One of the most versatile and celebrated female Bengali writers in the country, Nabaneeta Dev Sen passed away at her Hindustan Park residence in Kolkata on November 7. She was 81, and had been undergoing treatment for cancer. Sen was a Padma Shri awardee and a true luminary, whose contributions to the literary world have been immense.
In her professional career, Sen published more than 80 books in Bengali, which included poetry, short stories, plays, travelogues, novels, literary criticism, to name a few. Her last novel in her Naxal trilogy — titled The Parrot Green Saree — was translated into English recently. The book tells the story of two women, two different generations and two worlds. Set primarily in the US, it is the story of “displacement and loss, of a remembered homeland, of political and personal battles, of individual freedom”.
Her other celebrated works include Bama-Bodhini, Nati Nabaneeta, Srestho Kobita, Bhalobashar Baranda, Sita Theke Shuru, Icchamati, and I, Anupam, among many others. Sen wrote deeply about middle class Bengali women, their aspirations and assertions of independence. Contemporary social issues like loneliness of nuclear families, gender identity, immigration and exile, were also explored by her.
In her lifetime, her prolific body of work won her many awards, including the Gouridevi Memorial Award, the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award (1999), to name a few.
Born to poets Narendranath and Radharani Dev in January 1938, Sen grew up in Kolkata, where she studied at the famous Presidency College. She wrote her first short story collection Monsieur Hulor Holiday in 1980.