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Famous Literary Works from Northeast India

Literature is rooted in culture and tradition. The North East is a fertile ground for various traditions that have made their way to this zone along with tribes that brought such way of life along with them when they came here from various parts of Asia. Over 200 tribes and sub-sects inhabit the region. One would normally expect literature to go back several centuries but one must keep in mind that until as late as the 20th century, most of the traditions and stories were handed down by way of word of mouth. It is only in the past century that works of literature emerged from this region. Exceptions are regions like Assam that encompassed Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, where royal kingdoms flourished 1000 years ago and gave birth to legends like Kamarupa around the 10th century and Ramai Pundit in the 12th century. Boru Chandidas, Durllava Mullik and Bhavani Das left their footprints during the later periods. Clubbing the region as North East is a British leftover and indicates a bias whereas people here are highly individualistic and identify themselves with the region and with the tribe. However, the North East has spawned writers like Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya, a Jnanpith Award Winner and also a winner of the Sahitya Academy award, Dr Indira Goswami and others like Bhabananda Deka and others. There are hundreds of works of literature but a few are worthy of mention.

Deo Langkhui by Rita Chowdhury

Datal Hatir Unye Khuwa Howdah by Indira Goswami

M K Binodini Devi’s Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi

Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya’s Mrityunjaya

Shree Krishna Kirtana Kabya by Boru Chandidas

Burhi Aair Sadhu compiled by Lakshminath Bezbaruah

Mitra Phukan’s The Collector’s Wife

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India: ‘Culture of Peace’ literary festival on northeast concludes

‘Culture of Peace’, a literary festival celebrating the diverse and vivid cultures of northeast through writing, music, theatre, film and media, was recently held in New Delhi.

Organised under the initiative of ‘Zubaan’, an independent feminist publishing house, in collaboration with the Heinrich Boll Foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the festival aimed at bringing pertinent issues concerning the region to the forefront.

Contribution to the Indian literature by eminent writers from the northeastern region like Mitra Phukan, Bhabananda Deka, Dhruba Hazarika and Temsula Ao has been immense.

Distinguished writers, novelist, poets, journalists and academicians from all across the region gathered at the festival to share their opinions and discuss about the literature. Read more

Source: Business Standard


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Book Review: A Full Night’s Thievery by Mitra Phukan

By Manisha Lakhe

night

As with any book of short stories, one tends to open a story and allow the writer to steer you into worlds you have not experienced. Mitra Phukan’s A Full Night’s Thievery takes us to Assam, and gives us a glimpse into the lives of her characters filled with music. But when those worlds are described in ways where Indian words like aanchal, punkha walas, Krishnasura tree, aalna, deuta intrude upon the senses, then the story comes second. It’s all ambience. Only ambience.

The book blurb promises that “music is a hard taskmaster” and you want to experience that. The bleeding fingers, the pain of missing a beat in front of an audience, the ecstasy of hitting the right notes and the loneliness of the riyaaz, we want to feel it all. But the characters don’t seem to be real. They’re given to rants (“The Choice”) where a Rudra Veena player is attempting to tell himself why he’s giving away his instrument. And after a couple of pages you wish the damned instrument would break to make him stop whining. If you’ve started with that story (since it’s the first in the book), then it sounds the death knell to the book, doesn’t it?

But if you’re like me, you’ll seek out the title story which is about a thief. And when you have trampled through pointless descriptions of characters in the little town who have nothing to do with the plot of the story, you realise that you saw the end coming a mile away. And who uses words like “delicious bits” for breasts? It’s practically Victorian.

The stories are charming, if you are unfamiliar with Indian writing. But if you have read works of regional authors translated into English, or Indian writers writing in English, you will realise that this book suffers the same fate. The descriptions seem to be written for non-Indians. Take the coconut seller in the train. His method of chopping the tender coconuts or how he cuts them after the “sweet” water has been consumed for the delicious “cream” seems to be utterly needless because Indians know what a tender coconut is and how to consume it.

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