Library of Bangladesh Presents
Beloved Rongomala, a Novel
Translated By Shabnam Nadiya
Edited By Arunava Sinha
Publishing Year 2018
Published by ULAB Press.
ULAB Press, formerly known as Bengal Lights Books (BLB), is the publishing imprint of ULAB.
Based on an eighteenth-century legend from Bangladesh’s Noakhali region, Beloved Rongomala follows the fortunes of Rongomala, the charismatic low-caste mistress of zamindar Raj Chandra Chowdhury. Chowdhury’s philandering allows his uncle to rob the kingdom of Babupur blind; between his obliviousness and his uncle’s avarice, Babupur becomes enmeshed in inevitable war.
Beloved Rongomala introduces readers to enduring characters: the autocratic queen-mother Sumitra; the young queen Phuleshwari with her bird menagerie; Heera, the queen’s chief maid and surrogate mother; feckless zamindar Raj Chandra; and Rongomala, whose rise and fall from grace forms the central arc of the story. Traveling from the feuding kingdoms of southern Bengal, to holy sites in the east, to the flamboyant matriarchal society of Burma, Beloved Rongomala is a story of identity and connection.
Shaheen Akhtar is the author of five novels and four short story collections. In 2004, her novel Talaash won the Book of the Year award from Prothom Alo, Bangladesh’s most widely read newspaper. The English translation of Talaash (The Search) was published by Zubaan in New Delhi in 2011. Akhtar was presented with the Sera Bangali 2014 award in the field of literature by India’s leading Bengali news channel, ABP Ananda. She received the Akhteruzzaman Elias Kotha Shahitya Puroshkar 2015 and the IFIC Bank Puroshkar for her novel Moyur Shinghashon. She was awarded the Bangla Academy Shahitya Puroshkar for fiction in 2016. Her works have been translated into English, German, and Korean. Akhtar currently works for the Bangladeshi human rights and legal aid organization Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).