My background and philosophy
I think that a diversity of genres and a vigorous bi-culturalism and bilingualism are my hallmarks as a writer, and it is my aim to maintain this quality to the best of my ability. One does not get my true profile if one does not keep track of the many different things I do. I not only write and publish in two languages, Bengali and English, but also in several genres encompassing the creative and research-based modes. I have never severed my links with the literary life of my native Bengal and have been functioning as a writer of the Indian diaspora since the sixties, writing 'transnationally' and publishing extensively in Bengali magazines before I had anything out in book-form.
I am a writer of the Bengali diaspora who is claimed by the Indian-Bengali mainstream and is also read widely in Bangladesh and wherever there are diasporic Bengali-speaking communities in the world. Poetry, essays, and research-based books I write in both languages; I also translate happily between the two languages, in both directions. I belong to that small minority of poets who write original poetry in two languages, and I consider it a privilege of my life to be able to publish poetry in the little magazines of two distinct cultures, thus being in touch with the poetic pulse and 'grassroots' in each. Fiction and drama I have so far written only in Bengali, because these genres require the observation and incorporation of larger chunks of the social narrative, and this task is easier for me in Bengali, as my eyes retain a Bengali focus. So my fiction and drama may be set in England, but are written in Bengali.
In some of my books I have deliberately aimed at breaking down the barriers between the creative and the scholarly, which is one of my long-term aims as a writer. Thus my second novel has some important archival research and translation work embedded in it. Translations from the prose of Victoria Ocampo and from Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) songs are part of this novel. Interestingly also, all the research work I have done so far is strongly marked by either an interdisciplinary or an intercultural quality.
Being a bilingual and bi-cultural person, I am particularly interested in the processes of intercultural mediation. I believe that it is necessary to do a modicum of homework to understand another culture, so I think it is important to provide some information in the shape of an introduction and notes to a translated text. A list of my published books, chronologically arranged and inclusive of the two languages, is the best way to give an idea of my identity as an author.
Apart from poems, articles, and reviews which I am writing and publishing all the time, my latest publications are:
Tisidore, a multi-genre book, with literary discourses on two of Bengal’s major authors from the twentieth century, Jibanananda Das and Buddhadeva Bose, and documentary material from English life, within a fictional framework set in England. Published by Ananda Publishers, Calcutta, in November 2008. In 2009 this book brought me a trophy for being the ‘Best Bengali of the Year in Literature’.
Ekabingsha Shatabdite Rabindra-charcha o Anyanyo Probondho, a collection of essays and reviews on various topics, including some with a connection to Rabindranath Tagore , published by Ebang Mushayera of Calcutta in September 2010.
I Won’t Let You Go: Selected Poems of Rabindranath Tagore, my book of translations first published in 1991, was published by Bloodaxe Books in a revised and expanded second edition in September 2010. This is the Poetry Book Society’s Recommended Translation for Autumn 2010. An Indian edition of this second edition will be published by Penguin India in May 2011..
Anyone wishing to contact me should e-mail email@example.com
Updated November 2010