library of bangladesh series: syed shamsul haq
new issue
- by Syed Shamsul Haq
Translated by Saugata Ghosh, Series Edited by Arunava Sinha

The inaugural batch of Dhaka Translation Center's 'Library of Bangladesh' series consists of a collection of short stories by Hasan Azizul Huq, translated by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay and two novellas by Syed Shamsul Haq, translated by Saugata Ghosh. The Library of Bangladesh series has been conceived and created by Dhaka Translation Center (DTC) at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) to make works by leading Bangladeshi writers accessible to world audiences in high-quality translations. The series is being edited by award-winning translator Arunava Sinha and published by Bengal Lights Books.

Bangladesh 1971. Burnt and destroyed. Like a crematorium. Piles of corpses. Torture cells. Barbarian Pak army versus helpless Bengali common people. Syed Shamsul Haq’s two novellas are breathing, glaring bystanders of the war.

In ‘Blue Venom,’ a middle-aged employee of a private firm is arrested on the morning of 27th March and taken to a torture cell. There, he is tortured slowly to death – only for being a namesake of the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Not only the viciousness of the captors but also their ignorance lies exposed.

In ‘Forbidden Incense,’ a woman returns to her paternal village after her journalist husband has been made to disappear on the night of the 25th of March. Here she meets a boy with a Muslim name – his entire family has been killed by the Pakistani army. The village has turned into a slaughterhouse. They are caught while gathering the corpses scattered everywhere to give them a decent burial. National and personal histories mingle.

Syed Shamsul Haq's flowing depiction of 1971 through the living language of these two novellas make readers who haven’t witnessed the war relive the terror and disgust of the sufferers.

Syed Shamsul Haq is an eminent Bangladeshi poet and writer. He was born in Kurigram in 1935. A versatile wordsmith working across forms – novels, short fiction, poetry, verse plays, essays and translations – he is the youngest writer in Bangladesh to be honoured with the Bangla Academy Award, at the age of 29. He has also received the Ekushey Podok, the National Poetry Award and many other literary prizes. His works are part of the school and college curricula in Bangladesh.

Saugata Ghosh works as an analytics professional and a writer/translator. His stories and translations have been featured in leading Indian dailies and in World Literature Today. His published translations include The Deer Hunt (selected poems of Jibanananda Das), Kalkut’s Shamba and Samaresh Basu’s BT Road/The Hollow. He lives and writes in Gurgaon, India.

Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and nonfiction into English, teaches literature in translation, and runs translation workshops. More than thirty of his translations have been published so far. He was born and grew up in Kolkata, and lives and writes in New Delhi, India.

was published in November 2018
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