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The author, the story and the reader

  • Published at 07:04 pm November 9th, 2018
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From left: Ahmad Mostofa Kamal, Moinul Ahsan Saber, Parvez Hossain, Rashida Sultana, and Hamim Kamrul Haque Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

The authors shared their views on their differing notions of literary success and how readers have over the years reacted to their works through their letters

“Je golper pathok nei” (Stories that do not have a reader), a highly anticipated panel discussion this year, started with every panellist acknowledging the absurdity of the nature of their discussion.

The panel consisted of four contemporary Bengali writers Moinul Ahsan Saber, Ahmed Mostafa Kamal, Hamim Kamrul Haque, Rashida Sultana, and Parvez Hossain as moderator.

The authors shared their views on their differing notions of literary success and how readers have over the years reacted to their works through their letters.

“So is it about the stories that the readers do not want to read?” Parvez Hossain asked, adding that some stories, such as Rabindranath Tagore’s “The Postmaster,” remain unforgettable over the ages, against the backdrop of ever changing reader’s tastes. 

Certain stories might even lose readers because of the difficulties that the works possess, and the disinterest and unwillingness on the part of the readers to decipher it. Hamim Kamrul Haque, author of “Rattree akhono joubone (The night is still young)” believes that the readers should make that effort and work hard in reading as much as the writer does writing it. “It is also the duty of a writer, however, to make a complex thing easier,” he said.

Most readers want a story that goes with their appetite, and fulfills their stomach, says Moinul Ahsan Saber, who has been writing for over forty years. He thinks that “the number of readers of short stories is not big through the world and it is true for even for the followers of the best novelists who also happen to be short story writers.”

Ahmed Mostafa Kamal agreed, pointing out that “in Bangladesh, the readers of thrillers and adventures such as the books published by 'Sheba Prokashoni' are larger in numbers than the readers of writers who are no undoubtedly good at their craftsmanship but not successful in terms of popularity.” 

Rashida Sultana, author of “Shada Biralera”, agreed as well, lamenting that perhaps “the absence of an all-engaging promotional mechanism in this sector is one of the reasons of this sad reality and a barrier to gaining a sizable audience for ‘serious’ literature.”