Sunday, March 7, 2010

Insightful tales

With first-hand experience of war and displacement, Mahmud Rahman weaves together a beautiful set of stories.

From being a witness to a bloody war that led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 to being a Third World migrant in the United States, Mahmud Rahman has had first-hand experience of what is called “the effects of war, migration and displacement.” This is why he is successful in weaving all those experiences together in the beautiful and illuminating set of stories for his debut collection.
Killing The Water starts off on an auspicious note. The opening story, “City Shoes in the Village”, is set in undivided India of the 1930s and tells the story of Altaf who returns to his impoverished village in eastern Bengal to see his family after living in Calcutta for many years.
Altaf is remorseful for shying away from his duties as an eldest son, and the author portrays his guilt-stricken conscience and dilemma with lucidity.
The best story is “Kerosene”. Set against the backdrop of the 1971 war and told from a Bangladeshi nationalist's point of view, it exposes the chilling horrors of war and shows how even a non-violent and mild-mannered society can lose its sanity during great socio-political upheaval.
In the first paragraph, women and small children, all post-Partition refugees from India, are burnt alive by a Bengali mob.
This scene is a powerful reminder of the fact that equations between two social groups change drastically with time and circumstances.

Full report here The Hindu

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