-Subrata Kumar Das
Bangladesh’s novelists have enriched our country with hundreds of thousands of novels ever since 1947 or the early 1920s. From the early decades we got a good number of geniuses. After the liberation war in 1971, the number of novels per excellence began to rise. Afterwards, the new century has brought many new faces in our fiction world. There have been the appearances of many old faces as well who did their first efforts in novels during these years. The decade also took away some of the very significant novelist for ever. But above all; the total scenario seems really very impressive as well as positive.
The literary stalwarts who passed away during the first years of the twenty first century included Ahmad Sofa (1934-2001), Abu Ishaque (1926-2003), Humayun Azad (1947-2004), Mahmudul Haque (1940-2008), Alauddin Al-Azad (1932-2009), Abdul Mannan Syed (1943-2010), Abu Rushd (1919-2010), Razia Khan (1936-2011), Rashid Karim (1925-2011) et al. The premature death of Sofa was a great shock for the whole literati while the brutal killing of Humayun Azad by the terrorists was more shocking to the whole nation along with the writing community of the whole world. Azad’s Pak Sar Jomin Sad Bad (2004), written on the bitchy attitude of the fanatic groups towards the religious minorities, created much tumult among the literati across the country. For his bravery and straight forwardness, Azad will be remembered by the Bengali readers for many forth coming decades. His stand against dogmatism made him well known to the outer world too.
The elderly writers coming forth with novels and drawing people’s attention include Hasan Azizul Haque (b.1939), the talented short story writer in Bangla language. His first novelistic attempt was Brittayan in 1991. His appearance with that novel brought less success but his Aagunpakhi (Firebirds) published in 2006 has crowned him with much fame. In the novel, the mastermind has tremendously portrayed the agonies caused by the separation of Bengal in 1947. Sazzad Qadir (b. 1947), a very elderly litterateur of the country, started writing novels at his sixties. He has by now published two including Ontorjaal (Internet, 2008) and Khei (Clue, 2011). It could be noted that they are different in nature and can be termed as information novel. Qadir accommodates huge and astounding information in his fiction and penetrates the readers to take the fiction as a replacement of essays too.
The other writer whose novels first came into lime light in this decade is Syed Monzoorul Islam (b. 1951). He has authored two novels including Adhkhana Manush (A Half Man, 2006) and Tin Porber Jibon (A Life of Three Phases, 2008). But the essayist whose identity as a novelist stoke the media very strongly is Harishankar Jaladas (b.1955). His debut novel Jalaputro (The Son of Water) published in 2008, created much tumult as a successor of Adwaita Mallabarman (1914-1951). His Dahankaal (The Time of Burning, 2010) has been as if a second part of his first novel. This newly appearing novelist wrote more two books that are simply masterpieces to cite. Kosbi (The Prostitute, 2011) and Ramgolam (2012) are really worthy Bangla novels to mention. Ramgolam, an epoch-making creation, based on the life and society of the outcastes, has hilariously been hailed by the readers.
Saleha Chowdhury (b. 1943) has by now authored a good number of novels along with books on other genres. Along with her Anand, Binni Dhaner Khoi, Mayurir Mukh, Shesh Marbela, Aniket Manab, Rupontir Sukh Dukkho, Zarakhan O Shreshtho Premik, Amrita Ke Ghirey. Muhurto, Ekjon Jushonarar Galpa she wrote her magnum opus Britain Ekti Dwip (Britain is an Island) in 2009 that gives a very meticulous description of the London life of the expatriate Bangladeshi people. Kamal Rahman (b. 1955), another expatriate one, has poured two research-based novels including Tajtandury (2011), Jhumpahar (2012) of great height. Sezan Mahmud (b. 1967), an expatriate fictionist has been contributing for the last decade though recently his novels Ognibalak (2009) rewarded him with much recognition. In 2012 he has published Leethi, another significant novel to mention.
Among the elderly writers who have endured very energetic and active, Hasnat Abdul Hye (b.1939) could be named as the top most one. A novelist and short story writer of reputation, Hye embarked on a different genre in our novel. His biographical novels include Mahapurush (1982) in which the writer created a single character, a fictitious one, named Syed Belal. Afterwards, he began sketching real and well-known personalities like Aaraj Ali Matubbar, S M Sultan and Novera in his novels Sultan (1991), Ekjon Aaroj Ali (1995) and Novera (1995). In 2012 he has written the fifth in this trend naming Loraku Potua (The Painter Fighting) based on the life of the eminent Bangladeshi artist Kamrul Hasan. Another very serious, sincere and hard-working writer of the country is Bipradash Barua (b.1940). A very potential one in fiction and non-fiction Barua wrote Kalonodi (Black River) in 2011 where the story is set in Bangladesh and Japan. Before that he wrote a novel Oshru O Aguner Nodi (A River of Tears and Fire) which demonstrated the breath-taking incidents occurring in Bangladesh after the Parliament Election of 2001. In this connection it could be noted that the barbaric scenario that election resulted production of some more novels with special clarity and vividness. Mohsin Habib’s (b. 1965) Kukurer Kanna Sona Jai (The Barks are Heard, 2002) and Salam Azad’s (b. 1964) Bhanga Moth (The Broken Temple, 2004) were brave literary accomplishments.
Selina Hossain (b. 1947) presented Jamuna Nodir Mushaira (Poetry on the River Jamuna), based on the life of Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) in 2011. On the other hand, Humayun Ahmed (b.1948), the most prolific fictionist Bangla language has ever got was as productive as the earlier decades. In the new millennium, he has presented many new volumes for his readers like Joshna O Jononir Golpo (2004), Lilaboti (2005), Modhyanho (2008). In 2011, he came forth with a novel of historical interest named Badshah Namdar. Another novelist of the popular genre is Imdadul Haq Milan (b.1955) whose Noorjahan created unfathomable interest in 1995 when the first volume was published. The second volume of this magnum opus of Milon came in 2002 followed by the last volume in 2011. Another major novel of the decade by Milon, Jibonpur came in 2009.
A renowned feminist writer Akimun Rahman (b. 1959), debuted with Purusher Prithibite Ek Meye (The Lone Lady in Men’s World) in 1997 where she sketched the very personal life of a Bengali Muslim woman and thus initiated picturization of a new world. Afterwards, she published Raktapunje Genthe Jawya Machhi (A Fly Drowned in Blood and Pus) in 1999 with similar social contexts followed by Joboner Roudre Urechhilo Koyekti Dhulikona reached the readers in 2004. Her recent novel includes Jokhon Ghashera Aamar Cheye Boro (2008). Nasreen Jahan (b.1964), the most successful novelist of magic realistic genre, got huge reputation during the last years of the 1990s. In the new century she has been contributing with her new creations one after another. Her Shongkhonortoki (2003), Mrityushokhigon (2006), or Kobojkundola (2012) are worth mentioning. Samanta, published in 2005 is an excellent depiction of the degrading city youths for drug addiction. The author of She (The Person, 2002) and Maa (Mother, 2003), Anisul Huq (b.1965) has bagged the Bangla Academy Award for 2011 for his overall contribution. In 2012 his Jara Bhor Enechhilo (The People Who Brought the Dawn) got much audience. Chanchal Shahriar (b. 1966), a novelist of commonplace feelings and ideas has by now produced novels like Din Jai Tanaporener Din (Thus Goes the Day of Hardship, 1998), Eisob Valobasa Michhe Noi (All These Loves are not False, 2000), Meye Tumi Ki Dukkho Bojho (Hei Girl, You Know My Sorrows, 2012).
The twelve years of the new century produced many youth novelists with genius. In this context the name of Ahmad Mostofa Kamal (b. 1969) could be the most exciting to cite. His first novel Agontuk (The New Comer) was published in 2002. After seven years his second novel came out and became able to bag some prizes. Ondho Jadukor (The Blind Magician, 2009) was really a good read followed by KannaPorbo (Ballad of Tears, 2012) and Porompora (Reciprocal, 2012). KannaPorbo is capable to overwhelm any reader for its treatment of a social phenomenon and usage of narrative technique. The next writer who poses a sort of craze to the youth literary activists is Zakir Talukder (b. 1965). In 2002 he started his novelistic carrier with Kursinama (2002) which was followed by Hante Thaka Manusher Gaan (The Songs of the Walking People, 2006), Bohiragoto (The Outsiders, 2008) and Musolmanmongol (2009). His recent novel Pitrigon (The Forefathers, 2011), and Kobi O Kamini (The Poet and the Woman, 2012) are the sincere experiments by a this powerful youth writer. From the women folk Papri Rahman (b. 1964) has come forth with much strength and fervour. She has authored three novels by now such as Pora Nodir Swopno Puran (2004), Boyon (2008) and Palatia (2011). Masuda Bhatti (b.1973), another formidable female voice started with JibonerBhognagsho (The Small Parts of Life) which was followed by Poriyaji Mon (2003), Nodi Ekhono Neel (2005), Botpakurer Upakhyan (2011) etc. In 2007, her novel Torobarir Chhayatole (Under the Shade of a Sword) created much controversy.
The novels of Mahmood Nasir Jahangiri (b. 1959), Imtiar Shamim (b. 1965), Hamid Kaiser (b. 1966), Hamim Kamrul Haque (b. 1973) have also brought much appraisal for the readers. Jahangiri wrote a very powerful novel in the year 2002 named Kahat Kahor Shal (Famine Year). Along with his former novels naming Dana Kata Himer Bhetor (1996) and Amra Hete Chhi Jara (2000), the novels Imtiar has composed during the recent days include Ondho Meyeti Josna Dekhar Por, Chorsongbeg etc. In the recent book fair his novel Mrityugondhi Bikele Sushil Songitanusthan has raised new aspirations from his readers. Hamid Kaiser has illuminated a very special sort of novels in Bangladesh. He does not author the so-called travel-literature; rather his travel books have uplifted themselves as travel novels. Along with his novels like Titmou (2003) and Mon Bari Nei (My Mind is Away from Home, 2009) Hamid has written the new sort with Mohanondar Teere (On the Bank of the Mahananda, 2008) and Buker Vetore Ek Bon Achhe (There is a Forest in the Heart, 2012). Any reader will be able to discover a salient plot-development and characterisation in the last two novels by Hamid. The two novels that Hamim Kamrul Haque (b. 1973) has brought to light by now include Raatri Ekhono Joubone (The Night is Yet Youthful, 2008) and Goponiyotar Malikana (The Ownership of Secrecy, 2010).
Earlier Mamun Hussain (b. 1962) was mastering in writing short stories for long and for his especial narratology he has been a craze to the youth writing community. Very recently he has started novels as well with Necropolis in 2011 which was followed by Haspatal Bonganubad in 2012. Mamun has developed a special craftsmanship in which the story does not take the upper hand, rather many a feature of the plot crowd altogether. Shaheen Akhtar’s (b. 1962) debut novel Palabar Poth Nei (No Escape Route) could not drag much audience but Talaash (The Search) has been able, especially after its getting an award. Recently her Shokhi Rongomala (2010) has also has added more food for the fiction readers of the country. Mashiul Alam (b.1966) came forth with his novels Aami Sudhu Meyetike Banchate Cheyechi (I only Wanted to Save the Girl) in 1999 and Tonushrir Songe Dwitio Raat (The Second Night with Tonushri) in 2000. In the recent decade his pen produced Ghora Masud (Horse Masud, 2004), Baba (Father, 2009) and Dui No Haspatal (Hospital No 2, 2011). Mojib Erom (b. 1969) has by now written only one novel Mayapeer (2009) with new insight and novel language. No doubt the way he narrates his story in Mayapeer is unusual in our language. Prasanta Mridha’s (b. 1971) novella Mrityur Aage Mati (Soil before Death, 2002) was a very heart-felt story of the minorities leaving for India. In 2012, his novel Rupkumar O Horbola Sundorir Osomapto Pala has come out. Sk. Almamun (b. 1973), a very powerful novelist of the decade has brought only one novel named Nuhuler Monchitro (The Mindmap of Nuhul, 2008). Samir Ahmed (b. 1973) debuted with his novel Mora Kotaler Josna (2002) and bagged an award but sorrowfully after that has remained silent for long. Poet Reza Ghatak (b. 1970) has emerged with a novel Maa in the 2012 book fair. As a fictionist Swakrita Noman (b. 1980) has already begun to draw the attention of the critics too. His novels include Naavi (The Naval, 2008), Dhupkushi (2009), Joleswar (The Water God, 2010), Raajnoti (The Royal Woman, 2011), Begana (Non-relative, 2012). His Raajnoti has brought much fame for the youth novelist.
There are some more names to utter with pride, no doubt. Many of them write well, but get little recognition. Wasi Ahmed, a good example among those, wrote Meghapahar (The Cloud Hill) and Roudro O Chhayar Noksha (A Sketch of Sunshine and Shade). His recent endeavor is Shitpakhira (2011) has added some more new readers. Selim Mozahar, the promising writer debuted with Jachhnar Angule Trital (2000) but did not attempt any second novel till date.
Everyone will admit that there have many novels written along with the above ones. Some novels emphasise on lofty themes, some on craftsmanship. But there are some novels too that exhibit the manipulation of both. Some novels got acquaintance for media coverage, some for their inner merit. And we will find only the novels will stand the test that come up with their literary values.
- Bangla Academy Charitabhidhan, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, Second Enlarged Edition, 1997
- Bangla Academy Lekhask Abhidhan, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1998
- Bangla Uponyase Chitrita Jiban O Somaj, Sudhamoy Das, Dhaka, 1995
- Purba O Pashchim Banglar Uponyas, Shahida Akter,Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1992
- Bangladesher Uponyase Char Dosok, Kalyan Mirbar,Kolkata, 1992
- Amader Uponayse Bisoy Chetona : Bivagottor Kal,Muhammad Idris Ali, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1988
- Bangladesher Koyekjon Ouponyashik, Subrata Kumar Das, Suchipatra, 2005
- Bangla Kotha Sahitya: Jadubastobata ebong Onyanyo, Subrata Kumar Das, Oitijjyo, 2002.