Book Reviews | The Daily Star
  • The Thrawn legacy: From page to screen, the greatest addition to ‘Star Wars’ mythology

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—or 44 years ago in US cinemas on May 25, to be exact—a phenomenon was born. Today, we know the release as Episode IV: A New Hope but back when it came out in 1977, the film was more prominently known by the title which permeates throughout the world today: Star Wars.

  • Top reads to better understand the horrors of Palestine

    With settler colonialism and apartheid taking place in Palestine—with at least 227 Palestinians, 64 of them children, having been killed over the last 11 days

  • Project Shohay: Book auction to support sex workers

    Project Shohay, a fundraising campaign jointly organised by Litmosphere and the youth-led sexual awareness organisation Bodol, launched on Tuesday, May 18, with the aim of creating employment opportunities for women in “floating” sex work.

  • Life and literature in footnotes

    “Kichudin jabot Dhakay cholchhe prochur gorom, abar eki shathe shaolar gondho chorano brishti hochhe.” The incessant heat and rainfall, the month of May, the lull of Eid holidays and the call of books, films, and music are just some of the elements that make Apurba Jahangir’s Footnotes (Subarna, 2021) a fitting read for this time of the year.

  • Fatherhood, loss, and healing in Colum McCann’s ‘Apeirogon’

    On September 4, 1997, Smadar Elhanan was killed while shopping with friends when Palestinian suicide bombers detonated themselves in downtown Jerusalem.

  • Kelly Link’s ‘The Summer People’ and an escape from writer’s block

    On the tail end of “The Lottery” in the summer of 1948, Shirley Jackson finished writing in one morning’s worth of work her underappreciated short story, “The Summer People”.

  • ‘Ja Ichcha Tai’: New activity book seeks to ignite creativity in adults

    In a break from activity books for children containing games, images, and writing instructions, Shuvashish Roy, a postgraduate of creativity, innovation, and business strategy from the University of Exeter, has written the first-ever creative journal in the Bangla language, Ja Ichcha Tai (Protik Prokashana Sangstha, 2021), which promises its fair share of fun-loving and creative exercises for adults.

  • Comic book free-for-all: First issues to get you hooked on a feeling

    Here are 7 single issues that can serve as gateways into the superhero worlds.

  • The books that went to war

    The books authored and published during a war always have an archival quality; they capture the time in its crudest form. They are a seamless blend

  • Ramadan reading: Authors who write about Muslim lives

    Away from the festivities and communal interactions that make Ramadan special, this year, books seem like a fitting avenue through which we can explore the lives of Muslims across the world. From biographies to novels, for children and for adults, these authors have penned stories that are both wholesome and enlightening.

  • At Night All Blood is Black: All that war leaves behind

    At Night All Blood Is Black (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020; transl. Anna Moschovakis), shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize, is a

  • ‘Shadow and Bone’: Fantasy adaptation done right

    With the demise of Game of Thrones, Netflix seems best poised to offer a replacement—with The Witcher gearing for a second season and now

  • An anarchist retelling of Tintin

    The globetrotting hero-reporter, he of the blonde quiff and the plus four trousers, had many an adventure throughout a 46-year-long run under

  • UPL’s open-for-all book review contest

    On the occasion of World Book Day 2021, The University Press Limited (UPL) have initiated a literary criticism competition to be held from April 23 to May 31, the first part of which is set to conclude at 12 PM on May 7. The competition will be conducted virtually through Facebook, with every participant receiving an additional 5 percent discount on top of the ongoing discount on any order placed through the UPL page on the social media website. In addition, five contestants will be awarded UPL coupons at the end of the competition.

  • Creating an appetite for Bangladeshi fiction

    A good story is hard to find. Niaz Zaman, the editor of The Demoness: The Best Bangladeshi Short Stories, 1971-2021 (Aleph Book Company, 2021), has found 27 “best” short stories to create an appetite for Bangladeshi fiction.

  • Between the two partitions of Bengal

    In my book, Identity of a Muslim Family in Colonial Bengal: Between Memories and History (Peter Lang, NYC, 2021), I focus on the era of pre-Partition Bengal, trekking through old family recollections, oral anecdotes, memoirs, and other available books and documents on pre-independence India, and blend them with the larger history of British Bengal.

  • An ode to cricket, taken with a pinch of salt

    The Commonwealth of Cricket: A Lifelong Love Affair with the Most Subtle and Sophisticated Game Known to Humankind (HarperCollins India, 2020) is Ramachandra Guha’s latest book on cricket. It is his ode to a game his mother introduced him to at the age of four, and his father told him stories of.

  • Listening to Shankha at dusk: a requiem for a poet

    My late grandmother would immerse herself in the rhapsodic melody of Muhammad Iqbal’s poems in Urdu, recite them aloud while taking a stroll around the house and say, “Eta ek alada shaad, banglay er khoj milbe na—this is a different taste, one wouldn’t find it in Bangla”. A few years later, Shankha Ghosh’s masterful translations of Iqbal’s poems would appear in the anthology, Iqbal Theke (Papyrus, 2013). My grandmother was so delighted to be proven wrong. This is one atop a long list of reasons why I am indebted to Ghosh—for the sweetest memory of my grandma.

  • Mentorship opportunity for South Asian writers from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan

    A new British Council-funded project, Write Beyond Borders, is set to kickstart its inaugural episode from May-October 2021. The program is designed for “emerging writers” of South Asian background, who can be based anywhere in the UK, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. The deadline for application, which should include a covering letter and a writing sample of no more than 2,000 words, is April 30, 2021.

  • Five new books I enjoyed reading this month

    During the recent weeks of lockdown, these five books—ranging from historical fiction to memoirs to fantasy to romance—allowed me to disappear into stories, to live many lives, and they reminded me how vast the world was and will soon again be.

  • The allure of a book

    It happened on a slow morning during my university English literature class. We had just finished reading one of Roald Dahl’s lesser-known short stories, “Skin”, published in The New Yorker in 1952. The lecturer called upon the class to present their analyses of the short story. When it was my turn to speak, I became tongue-tied as my mind slowly went blank. It had been close to four years since I had picked up a book.

  • Tracing South Asian Muslim civilisation through food

    Desi Delicacies: Food Writing from Muslim South Asia (Pan Macmillan India, 2020) is a delightful anthology edited by Claire Chambers—no stranger to the lifestyle of Muslims.

  • The writers of ‘Golden: Bangladesh at 50’ tell their tales

    In Golden: Bangladesh at 50 (University Press Ltd, 2021) edited by Shazia Omar, 23 of Bangladesh’s eminent writers and poets—including Kaiser Haq, Arif Anwar, Shabnam Nadiya, Farah Ghuznavi, and others—find home for their varied expressions of Bangladeshi life, culture, history, love, hate, as well as the lulls that defined our quarantined existence this past year.

  • A hope grows in “Borderland”

    I discovered Olga Tokarczuk in 2018 after having lapped up the contents of Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017), a novel, written in fragments, that invites obsessive reading, winning Tokarczuk and her brilliant translator Jennifer Croft no less than the Man Booker International prize that same year.

  • To drown is to be free in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘The Water Dancer’

    The Water Dancer (Random House, 2020) follows the life of one Hiram Walker, whose biological mother is a slave and father a slaver. Born as a slave bound to the shackles of a plantation in Virginia, Hiram is unique from the others who work beside him. He has a sharp and photogenic memory. And as he grows up with a pang of grief left by the absence of his mother, he discovers another life-changing superpower: Conduction, a form of teleporting through time and space and inspired by Harriet Tubman’s phenomenal work of secretly ferrying slaves to freedom. His extraordinary powers bring him under the mercy of some privilege—like private tutoring alongside his white half-brother—that other slaves cannot enjoy.

  • ‘The Nickel Boys’: An exploration of racism and abuse of power in 1960s American South

    In the American South, until the 1960s, Jim Crow laws legalised racial segregation in every sphere, starting from education to transportation. It took the Civil Rights Movement and a series of Supreme Court decisions and laws passed by the Congress to finally dismantle the nightmarish structure that legally kept African-Americans shackled well into the 1960s. The shadow of these laws loiters even today.

  • Moxie: A whitewashed account of second-wave feminism

    I’ve lost count of the number of people who have recommended Jennifer Mathieu’s best-selling book Moxie (Roaring Brook Press, 2017) to me. All I ever saw about the book were torrents of positive reviews on social media, one following another.

  • Sehri Tales 2021 kicks off

    After three successful years of sehri-time storytelling, Sehri Tales is back with their annual month-long “boot camp for creativity”. The fourth iteration started off with the prompt “Mercy” on April 14, 2021.

  • A look into 50 years of Bangladesh-India relations

    Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan, may have separated from India in 1947, but the centuries of shared history, society, politics, culture, and religion remain etched in the countries’ fabric. Some decades later, Bangladesh, too, carved out a space for themselves, becoming an independent nation with the help of India’s military operations in December of 1971. Thus, the Liberation War connected Bangladesh and India as historic allies, a relationship that has carried over through the years, with varying congeniality. Fifty Years of Bangladesh-India Relations: Issues, Challenges and Possibilities (Om Publications, 2021), evaluates these “contested” relations between the two countries from various perspectives, from both a contemporary and historical standpoint.

  • The essence of Pohela Baishakh in Bangla literature

    All things colourful make up the Bangla New Year—boisterous celebrations of nature, art work, music, food, the quintessential Bengali warmth, and the Mongol Shobhajatra as its crowning jewel.