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Why There are No Noyontara Flowers in Agargaon Colony

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Why There are No Noyontara Flowers in Agargaon Colony

Why There are No Noyontara Flowers in Agargaon Colony: Stories By Shahidul Zahir, Translated by V. Ramaswamy is on stands now. 

Born in 1953 in Old Dhaka, Shahidul Zahir published only six works in his short life – but these are some of the most unique and powerful works of fiction to have come out of the subcontinent. With his own particular blend of surrealism, folklore, oral storytelling traditions, magic realism, a searing understanding of social and political reality, and rare clarity of vision, he created a truly extraordinary oeuvre. 

A moholla caught in a time warp… 

A down-on-their-luck husband and wife who are stalked by ravens… 

A magician who sells addictive figs… 

A pair of thieving monkeys… 

In these pages of Why There are No Noyontara Flowers in Agargaon Colony is the world of the moholla, where rumours and gossip abound and where everyone knows everyone, where seemingly bizarre yet intriguing creations deliver profound comme ntary on post-independence Bangladesh. Superbly translated by V. Ramaswamy, each of these ten stories takes you beyond the rules of language and storytelling, into a place that is at once achingly familiar and terrifying.

V. Ramaswamy has translated Subimal Misra’s The Golden Gandhi Statue from America: Early StoriesWild Animals Prohibited: Stories, Anti-Stories, and This Could Have Become Ramayan Chamar’s Tale: Two Anti-Novels, Manoranjan Byapari’s novel The Runaway Boy, and Memories of Arrival: A Voice from the Margins by Adhir Biswas. His translation of Shahidul Zahir’s Life and Political Reality: Two Novellas was published in 2022. 

He says, ‘I started reading Shahidul Zahir’s stories on a friend’s urging – and was entranced and ensnared from the very first sentence. As I read on, and then finished the next story, I wondered – has anyone ever even thought of writing a story like this! Zahir is no less than one of the great storytellers of the world. A master of prose, who crafted a distinct style, with a unique vision and voice. He writes about the common folk, and their habitat. And he writes about memory and forgetting. His writing brings to mind writers as varied as Isaac Bashevis Singer, RK Narayan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Jose Saramago, but for me as a translator, his writing is uniquely Bangladeshi. Zahir is an ambassador of the soil of Bangladesh, her people, and their language, in all its verve and pungency. Language is after all the raison d’être of Bangladesh. Equally, Zahir is primarily a political writer, someone who stands outside, and speaks harsh truths, which he delivers like a punch in the face. Perhaps that is why his genius is yet to be fully recognized even in his own country. As someone dedicated to translating voices from the margins in Bangla, I feel humbled to have translated Shahidul Zahir for publication on the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh. I hope that the world of literature will know and celebrate this master, this shooting star in the firmament of literature, as one of its own.’ 



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