The book 'is essentially about the politics of class'
A talk was organized to mark the launch of the 2nd edition of Afsan Chowdhury’s novel Biswashghatokgon, published by University Press Limited, at Baatighar in Dhaka on September 22. Manosh Chowdhury, professor of Anthropology at Jahangirnagar University, moderated the talk which saw a good crowd of book lovers in the audience.
In the discussion which centered around Bisshashghatokgon, Manosh and Afsan took turns to critically analyze the essence of the book; they also sought to understand whether these themes had any relevance in 2018. Afsan Chowdhury said the book "is essentially about the politics of class". He talked in depth about the various layers of “betrayal” that take place in the novel.
Manosh Chowdhury was of the opinion that Bisshashghatokgon "'has succeeded in portraying the betrayal of the Urban left toward their rural counterparts", adding that it was a “non-apologist, non-judgmental” novel that steers clear from having any “national politics” injected into the narrative. He also noted that every character in the novel “suffers a conflict, which was political or situational in nature”.
With regard to the history depicted in the novel, Afsan Chowdhury said, “History is bigger than a party, it’s even bigger than the country. People are prisoners of history.” He voiced the desire to write a story that didn’t overtly follow any ideological line, saying he wasn’t very ideological himself, that he never had any “solutions” to the problems he depicted in his writings.
Afsan Chowdhury also talked about spending hours with Akhtaruzzaman Elias at the latter’s Tikatoli house, reflecting on how Elias was comparatively more ideological than he was.
The novel also spurred a fruitful discussion on gender, with Manosh noting the specifics of a male character’s behavior when faced with a wife who has left him, and coming to the conclusion that it would only be sensible for the women to go where the “rice” is, in a bid to find out how gender plays a role in the attaining of physiological needs.
Their talk ended with Afsan Chowdhury reminiscing, quite humorously, about the time his first novel was being published and how the publisher had come up to him and asked if there was any romance in the novel, indicating that without it the book would not sell. He warned the audience that Bisshhashghatokgon did not have any romance either.
Ekram Kabir, a columnist of Dhaka Tribune, spoke next, praising the book for having a dreamlike quality. Among others, Mahrukh Mohiuddin, UPL’s Operations & Business Development Director, and Robin Ahsan, proprietor of Srabon Prakashani, also spoke highly of the book. Actress and activist Bonna Mirza also spoke of the relatability of the novel.
Bisshashghatokgon is available for purchase at Baatighar and other local bookstores.