Updated: August 5, 2021 5:28:44 pm
Publishing house Westland on Friday announced the acquisition of award-winning Bangladeshi writer Shaheen Akhtar’s third novel, “Beloved Rongomala” (Shokhi Rongomala).
The historical novel, translated from Bengali into English by noted translator Shabnam Nadiya, will be published under Westland’s language imprint, ‘Eka’.
In “Beloved Rongomala”, Akhtar turns the assassination of the mistress of a small king — a footnote in the history of eighteenth century Bengal — into an “exploration of class, caste, and gender”.
“Beloved Rongomala has begun a new journey. My thanks to Westland. Rongomala was a woman of legend, from 18th century southern Bengal. One who had not wanted to live with the truncated rights granted to her by her class and caste. She staked everything on winning a full life — whether that was in love, in wealth, in freedom, or in her desire for immortality after death,” said Akhtar, writer of Asian Literary award-winning novel “Talaash”.
“Songwriters wrote about her. Poets wrote about her. I’m thrilled to think that Rongomala and her love story will reach non-Bengali speaking readers through Shabnam Nadiya’s translation,” she added.
According to publishers, the story of Rongomala and Raj Chandra Chowdhury, mostly ignored by formal historians, lives on in local traditions.
“Akhtar uses it to create a vivid and cinematic work which, in its aesthetics, is reminiscent of Satyajit Ray’s movies like Devi or Jalsaghar or the period novels ‘By the Tungabhadra’ by the great Bengali writer Saradindu Bandyopadhyay and ‘The Chieftain’s Daughter’ by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay,” said Minakshi Thakur, publisher, Eka.
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