New Delhi, May 1, 2019:
The explosive sequel to the bestselling Lajja (Shame)
Translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha
Harper Perennial, to be published in January 2020
Originally written over a decade ago, Shameless, the sequel to Lajja, has never been published in Bengali, or any other language, until very recently, when a Hindi translation was published.
HarperCollins’s publication of Shameless, translated by renowned translator Arunava Sinha, will make this remarkably timely, topical and outspoken novel about communal tensions in India and the deep scars they leave on individual lives, available to a wide readership both in India and abroad.
‘Lajja (Shame) was the story of the injustices a Hindu family faced in Bangladesh after the Babri Masjid demolition. Suranjan and his family have now relocated to Kolkata, and Shameless, the sequel to Lajja, takes their story forward. Have their troubles ended with a change of location? Not at all: for the patriarchy, misogyny, communal disharmony and religious intolerance that hinder humanity are just as prevalent in India as they were in Bangladesh. We cannot escape these traps we set for ourselves by fleeing from one country to another; we need real solutions to these real problems. Readers of Lajja might have felt that the experience of religious persecution was something that happened only in Bangladesh; with Shameless you will have to confront the fact that the horrors of communal tension and violence are just as prevalent in India as they are elsewhere in the subcontinent.’ – Taslima Nasreen
Arunava Sinha, who is translating the Bengali novel into English for HarperCollins, said: ‘I’m particularly excited because this will be my first translation of a full-length work of Taslima Nasreen’s, and also because this is a somewhat unusual situation where the novel has never been published in Bengali, the language in which it was written. I remember vividly the impact that Lajja (Shame) had, and I know that its hitherto unread sequel is something readers will be awaiting with great anticipation.’
‘Taslima says that Shameless, unlike Lajja, is not a political novel. I would say that it is instead a novel about what the politics of religion does to human beings and their relationships. It is a ruthless, uncompromising, heartbreaking tale of ordinary people’s lives in our times. This is a Lajja set in Calcutta, in Bengal, in India – it is a book that holds up a mirror that we might be horrified to look into, especially since we know that what we will see in the mirror is the truth. It is an absolute thrill for us at HarperCollins to be able to bring this extraordinary novel to readers in India as well as abroad.’ – Udayan Mitra, Publisher – Literary at HarperCollins
About the book
The bell rang at my Rowdon Street flat in Calcutta. I opened the door to find a young man standing there. I had no idea who he was.
–Yes, what do you want?
–I want you.
–That’s not good enough. You need to tell me who you are, where you’ve come from, and why. You should really make an appointment if you want to see me…|
The two security guards were sitting there as usual watching the fun. The young man hesitated. He scratched the mole on his cheek.
I shut the door on his face. From the other side of the door came his hesitant voice.
–My name is Suranjan. Suranjan Datta. Please open the door, I need to talk to you.
The name sounded familiar. I opened the door a crack. No, I didn’t know this person at all. Had never seen him before.
With acute embarrassment, the young man spoke again.
–My name is Suranjan. You don’t recognize me? You wrote a novel about me. It was called Lajja.
So begins Shameless, the stunning sequel to Taslima Nasreen’s controversial and bestselling novel Lajja (Shame). Written a decade ago, during the time Taslima lived in Kolkata before she had to leave the city forever, this extraordinary novel has never been published in Bengali.
Lajja dealt with the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. At the end of the novel, Suranjan Datta and his family relocated to Calcutta, hoping to find a safe haven.
Shameless takes forward the story of Suranjan and his family – his mother Kiranmoyee and his sister Maya – as they struggle to eke out a living in Calcutta, poor, rootless, and the victims of a violence so brutal that it has scarred them forever. Their inner turmoil is reflected in their relationships. Kiranmoyee has lost her husband Sudhamoy, who committed suicide after they moved to Calcutta and were swindled out of all their money. Suranjan and Maya have both broken off their marriages (to
Hindu Bengalis)— Suranjan then starts seeing Zulekha, the survivor of a gang rape by Hindus, while Maya is dating the upwardly mobile Sibohan (whose name she first thought was the Hindu Shovan).
Into their lives comes the real-life Taslima, living in exile in Calcutta under police protection herself. She tries to understand these people as they try to adapt to their new world, and as she tries to adapt to hers. And life keeps taking unexpected turns…
About Taslima Nasreen
Taslima Nasreen is a secular humanist, a human rights activist, and a prolific and bestselling author, who has faced forced exile and multiple fatwas calling for her death. She had to leave Bangladesh after the publication of Lajja in the 1990s, and has never been able to return. Subsequently she has lived in Europe, and in Calcutta. She now lives in New Delhi.
Taslima is the author of over forty works of fiction and non-fiction in Bengali, which have been published in over thirty languages worldwide. Many of her books are banned both in Bangladesh and in West Bengal.
About HarperCollins India
HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2000 titles across 10 imprints. HarperCollins India authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, the DSC Prize, the New India Foundation Award, the Atta Galatta Prize, the Shakti Bhatt Prize, the Publishing Next Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Oneworld, Bonnie Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India is also the only publisher to have been awarded the Publisher of the Year Award three times: at Publishing Next in 2015, and at Tata Literature Live! in 2016 and 2018.
Please send any enquires to Akriti Tyagi, HarperCollins India: Akriti.Tyagi@harpercollins.co.in