<%-- Page Title--%> Book Review <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 153 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 7, 2004

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How about some Bangladeshi Diaspora?

Jackie Kabir

Bangladeshis these days read or talk more about immigrant or diaspora literature than works written by writers from other countries. Writers, especially novelists, of South Asian origin have and are doing very well in world literature. Novels written by immigrant writers are shedding light on the different aspects of their immigrant lives in, what they say, an alien culture. In the early 1980s, works of barely ten South Asian writers were seen in the literary world, and now it has been replaced by ten new writers every year. This trend is likely to continue in the coming years.

Another set of writers who write both in English and their native language are gaining popularity in the literary world. Some of them talk about how the immigrants struggle either to blend in the crowd or strife to keep up their identity. It makes one wonder if the immigrants are really at home or in a faraway home. Some writers, especially those from Bangladesh, present the flashy lifestyle, which only shows a part of their life in a foreign land.

Shuja Rahid, an expatriate settled in Canada after spending a good part of his life in the US, is one of those writers. Unlike most of the Bangladeshis, Shuja tries to depict the more indelicate and unexplored aspects that some of the Asians have to go through while residing in the West.

Writing in Bangla, Shuja's latest novel Shuvro Barshan, is a love story of two Bangladeshis in a typical western backdrop. The writer depicts the lives of Bangalis living in the US in his book.

The relationship between Dipu and Ava is a complicated one; Dipu has difficulty in understanding the actual feelings of the young woman whose beauty makes him forget what he wanted to say every time she comes near him. Dipu has known this strange beauty almost all his life without really comprehending her.

Ava calls Dipu one night to tell him to pick her up from the airport the next day which was a working day for him. He starts reminiscing his past when Ava had created a lot of chaos in his life. Even his sister Pinkie finds Ava "irksome" even though they practically grew up together.

Ava had purposely stayed back at Dipu's place even though Pinkie had offered her own place to stay for the night. But Shuja is the perfect gentleman.

Ava wants to tie some loose ends. When she inquires about Dipu's anger towards her he explains that it was not her but the kind of life he has to live in the US. The treatment the people of the whole subcontinent got was blatantly discriminatory. They were the minority there. It made him angry that 'these white people' always looked down upon them even though they had the same qualifications went to the same educational institution etc. Ava does not seem to agree with him she argued that all Americans were not the same.

The book has an easy flow, which will attract readers for its simple composition. Along with the complexities of the human mind it also gives a vivid description of the lives of young people who have migrated to foreign lands in the hope of a better future. They try to find something they left back home by regularly arranging to gather at someone's house and spending time together.

The weakness and the strength of these people are also portrayed in a striking manner. Young girls like Ava try to find solutions of their problems by talking to psychiatrists, visiting witches. It also shows the realities of loneliness that everyone feels while living in a faraway land - away from familiarity.

There is another book by the same author which in a way continues the story of Shuvro Barshan. This book titled Ei Jatra portrays the conjugal life of the above mentioned couple. It projects the identity crisis of the younger generation of this communit. They cannot completely be Americanised nor can they be completely Bangladeshi. This is something all migrants feel even though few talk about it because all the older generations want their offspring to be familiar with their roots, their culture and also be proud about it.

The narrative style of the writer makes one hope that he may at some point, start writing in English which will convey these interesting nuances of Bangladeshi immigrant life to a wider audience.




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