Library of Bangladesh Presents Shaheen Akhtar: Beloved Rongomala, a novel

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Written by: Shaheen Akhtar
Translated by: Shabnam Nadiya

Based on an eighteenth-century legend from Bangladesh’s Noakhali region, Beloved Rongomala follows the fortunes of Rongomala, the charismatic low-caste mistress of zamindar Raj Chandra Chowdhury. Chowdhury’s philandering allows his uncle to rob the kingdom of Babupur blind; between his obliviousness and his uncle’s avarice, Babupur becomes enmeshed in inevitable war. Beloved Rongomala introduces readers to enduring characters: the autocratic queen-mother Sumitra; the young queen Phuleshwari with her bird menagerie; Heera, the queen’s chief maid and surrogate mother; feckless zamindar Raj Chandra; and Rongomala, whose rise and fall from grace forms the central arc of the story. Traveling from the feuding kingdoms of southern Bengal, to holy sites in the east, to the flamboyant matriarchal society of Burma, Beloved Rongomala is a story of identity and connection.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shaheen Akhtar is the author of five novels and four short story collections. In 2004, her novel Talaash won the Book of the Year award from Prothom Alo, Bangladesh’s most widely-read newspaper. The English translation of Talaash (The Search) was published by Zubaan in New Delhi in 2011. Akhtar was presented with the Sera Bangali 2014 award in the field of literature by India’s leading Bengali news channel, ABP Ananda. She received the Akhteruzzaman Elias Kothashahitya Puroshkar 2015 and the IFIC Bank Puroshkar for her novel Moyur Shinghashon. She was awarded the Bangla Academy Shahitya Puroshkar for fiction in 2016. Her works have been translated into English, German, and Korean. Akhtar currently works for the Bangladeshi human rights/legal aid organisation Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR: Bangladeshi writer and translator Shabnam Nadiya graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2012. Her translation of Moinul Ahsan Saber’s novel?The Mercenary?(Kobej Lethel) was published by Bengal Lights Books (Dhaka) in 2016 and by Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press in 2018. Her writing and translations have appeared in?Flash Fiction International?(WW Norton),?One World?(New Internationalist) and journals such as Amazon’s?Day One,?Chicago Quarterly Review,?Weber: The Contemporary West,?Wasafiri,?Words Without Borders, and?Gulf Coast. She is currently writing a novel as well as translating Leesa Gazi's debut novel Rourob

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