- Language: English
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Pages: 144 pages
- Format: Paperback
- Author: Nabaneeta Dev Sen
- Translator: Soma Das
- Publishing Date: 31st July 2017
- Publisher: Niyogi Books
- ISBN-10: 8193393511
- ISBN-13: 978-8193393512
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Let me start off by saying that this is the first book by Ms. Nabaneeta Dev Sen which I have read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Apart from being Amartya Sen’s first wife, Ms. Sen is one of the most versatile Bengali female writers of India. This fictional tale is about Bipasha Chowdhury, who was forced leave her motherland during the tumultuous era of 1970’s when Naxalite moment was at its peak in West Bengal. She lived in London for few years and gradually became a renowned author and poet in English language.
The main story takes place in 1974 socialist Czechoslovakia, where Bipasha is currently attending a writers’ conference cum residency programme. She meets various local and international authors during her visit amongst which Professor Yohan stands out for his unmasked flirtatious nature. He is a professor in local university of Bratislava and is also a well-known name in the local communist party. Slowly as she gets to know him more, she understands the sanctimonious nature of communism. We also get a peek into her hidden past which was wrapped around Naxalbari movement. She starts to compare her past with her present situation in a socialist state to comprehend where she stands. In the end, Bipasha finally escapes the guilt which haunted her for so long and gets a closure.
Though set against the backdrop of communism and naxalite movement, it is not a political story. This story is about Bipasha and her journey towards self-discovery. She is professionally successful but her personal life is hollow. Unknowingly in a foreign land, she finds the answers she was looking for all her life.
I read the book on the eve of Diwali. The story felt like a breath of fresh air in the smog-ridden night. This is a tranquil and unrushed story which takes you to a world of bygone era. There is a certain charm in this story, just like Satyajit Ray movies. At first you’ll feel that nothing is happening. But gradually it grows on you so much that it won’t let you concentrate on anything else. The novel is skillfully written to present the forlorn truth of communism. This little book deals with many hidden truths. Such as people’s secret desires, double standard of socialism, real face of revolution, lonely side of idealism etc. But most of all it enlightens us about certain kind of people who are never truly content when they are away from their homeland.
The book is impeccably translated by Ms. Soma Das. I never felt lost or perplexed, while reading the book. There are very few translators who can translate the essence of the story and Ms. Das is one of them. I will definitely recommend the book to those readers who want to read quality Bengali fiction but can’t due to linguistic hurdle.
My Rating: 4.5/5
Niyogi Books and I are giving away two hardcover copies of In A Foreign Land, By Chance. Giveaway is open for Indian Residents only and ends on 1st November, 2017. To participate check my Instagram account. (CLOSED)