ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unheard Stories of Partitioned Lives

Stories of Social Awakening: Reflections of Dalit Refugee Lives of Bengal by Jatin Bala/(foreword by Antonia Navarro-Tejero, edited by Jaydeep Sarangi), Authorspress, New Delhi, 2017; pp 183, 350.

The refugee is a central political figure in contemporary times. In a world where transfer of populations accompanied by unprecedented violence and sponsored by powerful political actors is being increasingly normalised, a Bengali Dalit writer, himself a refugee, Jatin Bala dedicates his new book titled Stories of Social Awakening: Reflections of Dalit Refugee Lives of Bengal to “all displaced persons who have been forced to cross national boundaries.” The book appears at a crucial moment when millions of people are either forced or voluntarily choose to cross national boundaries everyday—due to the gnawing consequences of political, religious, environmental or economic conditions—in search of new, alien lands, simply to survive.

Bala, in this book, narrates different tales of survival of those who had witnessed one of the highest population transfers in history: partition of Bengal. It is a collection of 12 stories translated from Bengali. The first 11 of these are from the original Samaj Chetanar Galpo (The Story of Consciousness of Society) published by Chaturtha Duniya (The Fourth World)1 in 2012, and the 12th is an English translation that was first published in Muse India (November–December 2012) and has been reprinted here. Edited by Jaydeep Sarangi, faculty of English at Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College in Kolkata, the book begins with his introduction of the author, followed by a discussion on the questions of caste and migration in context of Bengal as reflected in Bengali Dalit literature. The stories, as Sarangi has put it, are “part of a literary movement or social change” (p 10). Antonia Navarro-Tejero, professor at the Universidad de Córdoba has written the foreword to the book.

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Updated On : 17th Oct, 2017
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