LeftWord Books, New Delhi, 2021

Language: English

144 pages

5.5 x 8.5 inches

Price INR 250.00
Book Club Price INR 175.00
INR 250.00
In stock

Signs (Chinha), written in 1946, was Manik Bandyopadhyay’s fifteenth novel, and is something of a hidden gem of Bengali literature.

The novel is set in the mass uprisings that Calcutta witnessed in protest against the trial and sentencing of Captain Rashid Ali of the Indian National Army. These outbursts of popular anger were initiated by students, and involved large sections of the working people.

The author weaves together a number of episodes, meetings and partings happening simultaneously at different locations through a kind of narrative ‘montage’. The narration represents this revolutionary moment witnessed through the eyes of myriads of people who make it, whether by participating in it or by being caught up in it, by remaining on the margin or by trying to use it to their own purpose, or even by resisting it. It is a rare attempt to catch the internal dynamics of the action by focussing on the fast-changing relationships among its speaking, thinking, acting human agents, when the singular motive force of the objective situation is manifested in the multiplicity of responses.

Signs was such a departure from the writing of the time that the author noted, ‘It is written in a new technique. I do not know whether it should be called a novel.’ Manik Bandyopadhyay failed to interest his publisher into issuing a second print during his lifetime. It was published again after his death.

This is the first English translation of this modernist masterpiece, introduced and annotated by scholar and activist Malini Bhattacharya.

Manik Bandyopadhyay

Manik Bandyopadhyay (birth name Prabodh Kumar Bandyopadhyay, 19 May 1908–3 December 1956) is a major figure of twentieth-century Bengali literature. He authored 38 novels and 306 stories. His best-known works include Padma Nadir Majhi (The Boatman on the River Padma, 1936), Putul Nacher Itikatha (The Puppet’s Tale, 1936), Shahartali (Suburbia, 1941), Chatushkone (The Quadrilateral, 1948), Swadhinatar Swad (Taste of Freedom, 1951) and Halud Nadi Sabuj Ban (Yellow River Green Forest, 1956). He was born in Dumka, Santal Parganas. His father was a government official who was transferred all over Bengal, giving young Manik a wide exposure to diverse places, cultures, dialects, and people. He became a member of the Progressive Writers’ Association in the early 1940s, and joined the Communist Party of India in 1944. In ill health and plagued by financial problems, he died at the early age of 48. His unfailing commitment to his creative objective gave him an iconic status as an ‘engaged’ author, a ‘pen-wielding proletarian’, according to the author’s own description.

Malini Bhattacharya

Malini Bhattacharya (b. 1943) retired as Professor of English and Director, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She is a well-known activist in the women’s movement, and is President of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. She is a prolific author, translator, playwright, and poet. She was elected to the Lok Sabha as a Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate from the Jadavpur constituency in 1989, and re-elected in 1991.