New releases from Bengal Publications
Talent is hardly scarce in Bangladesh, and it has been manifesting in the form of excellent art and literature over decades now. The practice of writing creatively in English, however new, has picked up pace and, with the help of local publishing houses, young authors are being able to platform their abilities. Bengal Publications, the publications arm of Bengal Foundation, has launched such four books during Hay Festival, this November. A novel, a photo-essay, a collection of children’s stories and an anthology of short fiction, the texts are diverse to say the least. Each book explores a different kind of world and shows a different perspective of Bangladesh.
Tiger, Tiger and Other Short Stories is a collection of fables with a flavour of Bangladesh. Sanjana Sadique makes her debut with endearing shorts featuring young protagonists, all of which have a common thread running through them. Morals, being the core of fables, are the shared element tying these stories together. A tale about sharing, a baby crocodile overcoming fear, learning to empathise are some among many of the delightful, little narratives that Sadique weave together.
Sanjana Sadique graduated in Law from University of Westminster, UK. Sadique discovered that she had a passion to write children’s literature by accident. When one frustrated afternoon she opened Microsoft Word, out poured a story about a little squirrel who lost his way in the woods. On discovering that she had a knack she undertook a few courses in fiction writing at The Writer’s Centre in Washington D.C. Sadique says that she writes for children because she wants to promote reading amongst them. Moreover she also wants to provide a means of comfort to those lonely kids who find solace in books.
Javed Jahangir’s Ghost Alley tells the tale of oddball Ludo and his family. When his grandmother’s blind sister, Nadira, comes to visit the family, Ludo is forced to dig into his familial history. The twelve year old soon uncovers the past, tracing it back to 1940 when Dr. Salehuddin first meets his grandmother, Suraya, and Nadira. Suraya proves to be an ideal mate for the man, who wishes to create a Muslim nation. However, a childless marriage gives way for Nadira to take advantage of the situation. Eventually, after the India-Pakistan Partition in 1947, Dr. Salehuddin’s dreams of a free and united Muslim nation fade away under the oppressive rule of Pakistan. Meanwhile, back in present times, Nadira has everyone convinced that Suraya is possessed by Djinns and requires exorcism executed by a Pir. Ludo despairs over untold secrets that prevent his grandmother from getting the aid she needs, unaware that he himself is at risk.
Javed Jahangir, who has been featured in various publications including Smokelong Journal, LOST Magazine, LUMINA (Sarah SSR Lawrence College), Bengal Lights Journal, is a founding member of Beyondthemargins.com, a website of daily literary essays. He has contributed to, and been editor-in-chief for The Grub Street Writers’ 10 year Anthology and has also been a reader for the Harvard Review.
This Old World is a photoessay that illustrates a well travelled route across Euroasia, capturing decades’ worth of history. Zeeshan Khan has compiled a culturally rich portfolio decorated with literature and philosophy from along the places of the route. Khan maps history back to before 10,000 BC and provides a glimpse of the world that was.
Zeeshan Khan graduated in International Relations and International Trade from The University of Sydney. He has previously launched a book of poetry with Academic Press and Publishers and is a regular contributor for Dhaka Tribune. A journalist and a writer, Khan makes no claim of being a professional photographer, rather he thinks of it as a hobby. He thinks of the photographs in his books as a means to bring people closer to his experience. This Old World attempts to take readers along with it on his journey like a fellow passenger looking out of a bus window.
Neeman Sobhan writes some picturesque stories that showcase the stark differences between the lives of two classes of Bangladeshis living in Italy. Where the tales meet, they also branch off and lead to wistful memories, thus earning it the name Piazza Bangladesh. After her collection of personal reflections from Italy, ‘An Abiding City: Ruminations from Rome,’ Neeman Sobhan debuts in short fiction with this collection.
Neeman Ahmad Sobhan is a Bangladeshi expatriate living in Rome, Italy . She left for the U.S at the age of nineteen. She did her B.A and M.A in Comparative and English Literature from the University of Maryland in the U.S. She lives with her husband and two sons, and is working as a journalist and columnist at the moment.
With an array of varied genres, Bengal Publications had plenty of quality material for interested readers. The Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, on its fourth outing in Bangladesh, was the perfect milieu to set the mood for the launch of these four intriguing books. If you haven’t had the chance to go, be sure to pick up one of these books from outlets such as Aranya, Bengal Art Lounge, Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts and Daily Star- Bengal Arts Precinct.