|Arshilata: Women’s Fiction from India and Bangladesh
edited by Niaz Zaman
ISBN 984 8715 14 2 2007 192pp 215x136mm HB Tk.375.00 US$23.00
Give a woman a comb and a mirrorand a little leisureand she will arrange her hair, perhaps put kajal in her eyes, a tip on her forehead, or a touch of red on her lips. Whom is she beautifying herself for? Her lover or her husband? Or is she looking at the woman she sees in the mirror? And is she pleased with what she sees? The twenty stories in this collection from Indian and Bangladeshi writers show women their own faces. Separated by language, by food, by religious rituals, by experience, by social status, these women still have something in common. They share the political and social consciousness common to the subaltern or third world writer, but, in addition, they bring to their stories a feminist sensibility that questions gender-based discriminations and deprivations. While some stories show a society in translation, many of the stories seem almost timeless. Using striking details or humour, deeply felt emotions or metaphysical questionings, this small sample of contemporary stories in English or translated from Bangla, Urdu, Telegu, Marathi, Malayalam, and Oriya provide a glimpse into the mirrors of women’s multifaceted experiences.
Niaz Zaman has edited several anthologies, including Under the Krishnachura, From the Delta, and New Age Short Stories. She was consulting editor, Arts and Humanities, for Banglapedia and editor of the Bangladesh Journal of American Studies. From 2003-2005, she was literary editor of New Age, Dhaka. Her creative writings include The Crooked Neem Tree, The Dance and Other Stories, Didima’s Necklace and Other Stories, and History of the Family of Sheikh Gul Mohammad (formerly Ghumman Mal of Bhera) with an account of his conversion and some interesting chronicles of his descendants.
Her other major publications are The Art of Kantha Embroidery, the first book-length study of the kantha, and a study of the Partition, A Divided Legacy: The Partition in Selected Novels of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, which won a National Archives Award. From 1981 to 1983, Dr Zaman was posted to the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington D.C. as Educational Attaché.