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Manabjameen: Untilled Earth

Book Title
Manabjameen: Untilled Earth
Supernova Publishers
5 days

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  • A classic of Bengali fiction, now available to a wider (global) audience.
  • A novel whose sensibility remains contemporary, especially to an urban audience.

Set in the troubled last quarter of the twentieth century, Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay's Manabjameen is an expansive saga that charts the course of many lives that move in counterpoint, such that even solitude is moored in the other's shadow. Amidst a panoply of characters the careers of three sets of people stand out in high relief. In each of these three sets the happiness, or unhappiness, of one, or two, is ineluctably enmeshed with, and consequent upon, a third.

Srinath and Trisha's marriage has already fallen apart. Srinath's elder brother, Mallinath, had bequeathed his property to Trisha, overlooking Srinath. As Trisha takes over the reins of the rural estate Srinath retires to an outhouse, exiling himself in his own home. Consumed by resentment he takes to gambling and womanising his descent down the primrose path is steady. Rumours are rife about Trisha's liaison with Mallinath, and her eldest one's likeness to Mallinath is unmistakable.

Srinath's brother-in-law, Pritam, is battling a disease that is gnawing away at him bit by bit he tries to summon his willpower against the ebb of life. His wife, Bilu, is dutiful but distant. Over their tired lives hovers the bright and breezy Arun, Bilu's college friend. Pritam moves from Kolkata to his childhood home in Siliguri, where his mother looks after him. Bilu comes to pay him a visit she wants to take him back. One morning the household awakens to find Pritam gone.

Srinath's and Bilu's, brother, Deepnath, languishes as a factotum to Mr Bose, a top executive in a middling company. Mr and Mrs Bose are ill matched. Deepnath and Monideepa, i.e. Mrs Bose, come close, only to draw apart. Deepnath rises in life and goes to America—is it to seek a new life or to solemnise the life he has lost? The reader learns from Monideepa that Snigdhadeb, a left leader she had once idolised, had gone to America and sold his soul.

The novel thus weaves its way in and out through the vicissitudes of le amour conjugal, which eludes consummation. The only character who finds any happiness is Crazy Nitai, a half-crazed ne'er-do-well—is it because he knows better than to question his illusions?

Manabjameen is a metaphor wherein man is likened to arable land: the human heart needs to be tilled and tended like fecund soil if it is to yield a harvest of happiness.

Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, born in Bangladesh, has spent his early life in various places including Bihar, Bengal and Assam. With a Masters in Bengali, Mukhopadhyay started his career as a schoolteacher. His first novel Ghunpoka was published in the special Puja edition of Desh magazine.His works include novels and short stories for adults, young adults as well as children and have received a number of accolades and awards.Quite a few of them have also been adapted into films. Manabjameen was bestowed with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1988.

Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay resides in Kolkata.

About the Translator

Soma Das graduated from St Xavier's College, Kolkata. She started her translation career with Kato Ajanarey (The Great Unknown) by Sankar.

Currently, she works as an editor and translator of Bengali literary work into English. She resides in the UK with her husband and two children.

AuthorShirshendu Mukhopadhyay
TranslationFrom Bengali to English
TranslatorSoma Das
Dimension8.5 x 5.5
Distribution RightsWorld Rights

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