Author: Sunil Gangopadhyay
Publisher: Ananda Publishers
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170661234 & 1838
This novel is set against the backdrop of the biggest exodus in human history - the 1947 partition of India. That a newly born country could exist as two geographically separated units was also an unheard of event. But the inevitable had to happen. Culturally and linguistically dissimilar, East and West Pakistan had to forge their different destinies.
This novel is a record of those tumultuous times in East Pakistan as well as Indian Bengal. But their problems were vastly different. The story, revolving around two college friends, both Bengali though one Hindu and the other Muslim soon takes into its expanding orbit other characters, families, issues. The two friends drift apart, separated by the political division, and then each is caught up in his own problem. There is no sentimental reunion, in fact the novel precariously poised, steers clear of sentimentality.
There is the unspoken and inescapable bitter conclusion - perhaps the twain can never meet. Under the deceptively simple surface are hidden deeper and more complex human issues. East and west where initially a demarcation on the map but soon west recedes further as younger people from the east migrate to the US and the UK leaving the aging parents at home. Sunrise and sunset are two other symbols spun into the fabric of the novel, pointing to the evolution of human life, the movement from birth to death.
Thus from a partition novel set at a particular place and time, it rises to the level of the universal, encompassing the entire gamut of human emotions and cultural encounters.
This novel has been translated into English under the title East West, and is available as 2 separate volumes with India Club.
ENAKSHI CHATTERJEE writes both in English and Bengali and is a bilingual translator as well. She has translated in English a wide range of Bengali fiction and poetry including works of Tarashankar and Premendra Mitra. She has rendered into Bengali plays of Asif Currimbhoy and Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy.