Book Title: Dear Reader – A Writer’s Memoir
Translated by: Arunava Sinha
Published by: HarperCollins India
Dear Reader – A Writer’s Memoir by Sankar is an autobiographical description of his life as a writer. It chronicles his fortuitous rise from clerk to the last British lawyer of the Calcutta High Court, Noel Barwell, to becoming one of India’s best-selling Bengali authors. The biography also pays gratitude to those who inspired and impacted his literary career, including his mother and grandmother, instructors, and headmasters. Throughout the book, Sankar reflects on his own life, including one episode in which a weak older man goes to great lengths to find Sankar’s house and asks to meet Sankar’s mother.
Arunava Sinha translated the novel into English after it was first published in Bengali as Eka Eka Ekashi. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Ashoka University and a translator from India. He has translated 72 books from Bengali to English and is co-director of Ashoka University’s Centre of Translation, encouraging women to become translators. He has authored several books, including Harbart, The Merry Adventures of Harshabardhan, and Gobardhan.
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In this book, Sankar criticizes individuals who rejected him as a one-book author and blamed him for five years of anguish between his first and second novels. He asks his mother, “Who is greater, the writer or the reader?” She responds that it is the reader who becomes a writer.
Sankar’s writing style is distinguished by vivid descriptions and an emphasis on ordinary people’s daily lives. He frequently draws on his own life experiences to tell stories that are both personal and accessible. His novels have received accolades for their realism, wit, and understanding of Bengali society.
This book has some amazing lines that will surprise the reader. To realize that it is a work of translation is unbelievable. Here, translator Arunav’s prowess strikes. Toward the end of the book, there is a chapter named ‘Dear Reader ‘. While I recommend this book to every literature lover, I urge every reader to read this chapter without fail for the wonderful things discussed.