Turkish embassy hosts writers of ‘Golden: Bangladesh at 50’

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The writers tell their tales in the event at the embassy premises in Dhaka

Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan on Thursday hosted a cultural evening marking the launch of an anthology of contemporary short stories and poems titled ‘Golden: Bangladesh at 50’.

Dhaka’s top literati and diplomatic community gathered for the lively discussion on art, storytelling and plural identities followed by short readings by the authors at the embassy premises.

The event was organised to mark the launch of ‘Golden: Bangladesh at 50’, an anthology of contemporary short stories and poems, according to a press release issued by the embassy.
The anthology has been curated by author Shazia Omar and published by University Press Limited (UPL).

The collection includes pieces by both published and unpublished writers, some living in Bangladesh, others from the diasporas of New York, Chicago, London, Rome, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Toronto.

In his speech, Mustafa Osman Turan said: “In many ways Turkey and Bangladesh are similar. Our people love music, stories and poetry. We need to explore ways to encourage and support creativity and expression in a big way because this is how new ideas are born. We look forward to further cultural exchange with Bangladesh.”

Mahrukh Moinuddin, Managing Director of University Press Limited, publisher of the book, said: “I loved the collection and was happy to publish it as a gift to readers.”
Sabrina Fatma Ahmad, founder of Sehri Tales (you can read or participate in this movement under #sehritales), wrote Fultokka, a story about childhood, bullies, and lessons of empathy. Farah Ghuznavi, editor of Lifelines anthology (Zubaan Books, 2012), and a short story collection, Fragments of Riversong (Daily Star Books, 2013), and Nadia Kabir Barb, author of Truth or Dare (Bengal Lights 2017), both also offer stories of childhood and school days, each with different lessons.

Shazia Omar’s own story in the collection is about an arrogant girl who becomes disillusioned with the mechanics of society as she comes to face extreme isolation when the pandemic strikes. Forced to make a choice, she chooses a return to nature, where she finds peace by connecting to universal love.
Shazia has written two novels, Dark Diamond (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Like a Diamond in the Sky (Penguin – Zubaan, 2009). She is currently working on two children’s stories slated to be published by Guba Books next year.

One of the poems in the collection, I Don’t Deserve You, by Namira Hossain, depicts the power struggles of a relationship. Namira is an intuitive therapist and professional tarot card reader.

Namira said: “When Shazia asked me to contribute a poem, I told her I didn’t have any stories about the war of independence. She then told me she wants stories about what is to be Bangladeshi. This poem reflects the fear many of us hold of abandonment and unworthiness. Only through realizing the power of self-love can we overcome those fears.”

Nahyan Ameen has given a story that explores the dynamics of life in Dhaka, where class and status play a role in people’s fate and identity.
Nahyan said: “This is the first time my writing has been published. It has encouraged me to keep writing.”

The authors have collectively portrayed the problems and realities of Bangladesh as well as its beauty and power. As Shazia says: “The collection of stories and poems is a way of honoring all that we have learned, yearned for, found and let go. The stories explore our love for and worries about this country.”

Other writers and poets featured in the anthology include Mahmud Rahman, Nadeem Zaman, Sabrina Ahmad, Srabonti Narmeen Ali, Kaiser Haq, Neeman Sobhan, Arif Anwar, Sabahat Jahan, Lubna Mariam, Zeeshan Khan, Nahyan Ameen, Nadia Kabir Barb, Abeer Y Hoque, Shabnam Nadiya, Maria Chaudhuri, MK Aaref, Salahdin Imam, Namira Hossain, Farah Ghuznavi, Munize Manzur and Iffat Nawaz.
Reviews of the book are available on Shazia’s website. The book can be ordered for delivery from University Press Limited or Bookworm

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