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Review by Rosinka Chaudhari in the Times Literary Supplement for My Kind of Girl

From Bankim Chandra Chaterjee (1838-94) in the nineteenth century to Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay (1898-1971) and Buddhadeva Bose (1908-74) in the midtwentieth, the three books under review straddle the golden age of Bengali writing; from “one of the fathers of the Indian novel” to two modernists, contemporaries, whose writings exist in fascinating contradistinction to one another. Buddhadeva Bose gave voice to the twentieth-century urban Bengali sensibility in an oeuvre that ranges from poetry to short stories, novels, plays and insightful literary criticism; his translations of Baudelaire, Rilke and Hölderlin into Bengali were in keeping with his own obsession with the city and the individual subject in modernity. My Kind of Girl is a wonderfully fortuitous phrase for Moner Mato Meye, capturing the idiomatic resonance of colloquial usage as no other could have. Arunava Sinha and Radha Chakravarty are among the more proficient and prolific translators from the Bengali language today, and are to be commended for their engagement in large translation projects; that one should sometimes still miss the luminosity of the original words on the page is therefore strange. In Sinha’s English version of Moner Mato Meye, phrases such as “So long have I been there” to mean “I’ve been there for such a long time” are infelicitous, as is “Her voice struck the chords in Nabokumar’s heart” in The Forest Woman. That My Kind of Girl – a classic modernist tale of four passengers stranded in a railway-station waiting room at night, recounting stories of lost loves – is engrossing is thanks not only to Sinha’s abilities, but to the quality of Bose’s narrative, which, unlike his earlier, Calcutta-based masterpiece, Tithidore (1949), inhabits a lighter, more Maupassant-like manner instead.

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