Rashid Askari is one of the promising storytellers of our time and an emerging talent in Bangladeshi fiction in English. He is firmly committed to the spirit of our Liberation War of 1971 and the indomitable ‘Bengaliness’ of our people. His intriguingly-named collection of stories Nineteen seventy one and other stories is the quintessence of his deep rooted emotional attachment to the land and its culture and fine literary craftsmanship.
Askari’s stories possess the essential makings of good short fiction. He writes witty, racy stories with surprisingly serious undertones. Picking real-life events from the remote areas and the marginal people of the country and weaving them into various fictional forms are the hallmarks of his storytelling. The perplexing vagaries of the metropolitan life, however, do not escape his attention. His sure diction efficiently captures the subtle nuances of human behaviour. Though not new in a ground-breaking way, his stories are both intense and original. The overall tone of his language is gently sarcastic, although one feels a genuine compassion for the hapless men and women he describes.
Rashid Askari has already made a name for himself in our literary arena for his work in Bangla. This collection of gripping tales, I am sure, will add to his reputation and ensure his place in contemporary fiction written in English.
Reviewed by Prof. Syed Manzoorul Islam, Department of English, University of Dhaka.
Published in February Book Fair, Dhaka (2012) by Pathak Shamabesh
Price: BDT 395.00