Bangladesh’s Shaheen Akhtar has won the 3rd Asian Literary Award for her novel “Talaash”.
Published in 2004, “Talaash” is about the suffering of Birangona women – survivors of sexual violence during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
The award was announced on November 1 at the Asian Literature Festival 2020. Asian writers, writing in their native language, gets the award.
Twenty-nine Asian writers including Man Booker Prize-winning author Han Kang joined this year’s festival.
Shaheen Akhter will get prize money of 20 million won or $17,500 and “Talaash” will be adapted as a performance piece at the next Asia Literature Festival.
About her book, Kim Nam-il, novelist and the award committee chair, said: “Imperialism and colonialism, war and violence, the deceptions of war criminals, mistreatment of independence fighters, and ongoing ill-treatment of rape victims are all interwoven in the narrative of the novel.”
Also, Nam-il compared “Talaash” with Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of the War,” calling it “one of the greatest feminist anti-war docu-novels of our time.”
“The novel’s protagonist, Maryam, who finds herself caught in the snare of dualities, enters another world in which she and a companion enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Birangonas, holds its own as one of the most sublime scenes in contemporary literature.”
Zubaan, a New Delhi based publishing house, published the English translation of Shaheen’s novel as “The Search” in 2011. Also, Seung Hee Jeon and Farhana Shashi translated the work into Korean in 2016.
Born in 1962, Shaheen is well-known for her novels “Palabar Poth Nei” and “Sokhi Rongomala” – later translated as “Beloved Rongomala” in 2018.
She won the Bangla Academy Literary Award and Akhtaruzzaman Elias Literary Award in 2015 for her novel “Moyur Shinghashon.”
Her latest novel “Ashukhi Din” delves into the Partition of Bengal.
Shaheen is now working as a human rights professional at Ain O Salish Kendra.
Source: United News of Bangladesh