I recently managed to get the copy of the book Shomoyer Baire by Anupam Roy. It released this year (2014) in Kolkata and has already been lapped up by fans and readers alike.
Unfortunately, I could not find the book on any online store or any book store here, so I contacted the publishing house and asked them to send me a copy. You can do this if you are based outside Kolkata, and can have the option of COD too!
Before I talk more about the book, here's a quick look at the details:
Details about the book:
Title: Shomoyer Baire
Author: Anupam Roy
No. of pages: 125
Publishers: Dey's Publishing
About the book (synopsis):
The book is a look at the life of Biplab (which means revolution in Bengali). The protagonist goes through various experiences throughout his life, all of which are drawn upon through various times in his life. The many experiences clash with each other, connect with each other, and through these, the reader gets a glimpse into his life, into his personality, and how the protagonist evolves through time, and why he does the things he does.
My take on the book:
For someone who is not fluent in reading Bangla (it takes me ages to read the script, and THIS is the first Bengali book that I have finished!) this book was the answer to - how to create a book in Bengali that is great on the subject, is interesting and still can be read easily.
For starters, the book is tiny (especially for those who are comfortable with the script.) It took me half a day to finish it off, in the midst of work and other commitments. So if you have free time, you can easily read it in the lesser part of an hour.
The cover is where you can see the mark of an artist. It is simply beautiful, I loved the way the old buildings have been shot in a different angle. It instantly reminds me of the old style houses I have seen in some parts of Kolkata, and that are so present in my memory of the city. I love latticed windows, those long verandas that spin so many different stories of co-existence, and this book and its cover brings all that alive.
Coming to the tone used in the book, it is very 'today.' The sentences are easy to read and understand, though there are some very difficult words that I didn't understand, and a few sentences or phrases too. But that is only due to my lack of the language. The book is very modern and contemporary in its setting and handling. It deals with 'today' 'the now' of how the city and its people are now. It does not drag you down as a reader to times that are way past gone or beyond your comprehension. This is precisely why it manages to keep you interested through all the 125 pages and makes you feel as if you are reading that could be happening to you, right at this moment.
The book begins with our protagonist talking about a girl, the smile only half way real on her lips. He mentions her like in passing, as an after-thought, and leaves it at that.
The main story begins with our protagonist talking about a childhood, where he never did manage to finish an exam paper and attempt all the questions to reach the 100 mark. This sort of not-doing spills over to his later years as a student where he is seen confused about deciding what career path to choose and how to go about it.
In many ways, Biplab is an anti-hero. I felt he is an anti-hero in the way of his not being the typical hero, where the man is generally good at everything - at dealing with life, at dealing with women, and many women at that, at his many relationships and such. On the other hand, our Biplab is a more endearing character, in the sense that he is a part of all of us. He is not the go-getter who is confident of ruling the world. His life is fraught with confusion and there are moments when he does nothing really, even when he should.
Our hero is not very lucky in love either. He is tongue tied, he is confused, he has none of that unabashed confidence that so many protagonists seem to have these days. Biplab can't go up and tell a woman what he feels, though he may be thinking of her, but that's just not happening in real for him. There is a constant tussle, to do or not to do.
Most of the time, it is not to do. The shove that could have aided the push never arrives.
And that is where I found the character completely believable.
The book was a great way to open me up to the everyday existence, daily living in a city as beautiful and lyrical as Kolkata. I have been there a few times, and I find there is a certain charm in the city, that I never managed to notice when I visited there as a kid sometimes. Also, there is a certain naivete to the people in Kolkata, a certain innocence, and a lot of sweetness. I find all that reflected in the book to a great extent.
The one main theme that runs constant in the book is its sense in non-sense. It manages to create a sort of craziness that is so systematic and believable that it actually makes sense. Sometimes a book can fall flat owing to its craziness, sometimes it can reach new heights because of it. This book does just that. Most of those who have read this book or want to read it are already aware of Anupam Roy's talents. His play of words is not something that is new to us. His songs, his poetry, his writing have already established him as a person of words. This book takes all that to the next level.
If you have read Steve Toltz's A Fraction of The Whole, then you would relate to this book even better in terms of its craziness. But there is so much sense in the entire jumble of worlds and emotions and experiences that you end up coming out with a lot of meaningful moments.
Of course there is a lot of clash of ideas and ideologies and themes - but that I will not discuss here, as it will be too much of a read.
The story flits in time, and the switch is very easily merged, there are no harsh edges and the different time frames blend in very well.
I really loved the book, and I give it 5 hearts, really loved it :) and do recommend you read it.....
- Debolina Raja Gupta