Review by Professor Ghanim Samarrai

Reading Dilruba Ara reminds me of three writers: Shahed Ali, John M. Synge, and James Joyce.

Shahed Ali, Ara’s father and one of Bangladesh’s eminent authors, writes in a highly literary style. I remember, especially, his short story, On the Wings of Eternity, in which his use of the language approaches poetry and keeps his readers enchanted. I remember also the Irish genius John M. Synge, who left Paris in 1899 – on advice from W. B. Yeats – to return to the Aran Islands and write about his own land. There, he found the necessary material and inspiration for his plays.

I may refer to another Irish genius, James Joyce, who though he wrote from afar (Trieste, Paris, and Zurich), his writings mostly focused on his hometown, Dublin. His ground-breaking portrayals of his city, his extraordinarily rich description of people and events resulted in masterpieces of English literature.

Ara’s novel, A List of Offences, captivates me with its brilliant depiction of the ordinary women of her native country, although from afar. With their unique Bangladeshi identity, the characters are very ordinary, down-to-earth individuals, with life-styles rooted in everyday traditions. They help us see and live the essence of a simple, tranquil life that reflects the author’s deep love for her country.

In Daria, however, Ara expresses the unvoiced thoughts of a young woman who bravely faces the cruelty of man and tries to breathe life into the seemingly dead expectations of generations to come.

The expressive imagery, the graceful and elegant prose, and the richness and intensity of her style make reading A List of Offences a highly rewarding experience.

Ghanim Samarrai

(Author and Professor of English Literature, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

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