A day after the organisers of the 36 Kolkata International Book Fair refused to release the seventh volume of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's autobiographical series Nirbasan (Exile), the book was launched at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair in Dhaka without a hitch.
“It is very good news that my book was released at the fair in Dhaka without any controversy. But it is strange too, given that I had been forced to leave Bangladesh for my writings 18 years ago and have not been able to return there since,” Ms. Nasreen told The Hindu over telephone from New Delhi.
The Amar Ekushey Book Fair, organised by the Bangla Academy — an organisation of the Bangladesh government — is one the biggest book fairs in that country, said an official of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata.
“What Kolkata could not, Dhaka [did], even though I think that West Bengal is more progressive than Bangladesh in most respects”, Ms. Nasreen said.
“Neither the Bangladesh government nor the fundamentalists in that country who have been after me because of my secular beliefs and my struggle for people's liberties could stop the release of the book. This is indeed very encouraging”, she observed.
For Ms. Nasreen “the irony is that in India, with its secular and democratic government, my book could not be released at the scheduled venue, in a city which is considered progressive, while its launch was smooth in a country I have not been able to return to for 18 years”.
“The sad thought is that the launch of my book at arguably the biggest book fair organised in Bangladesh does not mean that the country's doors have been opened to me, however.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Nasreen has received no word for the past three months from the directors who had earlier signed contracts to make three films — one of these, a comedy around the fate of her cat after Ms. Nasreen was bundled out of Kolkata in 2007, and the other two based on two of her novels.
“What is strange that all the three directors have suddenly become silent regarding the projects even though they had signed contracts with me for the making of the films. Does one perceive a pattern somewhere: the controversy that had been raised over the release of my book at the Kolkata Book Fair and the silence on the part of these filmmakers?”