Maisha Syeda

Maisha Syeda is a writer, painter, and the Sub editor of Daily Star Books.

Of ‘BONOBIBI’ and music as a form of storytelling

The verses remind us that a withering, war-torn Earth can still birth new life and hopes of freedom.

2w ago

On Coke Studio Bangla x Meghdol’s ‘BONOBIBI’ and music as a form of storytelling

When Coke Studio Bangla released Meghdol’s Bonobibi, their second song of season 2, listeners found themselves torn between loving the song and questioning it. Questioning as to why the song was done under the banner of Coke Studio, a project funded by an American-based multinational corporation; questioning what qualifies Meghdol, a band known for singing about urban life in Dhaka city, to sing about tales originating in the Sundarbans; and why the song didn’t delve deeper into the history and background of the stories they were trying to tell. It has raised a wider question about how music plays a role in storytelling.

2w ago

Afternoons at the Bijoy Sarani signal

“I wonder what she’ll wear tomorrow,” he mumbled as his eyes drooped shut.

2w ago

‘Bonbibi’: When music has a soul

I’m no musician; my knowledge of good and bad music goes much beyond the superficial but, what do I know of the technicalities that goes into creating something that emerges as an enchanting composition?

4w ago

AI generated Bangladeshi comic ‘Manobjatir Grohon’: An initiative with potential

We find out that civilisation underwent the threat of extinction, where only a few survived. About 100 years later, Anika, a 19-year-old girl, comes across an orb-like glowing “machine” that is meant to “change the fate of the current humanity forevermore.”

Surviving in a stagnant industry: What are emerging publishers doing differently?

Preexisting publishers are struggling to sustain in the market since the Covid-19 and the recent rise in paper prices. How are smaller and emerging publishers faring? 

Rifat Munim releases anthology, ‘Bangladesh: A Literary Journey through 50 Short Stories’

The book will be launched at the Dhaka Lit Fest starting Thursday, January 5, where Rifat Munim is also hosting a session.

Six of my favourite winter reads

Be it for their nostalgic pull or the promise of escaping into a rich, evocative world, these tales have been consistent go-to’s for me over the years.

An ordinary day, with monsters in our jungles

Even the Bangladeshi protagonist—merely referred to as Agontok (a stranger)—is established as an anti-hero, in contrast with the traditionally heroic Hercules, which I thought was an exciting change.

Bookworm Bangladesh to vacate shop after 30 years of serving readers

“We tried our best to keep the shop but the tides of change are upon us”, Bookworm announced on their social media today. 

Can a city hold a home? - Shagufta Sharmeen Tania’s short story, “What Men Live By”

“What Men Live By” opens like a children’s story—the way Matilda or most Roald Dahl books would start out—with simple, everyday events and straightforward descriptions. Eventually, though, one line caught my attention and I couldn’t help but smile:

Your favourite fictional blackout companions

“Free light source plus [a] dude I can sit and ruminate with, it’s perfect.” 

Shaheen Akhtar’s ‘Beloved Rongomala’ (trans. Shabnam Nadiya) in a new edition from Westland Books

Based on an 18th century legend from Bangladesh’s Noakhali region, Beloved Ronglomala tells the story of one Queen Phuleswari, a child bride, and of Rongomala, a woman of legend.

Shabnam Nadiya, Wasi Ahmed only Bangladeshis among English PEN Presents shortlist

Shabnam Nadiya was selected for The Ice Machine, her translation from the Bangla of Bangladeshi short story writer and novelist Wasi Ahmed’s Borofkol. 

All that matters

The office started to clear out once the overhead clock struck five.

2023 International Booker Prize judges announced

Chairing next year’s judges’ panel will be Leïla Slimani, the French Moroccan novelist known for books like Lullaby (2016) and Adèle (2019).

Nine times that books told us why overpopulation is scary

Despite the decelerating growth rate and with the country's population currently standing at 16.51 crore as opposed to just 14 crore in 2011—merely 10 years ago—overcrowding is still a massive cause of headache for most of us.

Unconventional narrators dominate the 2022 Booker Prize longlist

Glory is narrated by a vivid chorus of animal voices, while Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is partly told by the malevolent cancer travelling through the body of protagonist Lia.

Yet another musical marvel from Meghdol

When I noticed that Meghdol had released a song for the film “Hawa”, while scrolling through my YouTube homepage, I somehow knew that I would not be disappointed. Of course, this was a hunch owing to my eternal love for Meghdol. However, what I did not expect was to be moved by it to the extent that I was. It has been years since a piece of music managed to sincerely and deeply pull at my heartstrings to the level “E Hawa” has been able to.

Books to read against a beautiful sunset

Here are some books that, for their various tropes and themes, go hand in hand and allow us to relish these July evenings.

On books that became memories over Eid holidays

I remember Ma through her books as well, the little of her thoughts and ideas that she could share with the young me then.

Back to the Wall: How I live with back pain

Lifestyle-induced backpain is now such a systemic problem that even if wanted to change it, we wouldn’t know where to begin or how to keep up.

‘Luminaries of the Word’: Student designs video game on Bangladeshi women writers

"I selected excerpts from eight famous works, books like Begum Rokeya’s 'Motichur' and 'Ekattorer Diary' by Sufia Kamal, and expanded on their implied or intended meaning as best as I could."

What we readers want from Zoya Akhtar’s ‘The Archies’

From the trailer it looks like Zoya Akhtar's Archies has a wider cast of main characters than Riverdale, but what we want to see is the original comics' innocence revisited.

The Myth Bridge: Goethe Institut Bangladesh and HerStory Foundation revisit women of folklore through Dungeons and Dragons

Going live from May 15 is The Myth Bridge, a live-action simulation game that “[brings] to life” and connects nine women characters from Bengali and German folklore. 

Shagufta Sharmeen Tania shortlisted for Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2022

“My story concerns the lost souls of a metropolis”, the author tells The Daily Star, “those magnificent beasts that cannot find their places in a growing, sprawling cityscape.” 

Arshi Mortuza explores mental health and identity crises in ‘One Minute Past Midnight’

Reversal of fairy tale tropes and themes of mental health and alienation run dominantly across One Minute Past Midnight (Nymphea Publications, 2022), a debut collection of poetry and prose by poet and teacher Arshi Mortuza. 

Shuvashish Roy’s new teen book incorporates SDGs into fiction

Chevening scholar, author, and head of business development at The Daily Star, Shuvashish Roy, has published his first work of fiction, Chamakiya O Biggani Bhajaghata (Gyankosh Prokashoni, 2022), released at the Ekushey Boi Mela this year. 

Leading a community out of disaster

Hashi Begum, from Uttar Manoshitola village in Barguna, took matters into her own hands when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit. She not only resolved to take care of her own family but her community as well.

‘Gehraiyaan’ – a serene, understated work of art

Remember the song “Pappu Can’t Dance Sala” from “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”? It might come as a surprise to many people that that bespectacled individual was the genius behind the brilliant romance/drama, “Kapoor & Sons”. This year, Shakun Batra proved again that he is as brilliant as they come in Bollywood. ‘Pappu’ might not know how to dance, but he sure can direct! Released on Amazon Prime Video, under the notable Dharma Productions banner, Batra has co-written and directed yet another romantic drama–but with a few twists.

UPL launches Samuel Jaffe’s book on US grassroots activism in Bangladesh Liberation War

In a live YouTube broadcast, The University Press Limited (UPL) launched their book, An Internal Matter: The U.S., Grassroots Activism and the Creation of Bangladesh, written by Samuel Jaffe, at 7 PM on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

UPL launches Samuel Jaffe’s book on grassroots activism in the Liberation War

In a live YouTube broadcast, University Press Limited (UPL) launched their book, An Internal Matter: The U.S., Grassroots Activism and the Creation of Bangladesh, written by Samuel Jaffe, at 7 PM on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Exploring friendship as an adult

It’s hard to find a partner. It’s harder to make friends.

Anwarul Amin’s memoir revisits the first Bangladeshi bank established abroad

In a discerning recollection of events, esteemed retired banker Anwarul Amin has released his memoir about opening the first branch of a Bangladeshi bank abroad.

National award winner Kajol Ibrahim launches her memoir

In an intimate ceremony held at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on December 4, national award-winning dancer, choreographer, and stage performer Kajol Ibrahim launched her memoir, Nritte Gantha Kotha Mala, published by Ramon Publishers.

Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Foundation hosts discussion on freedom fighters of Dhaka

On November 27, Saturday at 7 PM, Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Foundation hosted its fifth episode of their discussion series,‘Bidyapeeth Baithaki: Antaranga Alape Gunizan, online’. The topic of this week’s episode was ‘Crack Platoon: The Freedom Fighters of Dhaka’.

Why Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams” is a perfect way to start the season

Three days ago when I woke up in the morning to get ready for work, I stood on my balcony and felt a slight, familiar nip in the air.

South-African author Damon Galgut wins 2021 Booker Prize for his novel, "The Promise"

The South-African novelist and playwright had been previously shortlisted for his books, The Good Doctor (2003) and In A Strange Room (2010) in their respective years, the former of which received the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

ULAB hosts colloquium, “From Kabuliwala to the Fall of Kabul: Afghanistan in Popular Imagination”

The Department of English and Humanities, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) has organised a two-day International Virtual Colloquium on October 30 and 31 entitled “From ‘Kabuliwala’ to the Fall of Kabul: Afghanistan in Popular Imagination”.

Tanveer Anoy explores gender roles and identities in his second novel, ‘Duradhay’

Tanveer Anoy’s second novel, Duradhay (Anandam, 2021), felt like a punch to my stomach; a wake up call, to be more precise.

Gyantaposh Abdur Razzak Foundation conducts session on Manosh Chowdhury’s unpublished research

The Unpublished PhD lecture series, organised by Gyantaposh Abdur Razzaq Foundation, resumed on October 12, 2021 at 7 pm over Zoom after a two year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In its eighth episode, researcher and professor of Anthropology at Jahangirnagar University, Manosh Chowdhury, gave an illuminating talk on his doctoral thesis: “Popularizing Project: Some Aspects of Production of Culture and Discourses in Bangladesh”.

ULAB Press launches 'Commemorating Sheikh Mujib’

On the morning of Thursday, October 7, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh saw the launch of ULAB Press with its maiden publication, Commemorating Sheikh Mujib: The Greatest Bengali of the Millenium (2021).

Abul Mansur Ahmad Smriti Parishad holds creative writing and research workshop

The Abul Mansur Ahmad Smriti Parishad held the award giving ceremony for its fourth annual essay competition, commemorating journalist, author, historian, and politician Abul Mansur Ahmad, yesterday at 4 pm at The Daily Star Center. A day-long workshop on creative writing, editing, and research accompanied the programme. 

The need to be fierce: In "Sweetness", Toni Morrison allows a mother to explain her actions

Anyone familiar with Toni Morrison’s work would know about the gutting picture of slavery and racism that she painted with her stories.

‘The Green Knight’ adaptation subverts the tenets of chivalric romance

The mystical riddle that was the film, The Green Knight (2021), was initially just that for me: a riddle. It was one of those films where I felt like my experience of watching it would be more rewarding if I had some idea of the actual story it was based on.