Since 1971 Bangladesh has come across through different political phases. The country became free, but in no sphere it could behave like a free country after the independence. Everywhere there were hopelessness and frustration. All the utopian dreams became shattered. On August 15, 1975 the father of the nation was assassinated by some undisciplined military officers and a black sheet encircled the whole nation. For long fourteen years there came, to speak true, little change. After nine years’ demand for democracy the nation got the taste of it in 1990.
After the liberation war the trend which mostly grasps the novels of Bangladesh was to take the freedom fight as a unique subject. The first of this discipline is Anwar Pasha’s Rifle Roti Awrat (1973) which he wrote during the war. The novels which directly deal freedom fight as their subject are Shaukat Osman’s Jahannam Hoite Bidai (1971), Nekre Aranyo (1973) Dui Soinik (1973), Rashid Haider’s Khanchai (1975), and Andha Kathamala (1982), Shawkat Ali’s Jatraa (1976), Selina Hossain’s Hangor Nodi Granade (1976), Mahmudul Huq’s Jiban Aamar Bone (1976), Syed Shamsul Huq’s Nil Dangshon (1981) and Nishiddho Loban (1981), Harun Habib’s Priyo Joddha Priyotoma (1982) etc. Novels like Amar Jato Glani (1973) by Rashid Karim, Ferari Surya (1974) by Rabeya Khatun, Abelay Ashamoy (1975) by Amjad Hossain also portray the different facets of our liberation war. Some writers have also handled the hopeless picture of Bangladesh in their novels. Rashid Karim’s Prem Ekti Lal Golap (1978), Ekaler Rupkatha (1980) or Sadharon Loker Kahini (1982) are better presentation of this milieu. Critics say that though after the liberation huge number of novels was written about our war, none of them could depict the historic incident in necessary epic form.
Most of the writers who were contributing in the pre-liberation period were also very creative in this period. Among them Rashid Karim is the most prolific one. In his novels middle-class society and their societal and psychological analysis are mostly focused. Another prolific one is Alauddin Al-Azad whose first novel after the independence came out in 1986 and within some ten years he wrote about sixteen novels, though in none of them he could penetrate his readership as he could by his earlier novels. Syed Shamsul Huq is also a prolific and noteworthy writer. Along with a huge number of books of other genres he wrote a good number of novels also. He is always very experimental in both technique and form, Khelaram Khele Ja (1973) placed him in great controversy for his open delineation of human sexual behaviour. Liberation war, its consequences, hopeless human existence and analysis of human mind and society take sharp pen-picture in his novels. Duratwa (1981), Mahashunye Paran Master (1982), Ek Juboker Chhayapath (1987) etc. are his praiseworthy works. Another powerful writer Shawkat Ali wrote Prodoshe Praakritajon (1984), which is a real representation of the Bangla of twelve century during King Laksman Sen. His trilogy Dakshinayaner Din (1985), Kulaya Kalasrot (1986) and Purbaratri Purbadin (1986) also deserve much compliment. Razia Khan and Dilara Hashim are also by now very popular novelists. Another major novelist who wrote Anur Pathshala before liberation war in 1967 is Mahmudul Haque. As an introvert one, he is always less productive. Excluding Nirapad Tandra (1974), he wrote Khelaghar (written 1978, published 1988), Kalo Baraf (written in 1977, published in 1992), and Matir Jahaj (written in 1977, published in 1996). Ahmad Sofa, the junior most among this group has been writing novels with different tone. In Onkar (1975) he delineated the suppressed Bangali mind of the pre-liberation period in a very artistic and symbolic description, whereas in Gaavi Brityanto (1994) he presents the contemporary picture in a meticulous allegory. His Ardhek Nari Ardhek Ishwari (1996) is a novel of romantic love and Pushpa Briksha Ebong Bihanga Puran (1996) is a narration of true human affinity to nature i.e. to birds, trees etc.
In the first decade after the liberation a few new faces appeared in the domain of our novels among which Selina Hossain (b 1947) is the most prominent one. She started with Jalochchhwas (1972) and till now she has authored more than twenty-one novels most of which may demand our attention. Her Hangor Nodi Granade (1976) is a success written on our liberation war. She has written novels like Taanaporen (1994) on coastal life and natural disaster. In the historical novels she also roams very aptly from recent present to remote past. Gayatree Sondhya (3 volumes: published in, 1994, 1995, 1996), Kalketu O Fullora (1992), or Chandbene (1984) are a few to cite here. On the other hand when the popular novelist Humayun Ahmed (b 1948) wrote Nondito Naroke (1972) and Shankhaneel Karagar (1973), it sounded very novel to Bangali readership. Though gradually he turned to less serious things, his popular titles are Eka Eka (1984), 1971 (1985), Brihonnola (1989), Joyjoyonti (1994), Kobi (1996), Shuvro (2000) etc. A serious poet, essayist and literary researcher Abdul Mannan Syed (b 1943) published is first novel Pariprekshter Dasdashi in 1974 which was later on followed by Kolkata (1980), Poramatir Kaaj (1982), O Te Ojogor (1982), Hei Songsar Hei Lota (1982), Kshuda, Prem, Aagun (1994), Shyamoli Tomar Mukh (1997) etc. In the later years of the seventies we got Hasnat Abdul Hye (b 1939), though senior but arrived later. Suprabhat Bhalobasa (1977) was his first novel, which has reached twenty in number by now. Along with his other novels he has introduced a different form of novels called biographical. In this class his novels are Sultan (1991) Ekjon Aaroj Ali (1995) and Novera (1995) – all of which are based on the biographical sketches of giant Bangali characters. Rizia Rahman (b 1939) is also a favourite name. Starting with Uttar Purush which came in black and white in 1977, she wrote some fifteen novels in the eighties. Her voluminous Bong Theke Bangla (1987) is an epic composition about the past culture and heritage of our nation. Her other major novels are Rokter Okshor (1978), Alikhito Upakhyan (1980), Ekal Chirokal (1984), Prem Aamar Prem (1985), Ekti Phuler Jonyo (1986), Harun Phereni (1994) etc. Another senior writer who began his novelist career in this decade is Bashir al-Helal (b 1936). Only one novel by him Kalo Elish was published in 1979. His other novels include Gritokumari (1984), Shesh Panpatero (1986), Nurjahander Modhumas (1988) etc.
In the eighties we have got some senior writers also who wrote novels for the first time along with the promising young ones. Among the earlier writers Abubakar Siddique’s (b 1936), Jalarakshas (1985) and Kharadaha (1987) appeared with much novelty especially regarding their contents. In these two novels he has exposed the rude but true realities of our people during flood in Bagerhat-Khulna area (Jalarakshas) and during drought in northern districts (Kharadaha). His important later novel is Ekatturer Hridoybhashma (1997). Although Makbula Manjoor (b 1938) started in the late years of the sixties, most of her novels came out in the eighties and nineties. Kaler Mondira (1997) gave her many introductions to a great readership. Middle class city people, their joys and sorrows, love and separation are the core ideas of Rahat Khan’s (b 1940) novels. His significant works include Omol Dhabol Chakri (1982), Ek Priyodorshini (1983), Chhayadampoti (1984), Hae Shunyota (1984), Sangharsho (1984), Shahar (1984), Hae Anonter Pakhi (1989), Madhyamather Khelowar (1991) etc. Akhtaruzzaman Elias (1943-1997), one of the most artistic but least productive writers, launched his journey with Chilekothar Sepai (1987). His most prestigious work Khoabnama, which came out in 1996, is a milestone in the history of Bangla novels. In this decade another senior novelist Abu Ishaque’s second novel Padmar Palidwip (1986) was published after thirty-one years of his debut novel Surya-Dighal Bari. In this second one, as he did in his first novel, Abu Ishaque again proved his honesty and nearness to true literature. Appearance and disappearance of Chars (strip of sandy land), their effect on nearby humanity etc. have taken a keen narration in Padmar Palidwip. Haripada Datta (b 1947) is also a worthy name whose Ojogor (Vol. i-1989, Vol II-1991) chronicles the recent past history very remarkably. His previous novels are Eshane Ognidaho (1986) and Ondhokupe Janmothsob (1987). In 2000 he has written an epic volume titled Jonmo Jonmantor.
From the early years of this decade we felt the arrival of some young novelists who, later on, obtained enough popularity. Monju Sarkar (b 1953), Imdadul Haq Milon (b 1955) and Moinul Ahsan Saber (b 1958) are the few but most common names in this regard. Monju Sarkar’s Tamosh (1984), Nagno Agontuk (1986), Protima Upakhyan (1992) and Abashbhumi (1994), Imdadul Huq Milon’s Jabojjibon (written in 1976, published in 1900), Nodi Upakhyan (1985), Bhumiputro (1985), Kalakal (1985), Poradhinota (1985), Rupnagor (1988) Rajakartontro (1990), Moinul Ahsan Saber’s Adomer Jonye Opeksha (1986), Pathor Somoy (1989), Char Torun Toruni (1990), Manush Jekhane Jai Na (1990), Dharabahik Kahini (1992), Opeksha (1992), Kobej Lethel (1992), Tumi Amake Niye Jabe (1993) Prem O Protishodh (1993), Songsher Japon (1997) got much recognition from the literati. Meanwhile we got another powerful writer Shahidul Zahir (b 1953) although he never chased for trivial popularity. His first novel Jibon O Rajnoitic Bastobota was published in 1988 while his second, till now the last, She Rate Purnima Chhilo came out in 1995. Magic realism, which is a recent trend of the Latin American novels, takes place in Shahidul Zahir’s narration. His language and presentation are very similar to that of the novels of Marquez and other Latin American writers.
The last decade of twentieth century is comparatively fruitful for Bangladeshi novels. To mention a few, we have got Al Mahmud’s (b 1936) novelistic exposition, Bipradas Barua’s (b 1940) Buddhist life, Humayun Azad’s (b 1947) brave creations, Akimun Rahman’s (b 1959) novels about womanhood, as well as Nasreen Jahan’s (b 1964) novels of magic realism. Shamsuddin Abul Kalam’s historic work Kanchongram was also published in 1997 in this decade. Syed Samsul Huq’s masterpiece Bristi O Bidrohigon, published in 1998, is a milestone on our past heritage and liberation war.
Senior poet Al Mahmud’s debut novel Dahuki came out in 1992 which was followed by Kobi O Kolahol (1993), Upamohadesh (1993), Kabiler Bone (1993), Purush Sundor (1994), Nishinda Nari (1994) etc. Though Bipradas Barua began his novelist career in 1975 with his debut novel Ochena, his formidable novels were published during this decade. His major novels are Somudrochar O Bidrohira (1990), Muktijoddhara (1991), Shramon Goutam (1996) etc. Humayun Azad commenced his novelist carrier with Chhappanno Hajar Bargamile in 1994, which was a courageous slap on martial law and dictatorship. In no time the novel brought its writer much name and popularity. Humayun Azad’s creativity was reproved in his following novels like Sab Kichhu Bhenge Pare (1995), Subhabrata, Tar Samparkita Susamachar (1997), Rajnitibidgon (1998) etc. Mohammad Nurul Huda (b 1949), mostly acclaimed as a poet, had also two attempts in this period. Janmajati (1994) and Moinpahar (1995) not make any third attempt. Another less productive writer ventilated his capacity in writing novels, but sorrowfully he did is Akimun Rahman. She has by now written only two novels: Purusher Prithibite Ek Meye (1997) and Raktapunje Genthe Jawya Machhi (1999). She is the first novelist ever in Bangla language in whose writing the untold and unknown secrets of womanhood are getting tongue. The other significant writer of the decade is Nasreen Jahan. Her first novel Urukku (1993) arrived with much appreciation. She manipulated the elements of magic realism in her novels. In this regard her well-known novels are Chandrer Prothom Kola (1994), Chandralekhar Jaadubistar (1995), Sonali Mukhosh (1996), Ure Jai Nishipakshi (1999) etc. Meanwhile Anisul Huq (b 1965) has established himself as a popular writer. His Andhokarer Ekshaw Bachhar (1995) presented him a very honourable place but in no other novel he could revive that honour. Imtiar Shamim (b 1965) is also a young but promising name for novels of recent Bangladesh. In Dana Kata Himer Bhetor (1996) he presented a NGO-world. His Amra Hetechhi Jara (2000) encompassed a very touching story of the sorry saga of post-independence Bangladesh life. Along with all the above ones Sushanta Majumder’s (b 1954) Garam Hath (1995), Salam Saleh Uddin’s (b 1965) Chhayashorir (1998) are very careful efforts.
When Bangla novel turns one hundred and fifty years, novels of Bangladesh falls fifty years back. It is true that in its history of about one hundred years novels of Bangladesh could not reach the standard of world novels, but we must agree that we have got a good number of novels where creative emancipation of the writers has been established.
- 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.