Book Reviews | The Daily Star
  • There will be darkness again

    As humans we teeter on the oddest of precipices. We are only animals: apes unusually adept at surviving Earth’s harsh playbook for life. Like the multitude of organisms we share it with, we live, multiply, and without exception, we die.

  • BACK TO SCHOOL: Campus novels worth revisiting

    Instead of the thrill of meeting friends and professors in a bustling, energised campus, going back to school only involves a computer this September.

  • Submission and surveillance in Suzanne Collins’ dystopia

    Twelve years ago, Suzanne Collins introduced us to The Hunger Games (Scholastic Press), a dystopian world where children fight to their televised deaths in a brutal annual competition.

  • The stillness of human wandering

    When we think of migration, the images in our collective narratives are constructed primarily with masses of people on the move, leaving places they belong in for foreign lands. In her latest book, Sonia Shah, an American science journalist and author, critically takes apart the boundaries around human wandering both in our lands and our mind-sets.

  • Bollywood’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’: Okay? Not Okay?

    When The Fault in Our Stars (2012) first released, it brought on a powerful surge of change, not only in our reading lists, but in our perception of terminal and mental diseases and even to the genre itself.

  • Crimes that history cannot absolve

    Korean literature has been enjoying a literary renaissance for quite some time through translation, from the likes of Hang Kang’s beguiling yet gruesome novel, The Vegetarian (2007) to Yeonmi Park’s heart wrenching memoir, In Order to Live (2015).

  • New publication on UK Bengali settlement out on Kindle

    Migration of Bengalis from South Asia to the outside world started with taking up jobs as lascars (sailors) in the British East India Company's ships which carried precious goods from the Indian subcontinent, such as spice, tea and cotton. In addition, from the second half of the nineteenth century, Bengali educated and wealthy gentlemen began travelling to England mainly to pursue higher education.

  • Humanity, freedom, and magic realism in the face of authoritarian powers

    On April 1, 1979, after years of tensions between Western and Islamic values, Iran became an Islamic Republic. Theocracy triumphed monarchy and a massive crackdown on “un-Islamic” ways of life swept across the country, suffocating intellectual, cultural, personal, and physical freedom under the weight of a stringent regime.

  • Are we reading ‘A Seaman’s Wife’ the right way?

    Something that has always fascinated me about Bangladeshi literature is it’s attachment to and exploration of space—be it in prose, poetry, or music, almost all Bangladeshi and even Bengali literary work engages with how we are impacted by land, home, country, season, and other natures of charged atmosphere.

  • SHUTTER STORIES: Books to read on World Photography Day

    Ironically a book without images or photographs, On Photography collects American philosopher, filmmaker and activist Susan Sontag’s essays on the history of photography, its inherent voyeurism, and how it affects the way we perceive and experience the modern world through an often capitalist lens.

  • A Burning: Good Books Are Hard to Read

    Good books – even as they are arresting – are often hard to read. This is not because they are difficult in themselves so much because oftheir content.

  • Has young adult fantasy become rote as a genre?

    Everyone had them on their bookshelves. Everyone read them and fawned over them. Online stores were getting creative with the contents of these young-adult fantasy books, coming up with themed candles, beautifully designed bookmarks, and exclusive sticker packs. It was almost as though the genre had developed a cult following of its own.

  • To stitch a tapestry of trauma

    A good book stays with a reader long after they’ve read the last word and placed it back on the shelf. It leaves an impression on the mind, whether because the action was exhilarating, the characters raw and real, or because reading it felt like coming back to a home you never knew you had.

  • The fires of Partition in East Bengal

    Three years before Maloy Krishna Dhar’s death, his memoir, Train to India: Memories of Another Bengal (Penguin India, 2009), came out. Born in a sleepy village of Kamalpur in the Bhairab-Mymensingh region next to Meghna and Brahmaputra, Dhar had an illustrious career as a teacher, journalist, intelligence officer, and writer.

  • The road not taken, in books

    One day many years ago, discovering my cousin’s tattered copy of a Give Yourself Goosebumps book completely changed my ideas about what books could be.

  • Beyond the pages of Anne Frank’s diary

    On the first day of this month, 76 years ago, Anne Frank wrote her last diary entry. Three days later, on August 4, the building she was hiding in with her family and four family friends was raided by the Gestapos.

  • A book’s plea for a better internet

    “Happily, the Web is so huge that there’s no way any one company can dominate it,” wrote Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1999.

  • Earth calls the soul in ‘Inner State’

    “A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.”

  • 'Shirley' crystallises Shirley Jackson’s contested legacy

    Shirley (2020), directed by Josephine Decker and adapted by Sarah Gubbins from the 2014 eponymous novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, interweaves fact and fiction into an imagined narrative about the time when author Shirley Jackson was writing her second novel Hangsaman (1951).

  • Technicolour Mughals: Ira Mukhoty brings Akbar to life

    Humans are a storytelling species. Yet history, which is but the stories of yesteryears, is taught like a chain of facts and dates.

  • A rare glimpse into Muslim homes

    Diversity can seem jaded when it is employed for the sake of appearing “woke”.

  • Conversations from the Daily Star Book Club

    On the Daily Star Book Club last week, we asked members how they organise and look after their book collections at home. Here is what we learned:

  • Mangoes, lychees, and childhood memories in ‘Amar Chelebela’

    For me, Amar Chelebela (1991) by Humayun Ahmed would not only be a summer read but also a comfort read, a holiday retreat, a walking tour of a Bangladesh unheard of today, and also a sneak-peak into the daily bustle of a family who redefined literature, science fiction, caricatures, humour and so much more.

  • Summers with Sarat Chandra

    Before my mother bought me a copy of Sarat Shahitya Samagra (2003) one fateful summer back in high school, my exposure to Bangla literature had been limited to Feluda and whatever my textbooks offered.

  • Bibhutibhushan, an unlikely adventurer

    For anyone sitting through heat-stricken afternoons on forever-long summer days, reprieve can come in the form of escape into a fictional world, and Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay is a master at offering it.

  • Rizia Rahman, an antidote to apathy

    For lovers of short story collections, Rizia Rahman’s Char Doshoker Golpo (2011) can be great company on lazy afternoons. Rahman is undoubtedly among the finest writers of literature in Bangladesh, yet her craft goes unnoticed by many from the younger generations today.

  • The Bengali summer read

    Come June, the season of light reading arrives with the promise of filling lazy afternoons freed from school work or, for adults who can’t manage a vacation, escape in the form of relaxing books.

  • Himu of the summer flings

    During my adolescent years, I devoted a significant portion of my time exploring the idea of ‘summer love’. The cinephile in me went from cheesy Disney Channel flicks like Lizzie McGuire: The Movie (2003) to masterpieces like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (2012), while the bibliophile in me devoured Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name (2007) and John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines (2006). However, I had to acknowledge all the ways in which these stories didn’t feel relatable to me. Being a Bengali, I’ve grown up reading about the intense romance shared by Devbabu and Paro or watching the pangs of unrequited love in Satyajit Ray’s Charulata (1964). Should I then dismiss the ‘summer fling’ as an irrelevant Western trope? A thing of the sunny Florida beaches and umbrella topped cocktails?

  • Manifesto 2020

    Anisul Hoque, Translated from the Bengali by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam Do you know, Mr Trump, for deaths of thousands of Americans you’re responsible? You’re liable for the heartrending laments of millions of

  • On White privilege and Islam

    Islam is practised by 1.6 billion people across the world. But when you grow up in a predominantly Muslim country like Bangladesh, it can often exist as a localised concept in your head.

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