Dakkhin Asiar Diaspora Shahitya: Itihash, Tatta o Shongkot: A Book on South Asian Diaspora by Mojaffor Hossain
Cover design by Dhrubo Esh. Price TK 325. Panjeri Publishers, 2020
Diaspora literature is an integral part of the literary scenario today. When people migrate from their own country and settle abroad for whatever reason and employ in writing creatively featuring their lives and struggles, it enters the category of diaspora literature. The significant themes of diaspora literature include leaving home, nostalgia for one's homeland, the loneliness one faces in a new country, adjusting with the culture of the foreign land, and often creating a new identity for oneself. In the twenty-first century, the number of moving people has increased to such an extent that the time is being identified as the "Age of Diaspora." A large number of diasporic writers originally are from Asia. Many such names as Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Rohinton Mistry, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Ondaatje, Hanif Kureishi, Khaled Hosseini, Anita Desai, Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee among others have risen prominently in the last few decades. It might be noted that these writers are more popular in their diasporic abodes than the countries they left behind.
Through the last one decade, diaspora literature has grown to be widely included in various syllabi across the world. Unfortunately, there has not been much discussion and writing in Bengali language. True that we have seen some scattered articles by some writers on the topic, but the need to see a complete volume has been felt. Mojaffor Hossain, just did that. Hossain is more known as a short-story writer, but he has also written on the world literature. His fluent prose has turned the difficult topic of diaspora literature into an easy read. The title of his book is Dakkhin Asiar Diaspora Shahitya: Itihash, Tatta o Shongkot (Diaspora literature of South Asia: History, Theory and Problem). In the first part of his book, he has talked about the history of the people of South Asia. Then he moves on to cover the theoretical aspects. In the second part, he discusses the authors from different South Asian countries, especially those from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. An important segment of the book covers Bangladeshi diaspora writing. He looks at the diaspora literature written in both Bengali and English. He also brings in the Bangladeshi-Bihari and Rohingya literature. He has attempted to understand the cultural and socio-political standing of the Biharis in Bangladesh. In this section, he has also addressed the diasporic tension caused by the partition of 1947. This is an aspect that has not been too widely discussed in the outer world.
The third section of the book showcases some very interesting articles on diaspora literature. There are some detailed discussions on Naipaul, Rushdie, Ishiguro, Jhumpa Lahiri and Rohinton Mistry. The problems of reading the diaspora writers have been addressed; e.g. why they are not so much accepted in their home-countries. At the end of the volume, the author has added a section interviewing a few of the diaspora authors from Bangladesh. There is a section where a lively adda takes place among five young diaspora writers.
This book marks a significant point because this is the first of its kind published in Bangladesh. Various aspects of diaspora have been covered in Bengali too. Second, some unaddressed issues of Bangladeshi literature have come up here.
Muhammad Mehedi Hasan is a mystery and thriller writer.