It's a wickedly funny feminist exploration
Bengali authors have given birth to a remarkable array of romantic novels that transcend time and cultural boundaries.
Renowned for their deep exploration of human relationships and societal dynamics, Bengali authors have crafted tales that resonate with readers globally.
In this exploration of the best romantic books by these novelists, we delve into narratives that capture the essence of love and offer profound insights into the complexities of human connection.
From the timeless tragedy of Devdas to the evocative tales of modern relationships, these novels invite readers to witness the unfolding of love against the backdrop of Bengali culture.
Choritrohin – Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Choritrohin is a 1917 novel by one of the most iconic Bengali authors, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
The book explores the lives of four distinctive women in early 1900s Bengali society.
The narrative unfolds the struggles of Savitri, a pure-hearted widow, Surbala, a pious woman, Sarojini, a forward-thinking but constrained individual, and Kiranmayi, a beauty stifled by societal constraints.
The men in their lives – Satish, Upendra, and Dibakar – play pivotal yet often detrimental roles, reflecting the orthodox mindset of the time.
The complex relationships weave through love, despair, and redemption, capturing the culture clash between society and Western influences in Kolkata.
In this profound tale, each character’s journey is marked by societal expectations, personal desires, and the evolving dynamics of love.
Devdas – Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Step into the timeless world of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s tragic masterpiece, Devdas.
Devdas and Paro, childhood sweethearts bound by love, find their destinies diverging when Devdas is sent away to Calcutta by his father, the local zamindar.
Returning as a striking young man at 19, Paro proposes marriage, but Devdas, succumbing to parental opposition, shatters her dreams by rejecting the proposal.
Stunned, Paro accepts an offer from an elderly widower.
Haunted by thoughts of Paro and the love left unexplored, Devdas drowns in despair.
Seeking resolution, he implores Paro to elope, but she, now married, refuses.
Heartbroken, Devdas turns to alcohol and the companionship of Chandramukhi, a courtesan who falls deeply in love with him.
Yet, even in her presence, his mind remains tethered to Paro. The path to self-destruction becomes Devdas’s destiny.
This new translation revitalises the classic tale of star-crossed lovers, ensuring its enduring magic resonates with a new generation of readers.
First Light – Sunil Gangopadhyay
First Light, the enchanting sequel to the acclaimed Those Days, is set against the vibrant backdrop of Bengal at the turn of the twentieth century.
In this dynamic period, where the clash between old and young India is palpable, the novel introduces a compelling cast of characters.
Among them is Rabindranath Tagore, a poet torn between artistic pursuits and his profound connection with the ethereal Kadambari Devi.
Additionally, we encounter Naren Datta, later renowned as Swami Vivekananda, a dynamic figure navigating a shift from Brahmo Samaj to complete surrender to his Guru, Sri Ramakrishna.
The storyline delves into the lives of individuals responding to the call of nationalism.
Gangopadhyay also intertwines the endeavours of doctors and scientists determined to liberate their land from the shackles of superstition and blind beliefs.
Brick Lane – Monica Ali
Embark on a riveting journey with Nazneen in Monica Ali’s extraordinary novel.
After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man two decades her senior, Nazneen leaves behind her Bangladeshi village, home, and heart, entering a new world in the heart of London.
London, with its mysteries and challenges, poses questions for Nazneen.
How does one navigate the streets without facing the wrath of oncoming cars, akin to dodging raindrops during the monsoon?
What secrets does her intimidating neighbour, Mrs Islam, harbour? And who or what is a Hell’s Angel?
Amidst these curiosities, Nazneen must also comfort the naive Chanu.
As a devout Muslim, Nazneen grapples with the expectation not to question the workings of Fate, dedicating herself to her husband and daughters.
However, her world takes an unexpected turn as she finds herself in an affair with a charismatic young radical, shattering the foundations of her old certainties.
Monica Ali’s splendid novel threads a tale of both external and internal journeys, where the marvellous and the terrifying intertwine.
The Bones of Grace – Tahmima Anam
Dive into the compelling narrative of The Bones of Grace, the third and final installment of Tahmima Anam’s captivating Bengal trilogy, succeeding A Golden Age and The Good Muslim.
Meet Zubaida Haque, the adopted daughter of a native Bengali family, navigating the intricacy of two worlds.
Caught in the crossroads, she grapples with choices that seem to pull her in opposite directions.
A unique sense of loyalty tugs at her, connecting her to her motherland, Bangladesh, and the United States, where she completed her studies.
Tahmima Anam skillfully weaves a story of identity, belonging, and the complexities of choice in this evocative tale.
Join Zubaida on her journey as she seeks to reconcile the divergent threads of her life, exploring the nuances of loyalty and the delicate balance between her roots and the paths she’s trodden.
The Startup Wife – Tahmima Anam
Asha Ray is a brilliant coder sporting a Pi tattoo and is on the brink of transforming artificial intelligence.
When she reconnects with her high school crush, Cyrus Jones, sparks fly, and inspiration strikes.
In a whirlwind, Asha abandons her PhD program, exchanges vows with Cyrus, and joins the innovative tech incubator, Utopia.
Their revolutionary algorithm takes the world by storm.
They attract millions seeking personalised rituals daily.
As fame engulfs them, the question looms: will Cyrus and Asha’s marriage endure the pressure, or will the man overshadow her hailed as the new messiah?
Tahmima Anam, an award-winning author, pens a blistering plot that explores faith and the future.
With a keen eye and a clever touch, she invites you into a world where technology grapples with the hurdles of love.
This novel isn’t just a radical vision of human connection; it’s a wickedly funny feminist exploration of startup culture and modern partnerships.
In the realm of romantic literature, Bengali authors have etched their names with stories that are both timeless and transcendent.
The novels discussed here exemplify the depth and diversity of storytelling within the Bengali literary tradition.
To explore the works of Bengali authors is to embark on a journey of emotional resonance and cultural exploration – a journey well worth taking for any avid reader.