Novel by Syed Manzoorul Islam
(Library of Bangladesh)
About the book:
The discovery of a dismembered hand floating on the river incites uproar in a small coastal town, where a motley crew of outsiders, stranded at the local police station by an impending cyclone, becomes entangled in the mystery.
Cut off from the rest of the world, each of these interlopers is uniquely affected by the enigmatic object. Hidden emotions are shaken loose, secret skeletons and unfulfilled desires surface.
And all the while, in a village some distance away, the author spinning this tale and a blind young boy both witness the true story behind the severed hand unfold.
Born in 1951, Syed Manzoorul Islam is one of Bangladesh’s leading fiction writers, as well as a preeminent academic, translator, columnist, and literary critic. Formerly a professor of English at the University of Dhaka, he is currently a member of the English faculty at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB).
Islam is perhaps the only Bangladeshi author who writes with equal ease and fluency in both Bangla and English. He has five novels and eight short story collections to his credit, including Prem O Prarthonar Golpo, which received the 2005 Prothom Alo Book of the Year award. In 2015, Islam published his first collection of short stories in English, The Merman’s Prayer and Other Stories.
Islam received the prestigious Bangla Academy Award for literature in 1996. In 2018, he received the Ekushey Padak, the second highest civilian award in Bangladesh. He was also elected president of PEN Bangladesh the same year.
Like a Diamond in the Sky
Novel by Shazia Omar
About the book:
At twenty-one, Deen is dismayed by the poverty around him. Trapped in negativity, alienated from family and society, heroin is his drug of choice. Deen and his partner in crime, AJ, ride high on acid and amphetamines, philosophize in the university canteen, party in a politician’s posh pad and contemplate God at a roadside tea stall.
From Maria, a chemically imbalanced diva, to a rickshaw wallah who reflects on the importance of positive energy, from a group of fakirs who sing about love, to a detective who has his own take on addiction, the characters in Shazia Omar’s novel crackle with life. They represent the despair, hopes and aspirations of a generation struggling to survive the harsh realities of life in modern Dhaka.
Shazia Omar is a writer, activist and yogini. She has written two novels (Like a Diamond in the Sky, Penguin India 2009 and Dark Diamond, Bloomsbury India 2016) and a mind, body, spirit book (Intentional Smile: A Girl’s Guide to Positive Living, Bloomsbury 2016). She writes a column for The Daily Star (“Kundalini Rising”). Shazia is a certified yoga instructor who has been teaching ashtanga yoga and pilates for 15 years. She completed her undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College, USA and her Masters in Social Psychology at LSE, UK. www.shaziaomar.com
Novel by Srabonti Narmeen Ali
About the book:
Beautiful young socialite Amola has the perfect life: a handsome husband with a prosperous business, a child attending a prestigious boarding school overseas, a sprawling home in the right neighborhood. But underneath all the glitz and glamor, Amola’s world is full of secrets and lies. Her own voice is constantly drowned out by those of two formidable women in her life: her mother and grandmother. When a tragic accident that shatters countless lives leaves the future of her family in jeopardy, Amola must embark on a journey to find herself, and finally discover her own voice amidt the clamor.
Srabonti Narmeen Ali graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2001. In 2006, she completed her first master’s degree in Culture and Creative Industries at Kings College London. In 2018, Ali graduated with her second master’s degree, in Social Work, from George Mason University in Virginia. Ali is currently working as a Pre-Licensed Therapist while completing her licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She worked at The Daily Star in Bangladesh as a staff writer for the weekly magazine, The Star, for six years.
Ali is a member of Writers Block, a group of Bengali authors who write in English. Her debut novel, Hope in Technicolor, was published by Bengal Publications at the Hay Festival Dhaka in 2013 while the novel’s first chapter was included in the Writers Block anthology What the Ink? published in 2011. Her short story “Yellow Cab” was published in the anthology Lifelines, launched at the Hay Festival Dhaka in 2012.
During her free time, Ali also tries to nurture her two other passions: dancing and singing. She teaches a Bengali and Bollywood dance class at the American Recreational Association in Dhaka and in 2011, released her first solo album, Deluded, which features both Bengali and English songs written and composed by her. Ali lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.