Book Reviews | The Daily Star
  • Today we are 1

    It was during the peak of the coronavirus crisis, amidst the punishing heat of June, that we geared up to launch Daily Star Books on this very day in 2020.

  • The terror of living and loving

    An 81-year-old woman is strolling about in her farm, reeling from nostalgia, dead leaves crunching under her feet. She is planting newly bloomed flowers in an empty pig pen.

  • On the second batch of casting decisions for Netflix and Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ adaptation

    The two batches of casting announcements for Netflix’s The Sandman have given fans of the iconic comic book series—after several years of “development hell” and pessimism—reasons finally for optimism. Now to be realised as a television series after decades of ill-starred cinematic attempts, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (DC Comics) can finally begin its ascent into our side of reality.

  • Bangla Academy in mourning after losing three gems

    Amidst the looming threat of the COVID-19, Bangladesh has lost some of its greatest minds in the past year. Among them were three individuals who were in active roles at the Bangla Academy, an organisation that, since its inception on the tailwind of the 1952 Language Movement, has been upholding the national identity and intellectual development of Bangalis.

  • Grow Your Reader to host ‘Book Garage’ donation event until June 15

    Grow Your Reader, an organisation founded recently on the directive of “ensuring quality education” for underprivileged children, has launched Book Garage, which opened its doors on the first of June. The initiative is founded on a simple ethos—leave your old books behind, so those that don’t have the means can pick up and discover a new book for free.

  • Red terror or revolutionary war?

    Lal Shontrash: Siraj Sikder O Sarbahara Rajneeti (Baatighar, 2021) is about the birth, growth, and withering away of a revolutionary organisation about which most Bangladeshis have heard and very many are curious.

  • ‘Who They Was’: A powerful voice from the rough streets of London

    Gabriel Krauze is not your average Booker-longlisted author. He rocks streetwear, Air Maxes, gangster chains, and most importantly a big grin that unveils his signature “iced grillz”—a statement of one’s journey on the streets.

  • A journey with 50 Bangla films

    Three years ago, I remember watching Noor Imran Mithu’s film Komola Rocket (2018) at Bashundhara City with two of my friends. I miss those days when going to a theatre was a normal occasion.

  • 'Murder at the Mushaira': A poet, a murder mystery, and a vivid portrait of 1857 India

    In 1857, a wave of uprisings sparked through India in a bid to overthrow the British rulers. The Sepoy Mutiny was the first time Indian soldiers rose against the British East India Company in the face of corruption and unjust social reforms—including ruthless land taxes that unfairly penalised the working class.

  • The Thrawn legacy: From page to screen, the greatest addition to ‘Star Wars’ mythology

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—or 44 years ago in US cinemas on May 25, to be exact—a phenomenon was born. Today, we know the release as Episode IV: A New Hope but back when it came out in 1977, the film was more prominently known by the title which permeates throughout the world today: Star Wars.

  • Top reads to better understand the horrors of Palestine

    With settler colonialism and apartheid taking place in Palestine—with at least 227 Palestinians, 64 of them children, having been killed over the last 11 days

  • Project Shohay: Book auction to support sex workers

    Project Shohay, a fundraising campaign jointly organised by Litmosphere and the youth-led sexual awareness organisation Bodol, launched on Tuesday, May 18, with the aim of creating employment opportunities for women in “floating” sex work.

  • Life and literature in footnotes

    “Kichudin jabot Dhakay cholchhe prochur gorom, abar eki shathe shaolar gondho chorano brishti hochhe.” The incessant heat and rainfall, the month of May, the lull of Eid holidays and the call of books, films, and music are just some of the elements that make Apurba Jahangir’s Footnotes (Subarna, 2021) a fitting read for this time of the year.

  • Fatherhood, loss, and healing in Colum McCann’s ‘Apeirogon’

    On September 4, 1997, Smadar Elhanan was killed while shopping with friends when Palestinian suicide bombers detonated themselves in downtown Jerusalem.

  • Kelly Link’s ‘The Summer People’ and an escape from writer’s block

    On the tail end of “The Lottery” in the summer of 1948, Shirley Jackson finished writing in one morning’s worth of work her underappreciated short story, “The Summer People”.

  • ‘Ja Ichcha Tai’: New activity book seeks to ignite creativity in adults

    In a break from activity books for children containing games, images, and writing instructions, Shuvashish Roy, a postgraduate of creativity, innovation, and business strategy from the University of Exeter, has written the first-ever creative journal in the Bangla language, Ja Ichcha Tai (Protik Prokashana Sangstha, 2021), which promises its fair share of fun-loving and creative exercises for adults.

  • Comic book free-for-all: First issues to get you hooked on a feeling

    Here are 7 single issues that can serve as gateways into the superhero worlds.

  • The books that went to war

    The books authored and published during a war always have an archival quality; they capture the time in its crudest form. They are a seamless blend

  • Ramadan reading: Authors who write about Muslim lives

    Away from the festivities and communal interactions that make Ramadan special, this year, books seem like a fitting avenue through which we can explore the lives of Muslims across the world. From biographies to novels, for children and for adults, these authors have penned stories that are both wholesome and enlightening.

  • At Night All Blood is Black: All that war leaves behind

    At Night All Blood Is Black (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020; transl. Anna Moschovakis), shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize, is a

  • ‘Shadow and Bone’: Fantasy adaptation done right

    With the demise of Game of Thrones, Netflix seems best poised to offer a replacement—with The Witcher gearing for a second season and now

  • An anarchist retelling of Tintin

    The globetrotting hero-reporter, he of the blonde quiff and the plus four trousers, had many an adventure throughout a 46-year-long run under

  • UPL’s open-for-all book review contest

    On the occasion of World Book Day 2021, The University Press Limited (UPL) have initiated a literary criticism competition to be held from April 23 to May 31, the first part of which is set to conclude at 12 PM on May 7. The competition will be conducted virtually through Facebook, with every participant receiving an additional 5 percent discount on top of the ongoing discount on any order placed through the UPL page on the social media website. In addition, five contestants will be awarded UPL coupons at the end of the competition.

  • Creating an appetite for Bangladeshi fiction

    A good story is hard to find. Niaz Zaman, the editor of The Demoness: The Best Bangladeshi Short Stories, 1971-2021 (Aleph Book Company, 2021), has found 27 “best” short stories to create an appetite for Bangladeshi fiction.

  • Between the two partitions of Bengal

    In my book, Identity of a Muslim Family in Colonial Bengal: Between Memories and History (Peter Lang, NYC, 2021), I focus on the era of pre-Partition Bengal, trekking through old family recollections, oral anecdotes, memoirs, and other available books and documents on pre-independence India, and blend them with the larger history of British Bengal.

  • An ode to cricket, taken with a pinch of salt

    The Commonwealth of Cricket: A Lifelong Love Affair with the Most Subtle and Sophisticated Game Known to Humankind (HarperCollins India, 2020) is Ramachandra Guha’s latest book on cricket. It is his ode to a game his mother introduced him to at the age of four, and his father told him stories of.

  • Listening to Shankha at dusk: a requiem for a poet

    My late grandmother would immerse herself in the rhapsodic melody of Muhammad Iqbal’s poems in Urdu, recite them aloud while taking a stroll around the house and say, “Eta ek alada shaad, banglay er khoj milbe na—this is a different taste, one wouldn’t find it in Bangla”. A few years later, Shankha Ghosh’s masterful translations of Iqbal’s poems would appear in the anthology, Iqbal Theke (Papyrus, 2013). My grandmother was so delighted to be proven wrong. This is one atop a long list of reasons why I am indebted to Ghosh—for the sweetest memory of my grandma.

  • Mentorship opportunity for South Asian writers from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan

    A new British Council-funded project, Write Beyond Borders, is set to kickstart its inaugural episode from May-October 2021. The program is designed for “emerging writers” of South Asian background, who can be based anywhere in the UK, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. The deadline for application, which should include a covering letter and a writing sample of no more than 2,000 words, is April 30, 2021.

  • Five new books I enjoyed reading this month

    During the recent weeks of lockdown, these five books—ranging from historical fiction to memoirs to fantasy to romance—allowed me to disappear into stories, to live many lives, and they reminded me how vast the world was and will soon again be.

  • The allure of a book

    It happened on a slow morning during my university English literature class. We had just finished reading one of Roald Dahl’s lesser-known short stories, “Skin”, published in The New Yorker in 1952. The lecturer called upon the class to present their analyses of the short story. When it was my turn to speak, I became tongue-tied as my mind slowly went blank. It had been close to four years since I had picked up a book.