Fakrul Alam

Fakrul Alam is a Bangladeshi academic, writer, and translator.

November 6, 2021
November 6, 2021

Scenes from a Radio-Active Age

As my siblings and I grew up in the first half of the 1960s, the radio set was the most sought-after device in our house. Till Baba bought a television set for us towards the end of the decade, it was our main source of entertainment, news and small talk.

October 2, 2021
October 2, 2021

Paradisal Libraries

Younger people might find this too dated, but I will stick by what  Jorge Luis Borges once said: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of a Library!”

August 14, 2021
August 14, 2021

Empathy and Bangabandhu

Empathy, the Wikipedia entry on the word tells us, includes “caring for other people and having a desire to help them; experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions; discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other.

July 29, 2021
July 29, 2021

Reflections on University of Dhaka convocation speeches: Part II

The second volume of Dhaka University: The Convocation Speeches, 1948-1970 (Dhaka University Publications, 1989), assembled assiduously by Emeritus Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury, is an important publication like the first one for anyone trying to understand Dhaka University’s extraordinary role in the genesis and identity formation of Bangladesh.

July 3, 2021
July 3, 2021

The University of Dhaka and the Birth of Bangladesh

In Dhaka University: the Convocation Speeches, a volume compiled with an introduction by Serajul Islam Choudhury in 1988, we read that DU was established by the British as a "splendid imperial compensation" for the Muslims of East Bengal (Choudhury, 26). They had wanted the current rulers of India to make up through it for the loss they felt they had suffered because of the reunion of Bengal in 1911.

May 8, 2021
May 8, 2021

Translating Rabindranath Tagore’s Song-Lyrics

In the song-lyric numbered 230 in Gitabitan, Rabindranath Tagore’s comprehensive compilation of such verse, we find his delight at capturing the loveliness of the world outside his window in a song-lyric: “I’ve caught uncatchable loveliness in rhyme’s binds—/The loveliness of a distant night-bird/Singing at a late hour of the night/ Wings crimsoned by ashoka flowers of a departed spring/And a heart filled with the fragrance of fallen flowers” (my translation).

May 8, 2021
May 8, 2021

Tagore Songs

Clouds pile upon clouds And the world darkens Why keep me waiting by the door then, All, all alone?

May 1, 2021
May 1, 2021

A. K. Fazlul Huq’s English Prose

In “Gandhi and Nehru: The Uses of English,” an essay written by Sunil Khilnani from the 2010 collection of essays edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, A Concise History of Indian Literature in English, we are told about how the two leading figures of Indian independence not only used the English language to write back against empire, but played important roles in “the long, uneasy and interminable task of making English an Indian language.”

March 17, 2021
March 17, 2021

Bangabandhu’s writerly skills

Soon after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Oshomapto Atmojiboni (Unfinished Memoirs)came out in an English translation as well in the original Bangla in 2012, I heard at least a few people express their skepticism about the book’s authorship to me.

January 14, 2021
January 14, 2021

Shashi Tharoor Looks Through A Glass Darkly, For Democracy

This is a must-read book for anyone worried about the vulnerability of democracy in our time and the rise of authoritarian governments everywhere.