Arunava Sinha, acclaimed translator of Bengali fiction and poetry into English, has finished translating Akhteruzzaman Elias’s most famous novel Khoabnama recently.
Penguin Random House will publish the book in India, Arunava confirmed this to Arts & Letters in an email correspondence. However, he could not confirm the date of publication.
Akhteruzzaman Elias, winner of the Ekushey Padak (posthumous) in 1999, though, has written only two novels in his lifetime, is regarded as one of the best Bengali novelists of all time. Published in 1996, his novel Khoabnama (The Saga of Dreams) tells a story that is set upon the history of Bengal when the British colonial rule was coming to an end. The novel, mostly, has captured the variegated experiences of the people of Bengal (present Bangladesh) during the turbulent times of the great Indian partition of 1947. Being careful about the legacy of history, Elias has depicted the socio-political realities of that period—the communal riot, the rebellion of the peasants against the landlords and the conflict between different ideologies, for example.
Elias’ first novel Chilekothar Sepai (The Soldier in the Attic) —published in 1987, on the other hand, with its psychoanalytic narration, details the journey of a man from the time of Bangladesh’s movement for independence. He has shown his mastery as a short story writer as well. Among his short story collections, Dojokher Om (The Warmth of Hell), Onno Ghore Onno Shor (Another Tune in Another Room), and Milir Hate Sten-Gun (Sten-Gun in Mili’s Hand) are the notable ones. Shongskritir Bhanga Shetu (Broken Bridge of Culture) is his only essay collection. For his marvelous contributions in Bengali literature, Akhteruzzaman Elias was awarded the Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1983.
Arunava Sinha, the translator of this novel, has translated around 50 books; among which, besides India, forty-six have been published from the UK and the US, and some other countries. His most recent work, I Remember Abbu (2019), is a transition of Humayun Azad’s novel Abbuke Mone Pore (2009), was published by Amazon Crossing. He has won the Crossword Translation Award twice, for Sankar’s Chowringhee (2007) and Anita Agnihotri’s Seventeen (2011), respectively. For Buddhadeva Bose’s When the Time Is Right, he became the winner of the Muse India Translation Award (2013).