INDIA: Bengali Literature is a realm that traverses the bounds of Rabindranath Tagore’s verses and stories to the land of historical fantasies, memoirs, detective novels and satires.
Some of the essential books in Bengali Literature sprout from the margins, documenting the plights of the unfortunate trying to fit into a society characterised by fast societal alterations.
Here are some of the most notable authors who have etched a mark in the grand mosaic of Bengali Literature through their narrating style, poetic verses and richness of themes.
Notable authors of Bengali literature
Bibhutibhushan, Tarashankar and Manik worked in close harmony on the genre of Bengali fiction. Pather Pachali (The Song of the Road), published in 1929, was later adapted into an Oscar-winning film by Satyajit Ray. This book was Bibhutibhushan’s first work and one of the most ethereal reads in Bengali Literature.
Based in a Bengali village named Nischindipur, the story revolves around the lives of an itinerant priest, the housewife mother and two children highlighting the plights of a typical rural Bengali household and then the changes that are seen in the city of Benares. Every character in the novel has their voice and distinct characteristics that make them so unique within the story and also outside of it.
Manik, born on May 19, 1908, has written 42 novels and more than 200 short stories and is known as the father of modern Bengali fiction. His novel Padma Nadir Majhi (The Boatman on the Padma) tells the story of nature’s intensity in a fisherman’s life that focuses on the inner chain of thoughts of the human mind replete with spite and passion.
Known by his literary pseudonym, Chitra Gupta, Satinath Bhaduri received the first Rabindra Puraskar in 1950 for his book Jagari (The Vigil). The book depicts the story during the freedom movement and the story of four members of the family who are also convicts in a jail narrating the same story of political mishap and the institution of the family. The Vigil showcases the story as an unsentimental, graphic narrative.
Being one of the most iconic women writers of the late 20th and early 21st century, Mahasweta Devi received the Jnanpith Award in 1996 and the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1997.
Her famous book Hajar Churashir Ma (1084’s Mother) is set in the prime of the armed political movement that affected Bengal in the 1970s. That revolves around the life of the mother who is informed of her son’s death, who was identified as No. 1084 by the morgue people. The mother is left heartbroken and desperate to find the truth by amalgamating the stories together one year following his demise.
Nabarun Bhattacharya, Mahasweta Devi’s son, gave up his career as a journalist to become a full-time writer. Herbert, a novel by Nabarun, is an anti-novel telling the story of a middle-class urban outcast named Herbert Sarkar that traces the events that lead up to his death and stresses Calcutta’s history and sociology.
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