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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Bengal Write Ahead - Book Review


Recently the West Bengal Assembly approved a resolution for changing the name of the state from West Bengal to Bengal in English and Bangla in Bengali. There could not have been any other opportune moment for the release of the book Bengal Write Ahead. This anthology contains the fifty stories on Bengal from the contest conducted on facebook. Though the title says they are stories, they are actually small write-ups about Bengal.

Durga Puja to Bengal is what Diwali is to the rest of the country. It excites the young as well as old Bengalis. No wonders most of the writers chose to write about it. Bengalis love their food. So there is maer haater raana or food cooked by mother’s hand. There is mangsho-bhaat, mishti doi and Phuchhka i.e paani puri.

Bengali’s love for football and films is well known. Many writers write about the Bengali cinema, its stars and directors. So do they about the largest football stadium in Kolkota.

They write about the communal harmony and the peaceful co-existence of various religions in the same lane. They write about Feluda and they write about Byomkesh Bakshi. They write about the books street in Kolkota. They write about glittering Victoria and the underground metro. They admire their laid back attitudes.

In every post the love for Bengal is evident. Few posts are in Bengali and being a non-Bengali I was not able to read it. Alzheimer by Mehuli Saha Ray deserves a special mention. It is the only post which can indeed be called a story in this collection. She weaves it in a very novel way.

Most of the posts are more about Kolkota then Bengal. The rural, rustic Bengal has no place in this book. The poor working class, the rickshaw puller do not exist in this Bengal. I wish even these people and classes were part of the book.

I have visited Kolkota and I have loved it. So I loved reading this book.

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