Book Reviews | The Daily Star
  • ‘Ajob Deshe Alice’: Alice’s adventures now in Bangla

    Alice’s Adventures in the Wonderland (1865)

  • Must reads out from Bangladesh in 2020

    The 40 poems and photographs of wooden sculptors in Water Bodies reflect poet-artist Nabil Rahman’s experiences with art, immigration, intergenerational trauma, artificial intelligence, spirituality, and more.

  • In the heart of anxiety

    I picked up Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019) while trying to find a good therapist in this dreary land.

  • Orwell’s ‘1984’ was a warning, not a prediction

    Two strange events took place in November 2016; Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 48th President of the United States, and George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, suddenly became a best seller again.

  • Growing up with ‘Archie’ comics

    As a tiny five-year old in the ’80s, I first discovered and liberated an Archie comic from a teenage cousin the way oil rich countries are liberated: by force. I used superior tactics of crying, pleading, whining and bargaining.

  • There will be darkness again

    As humans we teeter on the oddest of precipices. We are only animals: apes unusually adept at surviving Earth’s harsh playbook for life. Like the multitude of organisms we share it with, we live, multiply, and without exception, we die.

  • BACK TO SCHOOL: Campus novels worth revisiting

    Instead of the thrill of meeting friends and professors in a bustling, energised campus, going back to school only involves a computer this September.

  • Submission and surveillance in Suzanne Collins’ dystopia

    Twelve years ago, Suzanne Collins introduced us to The Hunger Games (Scholastic Press), a dystopian world where children fight to their televised deaths in a brutal annual competition.

  • The stillness of human wandering

    When we think of migration, the images in our collective narratives are constructed primarily with masses of people on the move, leaving places they belong in for foreign lands. In her latest book, Sonia Shah, an American science journalist and author, critically takes apart the boundaries around human wandering both in our lands and our mind-sets.

  • Bollywood’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’: Okay? Not Okay?

    When The Fault in Our Stars (2012) first released, it brought on a powerful surge of change, not only in our reading lists, but in our perception of terminal and mental diseases and even to the genre itself.

  • Crimes that history cannot absolve

    Korean literature has been enjoying a literary renaissance for quite some time through translation, from the likes of Hang Kang’s beguiling yet gruesome novel, The Vegetarian (2007) to Yeonmi Park’s heart wrenching memoir, In Order to Live (2015).

  • New publication on UK Bengali settlement out on Kindle

    Migration of Bengalis from South Asia to the outside world started with taking up jobs as lascars (sailors) in the British East India Company's ships which carried precious goods from the Indian subcontinent, such as spice, tea and cotton. In addition, from the second half of the nineteenth century, Bengali educated and wealthy gentlemen began travelling to England mainly to pursue higher education.

  • Humanity, freedom, and magic realism in the face of authoritarian powers

    On April 1, 1979, after years of tensions between Western and Islamic values, Iran became an Islamic Republic. Theocracy triumphed monarchy and a massive crackdown on “un-Islamic” ways of life swept across the country, suffocating intellectual, cultural, personal, and physical freedom under the weight of a stringent regime.

  • Are we reading ‘A Seaman’s Wife’ the right way?

    Something that has always fascinated me about Bangladeshi literature is it’s attachment to and exploration of space—be it in prose, poetry, or music, almost all Bangladeshi and even Bengali literary work engages with how we are impacted by land, home, country, season, and other natures of charged atmosphere.

  • SHUTTER STORIES: Books to read on World Photography Day

    Ironically a book without images or photographs, On Photography collects American philosopher, filmmaker and activist Susan Sontag’s essays on the history of photography, its inherent voyeurism, and how it affects the way we perceive and experience the modern world through an often capitalist lens.

  • A Burning: Good Books Are Hard to Read

    Good books – even as they are arresting – are often hard to read. This is not because they are difficult in themselves so much because oftheir content.

  • Has young adult fantasy become rote as a genre?

    Everyone had them on their bookshelves. Everyone read them and fawned over them. Online stores were getting creative with the contents of these young-adult fantasy books, coming up with themed candles, beautifully designed bookmarks, and exclusive sticker packs. It was almost as though the genre had developed a cult following of its own.

  • To stitch a tapestry of trauma

    A good book stays with a reader long after they’ve read the last word and placed it back on the shelf. It leaves an impression on the mind, whether because the action was exhilarating, the characters raw and real, or because reading it felt like coming back to a home you never knew you had.

  • The fires of Partition in East Bengal

    Three years before Maloy Krishna Dhar’s death, his memoir, Train to India: Memories of Another Bengal (Penguin India, 2009), came out. Born in a sleepy village of Kamalpur in the Bhairab-Mymensingh region next to Meghna and Brahmaputra, Dhar had an illustrious career as a teacher, journalist, intelligence officer, and writer.

  • The road not taken, in books

    One day many years ago, discovering my cousin’s tattered copy of a Give Yourself Goosebumps book completely changed my ideas about what books could be.

  • Beyond the pages of Anne Frank’s diary

    On the first day of this month, 76 years ago, Anne Frank wrote her last diary entry. Three days later, on August 4, the building she was hiding in with her family and four family friends was raided by the Gestapos.

  • A book’s plea for a better internet

    “Happily, the Web is so huge that there’s no way any one company can dominate it,” wrote Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1999.

  • Earth calls the soul in ‘Inner State’

    “A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.”

  • 'Shirley' crystallises Shirley Jackson’s contested legacy

    Shirley (2020), directed by Josephine Decker and adapted by Sarah Gubbins from the 2014 eponymous novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, interweaves fact and fiction into an imagined narrative about the time when author Shirley Jackson was writing her second novel Hangsaman (1951).

  • Technicolour Mughals: Ira Mukhoty brings Akbar to life

    Humans are a storytelling species. Yet history, which is but the stories of yesteryears, is taught like a chain of facts and dates.

  • A rare glimpse into Muslim homes

    Diversity can seem jaded when it is employed for the sake of appearing “woke”.

  • Conversations from the Daily Star Book Club

    On the Daily Star Book Club last week, we asked members how they organise and look after their book collections at home. Here is what we learned:

  • Mangoes, lychees, and childhood memories in ‘Amar Chelebela’

    For me, Amar Chelebela (1991) by Humayun Ahmed would not only be a summer read but also a comfort read, a holiday retreat, a walking tour of a Bangladesh unheard of today, and also a sneak-peak into the daily bustle of a family who redefined literature, science fiction, caricatures, humour and so much more.

  • Summers with Sarat Chandra

    Before my mother bought me a copy of Sarat Shahitya Samagra (2003) one fateful summer back in high school, my exposure to Bangla literature had been limited to Feluda and whatever my textbooks offered.

  • Bibhutibhushan, an unlikely adventurer

    For anyone sitting through heat-stricken afternoons on forever-long summer days, reprieve can come in the form of escape into a fictional world, and Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay is a master at offering it.