Arunava Sinha in Conversation with Tahmima Anam: The Penguin Book of Bengali Short Stories

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Join authors Arunava Sinha and Tahmima Anam as they discuss The Penguin Book of Bengali Short Stories, published on March 24th. A first in English, this anthology gathers together a century’s worth of extraordinary stories that celebrate making art of life, in all its difficulty and joy.

Brick Lane Bookshop / 12th March, 7pm / £5 per ticket

The prose short story arrived in Bengal in the wake of British colonizers, and Bengali writers quickly made the form their own. By the twentieth century, a profusion of literary magazines and journals meant they were being avidly read by millions. Writers responded to this hunger for words with a ferocious energy which reflected the turmoil of their times: these stories covered land wars, famine, the caste system, religious conflict, patriarchy, Partition and the liberation war that saw the emergence of the independent country of Bangladesh. Across these shifting geographical borders, writers also looked inward, evolving new literary styles and stretching the possibilities of social realism, political fiction and intimate domestic tales.

A first in English, this anthology gathers together a century’s worth of extraordinary stories. From a woman who eats fish in secret to the woes of an ageing local footballer, from the anxieties of a middle-class union rep to a lawyer who stumbles upon a philosopher’s stone, this is a collection that celebrates making art of life, in all its difficulty and joy.

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Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and non-fiction from Bangladesh and India into English. He also translates fiction from English into Bengali. Over eighty of his translations have been published so far in India, the UK and the USA. He teaches creative writing at Ashoka University, where he is also the co-director of the Ashoka Centre for Translation.

Tahmima Anam is a Bangladeshi-born British writer, novelist and columnist. Her first novel, A Golden Age, was the Best First Book winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes. Her follow-up novel, The Good Muslim, was nominated for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. Her latest novel, The Startup Wife, was published by Canongate in 2021.