning a conversation in the carriage. “Where did you get the word from?” the passenger asked. “From a book,” the rickshaw-puller replied, prompting the passenger to know how far he had studied. Byapari didn’t hide the fact that he hadn’t gone to school and was self-taught. At the end of the journey, the passenger asked Byapari if he would be interested in writing his story, giving him a piece of paper with her name and address. The name on that piece of paper was Mahasweta Devi. “I was shocked to learn that my passenger was one of the most famous writers in Kolkata,” recounts Byapari about the incident nearly four decades ago that changed his life. Adding to the quirk of fate on that day was a book of Devi, a collection of short stories titled Agnigarbha, which was kept under the seat of the rickshaw. “She was happy that I was reading her book,” says Byapari, who spent the next few weeks struggling to write his story. He finally wrote 20 pages and handed them over to Devi. Byapari’s story appeared in early 1981 in Bartika, a Bengali magazine published by Devi. It was titled I Drive a Rickshaw. On January 25, the opening day of this year’s ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, Byapari’s journey, from being a rickshaw-puller to a writer, added great freshness to the event’s fabled narrative. Now an author of nine novels and several short stories, Byapari talked to a packed audience at the gilded Durbar Hall venue of the festival about his autobiographical novel, Itibritte Chandal Jiban, now available in English as Interrogating My Chandal Life: An Autobiography of a Dalit. “It’s not literature,” Byapari told his audience. “It’s truth.” Author Namita Gokhale, one of the directors of the festival responsible for selecting Indian writers for the event, describes Byapari’s life as an ‘incredible’ story. “It’s incredible how he met Mahasweta Devi while pulling a rickshaw in Kolkata,” Gokhale says. Born in Barisal district of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1950, Byapari lived in a refugee camp in West Bengal as a young boy after his parents decided to migrate to India three years later. He worked in dhabas, washed plates and became a revolutionary, something that landed him in jail. It was in a prison in Kolkata where he learned to read, which would prove to be a life-changing decision.

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Book Review: Second Encounter by Ramapada Chowdhury

By Parvathi Ramkumar

An unforgotten old romance is rekindled and fading dreams are revived in Ramapada Chowdhury’s novella Second Encounter. Originally published in Bengali as Je Jekhane Danriye, and translated into English by Swapna Dutta, the slim book follows Anupam, a professor, and his sudden, unexpected encounter with his old flame, Anjali. There are feelings between them that have remained unresolved, but in the two decades since their last encounter, families, spouses and children have all changed their lives.

When the novella opens, Anupam is on a holiday in Musabani, a mining town. Far removed from the cares of bustling Calcutta, Anupam finds Musabani idyllic, but is soon confused when he meets a woman at the weekly market. The woman in question is Anjali, someone he’d known as a teenager, a woman he’d been besotted with. A misunderstanding, it is given to understand, led Anupam and Anjali to go their separate ways… but whatever feelings they’d shared have remained, as they discover. Many of the characters in Second Encounter are quickly introduced right at the beginning of the book. Read more

Source: Deccan Herald 

 

Book Review: Orpheus in Kolkata by Joe Winter

By Lakshmi Menon

kolkataOrpheus in Kolkata opens with its titular poem, and there can be no better introduction to the poetry of Joe Winter, or to this collection.

Kolkata is presented as every note from the seven strings of a divine veena, carried by the musician best known for the tragic beauty of his playing, Orpheus himself. Each string is a section of the city; the para and its nest of roads, the Esplanade and the heart of the city, and the quiet of Jorasanko Thakur-bari, where Tagore the master musician lived and wrote. Orpheus hears the music of the city, plays the music of the city; and in Kolkata, Winter sees the heart of an “India of old”. The myth of Orpheus can be seen as what links this collection of poetry together. Like the myth of the man who could not gaze back on his love to keep her, there is the ceaseless movement of time, the change that time brings, and the constant reminder that one cannot return to the past. As a translator of some of the stalwarts of Bengali poetry, Jibanananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore, Winter is no stranger to the city or its people. In his poetry, Winter takes us on journeys into Kolkata and its psyche, and to the world beyond.

The other poems in the collection flicker from the intimate to the quotidian, all bound by different strings, like Orpheus and his veena. This collection of poetry is more of a collection of remembrances, a constant journey linking past and present. A 125-year-old bookshop in Kolkata bridges that gap, while the death of a dear friend represents the time that has passed. Winter draws his inspiration from art, from literature, from the daily news. His scholarship is clear when he likens the world as it has become today, to Beowulf’s monsters, of a mankind changed from the heroic to the terrible in the space of “World News Headlines”.

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India: The cultural colonisation of Bengal and K’taka

Did you know Karnataka and Bengal share a deep-rooted literary bond? Neither did almost 800 Bengalis and 200 non-Bengalis who attended the three-day Bengali literature and cultural fest, held nearly after a decade in the city on December 25, to know that.

Ranjon Ghoshal, an engineer by profession and founding member of Bengali band Moheener Ghoraguli talked about the exchange of literature between Karnataka and Bengal since the 12th century. Ranjon is a literature and theatre enthusiast

He stated that the king who ruled Bengal and parts of Orissa in 1160 AD, Ballala Sen, hailed from the coastal region of Karnataka. Ballala Sen was a poet and literature flourished in Bengal during his reign. Ballala Sen authored two books Danasagara and Adbhutasagara. Read more

Source: New Indian Express

 

India: Following Bengal’s appetite for detective fiction

Over the years, West Bengal – or Bengal, as it was formerly known – has made rich contributions to the enormous treasure trove of Indian literature. Great novelists, short-story writers, poets and playwrights from the region have kept readers enthralled with their literary creations.

And while it has been a long-standing debate in literary circles all over the world as to whether the “detective story” can and should be allowed to rub shoulders with its more elitist cousins – namely the members of classical literature – there has evidently been no dearth of such stories in India, certainly not in Bengal.

In fact, it would not be incorrect to say that at one point of time, the Bengali detective story had reached a peak of popularity that few other novels could even dream of. Read more

Need to build an ecosystem to teach translated Indian literature in universities: Arunava Sinha 

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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

Bengali literature to be available as e-books

To keep pace with the changing modes used by modern readers and to reach out to those in far flung areas, city-based Mitra & Ghosh Publishers Private Limited is all set to make available Bengali e-books and offer audio book services.

To this end, the 80-year-old publishing house of the city has entered into a tie-up with IIT Kharagpur and Society for Natural Language Technology Research (SNLTR), director of the publishing house Indrani Roy told PTI.

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Bangladesh: Tales from the Maestro

Ahmed Rafiq is not only recognised for playing a central part in our language movement, he is also known as a distinguished writer and a prominent researcher on Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore and his literature. In 1995 he received the most prestigious award of our nation– the “Ekushe Podok”– for his outstanding contribution to Bengali literature, and the “Swadesh e Rabindra” from the Tagore research institute in Kolakata, in 2011. When it comes to dependable information on Tagore’s literature, he is one of the few people one can rely on.

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