This issue is mostly about books
Following the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), most cities around the world have gone into lockdown as part of measures to halt its spread. While people have put up a united fight to repulse the COVID–19, digital book clubs are on the rise, allowing readers to discuss books or interact with their favorite authors. According to a recent Guardian story, writers who barely get the chance to write are making the most of this lockdown by taking to writing nonstop. Readers are on the move, too; they are reading more than ever. That’s why the April issue of Arts & Letters is mostly about books in the form of reviews and blurbs. As most people are cut off from the outside world, the blurbs section does not include any recent releases rather suggests books that have created ripples in literary circles internationally in the past 30 or 40 years.
Belal Chowdhury’s memoir, aptly translated by Khademul Islam, is a pleasant read while Manosh Chowdhury’s short story (translated by Sabiha Huq) is about identity politics faced by minorities. Echoing the theme of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera, Sudeep Sen’s poem “Love in the Time of Corona” is a powerful poem not only about love but also about the suffering and ordeals faced by migrants and the poor in the time of this deadly pandemic. The other poems by Suraiya Khanom and Sumana Roy are also worth reading. The second chapter of Ahmed Sofa’s serialized novel (Tales of Flowers, Trees and Birds) is relevant to this time as it celebrates nature, a theme many have emphasized lately, saying that nature is rising with people staying indoors.
On the whole, I hope readers will find this issue worth keeping around, to fight boredom and keep hope alive.