Book Reviews | The Daily Star
  • Of Myths, Migrants and Misconceptions: A Personal Essay on Charges

    The Reading Circle (TRC) a book club in Dhaka, started the new year with a Literary Encounter at the Goethe Institut onSaturday, January 4. The book for discussion was Charges by Elfriede Jelinek.

  • A Glimpse of the Istanbul We Don’t Know

    There is a difference between being hooked “from” the start of a book and being hooked “by” the start of it. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World—Elif Shafak’s 11th novel—does the latter.

  • Wild Boars, Flies, Love, Loss, Identity: Wild Boar in the Cane Field

    The aforementioned line rises to utmost significance once the novel reaches its end. It would be better to leave this explanation untouched in the review for the readers’ sake.

  • The Word

    I like the idea of that lurking uncertainty in the background. It is the anticipation of what is to come feels exciting. And now here I am facing that uncertainty.

  • On Writer’s Block

    Fairly recently, I was working with two of my colleagues here in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to propose a panel for a conference in North America.

  • Marriage Story: A Dead Marriage and Vulture Lawyers

    The title of Noah Baumbach’s 2019 movie Marriage Story is perhaps ironic and misleading.

  • A Befitting Centenary Tribute to a Major Poet of Our Subcontinent

    If people in Bangladesh remember Kaifi Azmi (1919-2002) now, it is either because of the famous songs he wrote for popular Hindu films such as Kagaz Ke Phool (1959), Pakeezah (1972) and Aarth (1982), or because he is the father of the celebrated actress-activist and member of the Indian Rajya Sabha, Shabana Azmi.

  • On DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019

    The DSC Prize celebrating the rich and varied world literature in South Asia 2019 had announced its longlist on September 26, 2019 evening at the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi.

  • Recalling Times Past

    Ahh! Yours truly was positively ecstatic as he rapidly flipped through the two hundred-odd pages of Curtain Call: English Language Plays in Dhaka 1950-1970, written by the brother-sister duo of Raza Ali and Niaz Zaman.

  • Shakespearewallah: From Bengal to Belfast

    Here we are on the Irish border for Hallowe’en, originally a Celtic festival designed to propitiate the ghosts of the dead.

  • Guru Dakshina: Legends through the Eyes of a Disciple

    Almost all the readers of this review, I believe, know of the dramatist Momtazuddin Ahmed, National Professor Anisuzzaman or social activist Dr. Anupam Sen. It is a matter of some clicks on your mouse to get to know about these legends from Bangladesh. But, maybe, some of you sympathize with me that you do not know them through the microscopic lens of a student, who were in good terms with these leading lights within the four walls of classrooms and even outside.

  • Samarkand: A Review

    “Look ‘round thee now on Samarcand, Is she not queen of earth? Her pride Above all cities? In her hand

  • Longlist for the dsc Prize for South Asian Literature 2019

    The US $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which is now in its ninth year, announced its keenly awaited longlist on September 25, 2019. The longlist of 15 novels, which represent the best in South Asian fiction writing, was unveiled by the chair of the jury panel Harish Trivedi at a special event at the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi.

  • Happy Reading! Bauler Akhray Fa-kirer Deray

    There is no denying that folklore is simply the tale of simple human beings, their everyday stories-stories of love and pain, happiness and hardships. Folk literature is different from others as it deals with the root. Folk literature always looks for the opportunity to

  • From Liberation War Hero to Prison and After: A Sobering Tale

    Two narratives counterpoint each other in Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury’s Chariot of Life: Liberation War, Politics and Sojourn in Jail. The first is the absorbing story of major events in the author’s life till the closing years of the first decade of this century. The second is

  • Origins: A Memoir

    The Lebanese-born and Paris resident explores the notion of being an émigré. As he says, I seldom return to my country of origin, and then only when circumstances compel me to…almost always the death of a loved one.” Correspondingly, he is told “Here, families have

  • Farewell My Friend: A Review of Babu Bangladesh!

    Babu Bangladesh! looks at the times and places that the protagonist, Babu Abdul Majumdar inhabited. However, narrating Babu’s llife, the author Numair Atif Choudhury chronicles the political history of Bangladesh from its birth till the present time, or rather till his

  • On Becoming

    Do not judge a book by its cover; notwithstanding the glamorous becoming photo profile that graces this book. Do judge a book by its title. A more appropriate book title is hard to conceive of. Becoming in a single word summarises the passage of the extra-ordinary

  • Starstruck

    I see starlight on my walls in dark nights I see it on my windows.

  • Of Identity, Love, and Holy War: A Review of The Runaways

    Rightfully so, The Guardian calls it a timely novel. In The Runaways, the discourse on radicalization is fanned by the converging lives of three different young people as we, the readers, are flown from dusty, noise-filled, engine-breathing Karachi, gloomy Portsmouth, and rustic Varanasi to rubble-filled, war stricken Syria and Mosul.

  • Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

    Is the Man Who is Tall Happy is pretty to look at. It is an animated documentary laying out a meandering conversation between two men (as of now, also free to stream on Youtube). We would call it an adda. The first is the interviewer himself, Michael Gondry, a

  • A Bibliophile’s Review of Bargain Buys

    Phobia and mania remain inexplicably internalised conditions. Such was my dilemma as I stood at the crossroad one Saturday morning waiting for my friend as she undertook her Saturday errands in Purley, Croydon, outside London. To my left, stood the Cat Protection

  • Wild Flowers in a Busy Street: A Review of Anabhyaser Dine

    When I started reading Anabhyaser Dine (Unaccustomed Days), I did not know much about the author but that also meant I was free from any preconceived image about the writer and in no obligation to subscribe to a preconceived notion.

  • On Intimations of Ghalib: Translations from the Urdu

    Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan (1797 – 1869), popularly known by his takhallus (pen name) Ghalib (conqueror), makes it difficult for writers to sum him up easily or definitively. He himself would probably have taken great and impish delight in that knowledge. In one of his ghazals he suggests (Shahid Alam

  • Truth Stranger than Fiction!

    Imagine a Japanese man in Dhaka in the first decade of the twentieth century bent on being employed in the town and ending up marrying a Bengali Brahmo woman, the daughter of a soap factory owner, who has offered him a job. Think of the woman later going to a village near Nagoya with her husband

  • It’s All Relative: Relative Truths

    However trite it may seem at first glance to call a book “It’s All Relative,” more layers are revealed on further examination of this collection of stories published by Bengal Publicationss. The title is perhaps an allusion to how stories bounce off each other, morphing into something different

  • A Bibliophile’s Review of Bargain Buys: The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot

    The Queen of detective fiction (1890-1976) was in 1971 bestowed the title - Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to literature by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As with the British reigning monarch, Agatha Christie’s reign continues uninterrupted.

  • Human, All too Human!

    For anyone harboring misgivings about Rabindranath Tagore but doing so with an open mind, as well as anyone who treasures his works but is realistic enough to know that though superhuman in some ways, he was human—all too human!—this is a must read book. Certainly, I found it unputdownable.

  • The Burden of Miracle in Poonachi: or the Story of a Black Goat

    Perumal Murugan, the Tamil writer who rose to fame with self-declaration of his death as an author following protests by the Right wing against his writing, has resurrected with a forceful new novel, Poonachi.

  • Azfar Hussain’s Dorshonakkhyan: Materialist Philosophy

    In Hegelian philosophy, the dialectical relation between appearance and reality is an important relationship. Marx brought this