Last week Jatra celebrated a cultural rooftop evening with Dhaka's top literati to mark the launch of 'Golden: Bangladesh at 50'. The event included three renowned Bangladeshi authors who live and write abroad: Neeman Sobhan (Rome), Srabonti Ali (Washington DC) and Nadia Barb (London).
Curated by Shazia Omar - author of Dark Diamond and Like a Diamond in the Sky, 'Golden: Bangladesh at 50' is an anthology of contemporary short stories and poems published by UPL. It includes pieces by Bangladeshi writers living both in Bangladesh and abroad.
The three authors have collectively portrayed the problems and realities of Bangladesh as well as its beauty and power.
"While teaching, I realised the importance of passing down stories to the new generation to protect against the threat of amnesia regarding history," said Neeman Sobhan at the event. Her story in this collection is titled Bengali Lessons.
Neeman Sobhan is the author of 'Piazza Bangladesh' collection of short stories, and 'Calligraphy of Wet Leaves', a collection of poems, and she teaches English and Bengali at the University of Rome.
Srabonti Ali, author of 'Hope in Technicolor' and 'Broken Voices', contributed a poem called Shades to the anthology. "I wrote this piece to highlight the constant pressure of society that we face. We believe that image is everything and mould ourselves according to what we think people want to see."
"Even when we express sorrow or pain, we do it in a way that is deemed appropriate. I wanted to use colours to show how different names for colours can have different connotations even though they are similar visually," she added.
Nadia Kabir Barb contributed a short story called When Crows Come Calling. She said, "Though the characters and story are fictional, there are some elements that are autobiographical. In 1971, I nearly lost my father to a bullet that missed his heart by a hair's breadth. His survival felt like a miracle…The story is an amalgamation and reimagining of both."
Nadia is the author of 'Truth or Dare' and member of 'The Whole Kahini', a writers' community in London.
Other writers and poets featured in the anthology include Mahmud Rahman, Nadeem Zaman, Sabrina Ahmad, Kaiser Haq, Arif Anwar, Sabahat Jahan, Zeeshan Khan, Abeer Y Hoque, Shabnam Nadiya, Maria Chaudhuri, MK Aaref, Farah Ghuznavi, Munize Manzu, Nahyan Ameen, Pracheta Alam, Salahdin Imam, Namira Hossain and Iffat Nawaz.
Reviews of the book are available on Shazia's website. The book costs Tk 1,000 and can be ordered for delivery from University Press Limited or Bookworm.