Book Title: Didi: Nirupama Devi
Author: Nirupama Devi
Translated By: Alo Shome
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Number of Pages: 248
Date Published: Aug. 05, 2023
Price: INR 289
Writing social fiction in Bengali Hindu colonial context was complex, balancing conformity and dissent. Women novelists like Nirupama Devi were often criticized for portraying deviant relationships and emotions that did not conform to the prescribed code of gender relations. Despite criticisms, women novelists were often appreciated for celebrating the virtues of womanhood despite their challenges. Both male and female authors contributed to Bengali society’s complexity and ambivalence.
Nirupama Devi, born in Berhampore in 1883, was a fiction writer inspired by her elder brother Bibhuti Bhusan and sharat chandra chattopadhyay. Her works, including “Didi”, Annap’u’r’na’r Mandir, and Bandhu, were published in hand-written magazines. Devi’s literary pseudonym was ‘Srimati Devi’.
“Didi,” written by Niripama Devi and translated into English by Alo Shome, follows Surama, a married woman, as she navigates her inner turmoil and dilemmas in a patriarchal society. Surama’s husband, Amarnath, marries Charu, a widow, and faces the challenges of subjugating herself to care for her husband and family. The novel also touches on the widows’ harsh realities in a society that values them.
The characters are well-developed and believable. Surama is a sympathetic and relatable character, and I rooted for her throughout the novel. The novel explores complex and important themes, such as the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal society, the issue of widowhood, and the importance of friendship. The writing is beautiful and evocative. Nirupama Devi’s prose is lyrical and poetic, and she brings the novel’s world to life.
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“Didi,” set in the early 20th century, explores the challenges faced by women in patriarchal societies. The novel highlights the importance of female friendship, as Surama and Charu’s friendship provides strength and support. This powerful and moving novel highlights women’s ongoing struggles in their fight for equality. “Didi” surpasses previous Bengali literature by addressing the deeply traditional theme of love, highlighting women’s continued efforts in their fight for equality.
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