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Field Notes from a Waterborne Land

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In the late 2000s, when the three-decade-long Left Front rule in West Bengal was crumbling, Parim... Read More

Product Description

In the late 2000s, when the three-decade-long Left Front rule in West Bengal was crumbling, Parimal Bhattacharya began to travel outside the well-trodden urban centres to different parts of the region - from the Sundarbans to tribal Jangalmahal, from the outskirts of Kolkata to villages on the Bangladesh border, from the floodplains of the Hooghly to the forests of Simlipal in neighbouring Odisha.

There, he encountered: a woman who was branded a witch because she was listed in the census as literate; an island that vanished famously, only to resurface; a paralysed communist who dreams about the death of a river; a forest community who believe they are descendants of the Harappans; an old millworker and his wife who fight the ghosts of a dead industrial town with laughter; a fisherman uprooted by a river eleven times in twenty years; and many more. This book documents the missing narratives of these 'other' Bengalis, the largely invisible majority beyond the bhadralok that the rest of India knows.

Moving between the personal and the political, and between travelogue, journal and memoir, Field Notes from a Waterborne Land takes the reader on a journey across a fascinating land peopled with unforgettable characters.

'Parimal Bhattacharya's Field Notes from a Waterborne Land brings us a Bengal the rest of India does not see or even know of - a natural world of gorgeous yet threatened riverine, deltaic and forest landscapes, a social world of peasant and tribal communities struggling heroically for survival. These diverse landscapes and the people who inhabit them are sketched with tenderness and empathy. This is a richly readable as well as deeply moving book.' - Ramachandra Guha

'In this moving and insightful travelogue, Parimal Bhattacharya takes leave of the sheltered lives of the bhadralok to discover the other side of Bengal and its own struggles to live, love and learn.' - Jean Dr̬ze

'This is truly an unusual travelogue and "field journal" that weaves together history, sociology, politics, anthropology, culture and ecology. Written delightfully, it is a work of deep scholarship as well as a poignant commentary on the lives of communities missing from the usual narratives of West Bengal's diverse society. I found myself captivated reading it and finished the book at one go.' - Jairam Ramesh

'Parimal Bhattacharya's book mixes history, anecdotes, memories, social insights and political observations in prose that has a touch of magic and is evocative, moving, wistful, and sensitive without being sentimental. A work of non-fiction that, like his earlier books, transcends narrow boundaries to follow the trails of the extraordinary stories of seemingly ordinary people that unfold along the dusty roads of Bengal. Bhattacharya records these with a detached intensity and empathy that leave a lasting impression.' - Maitreesh Ghatak

Product Details

Title: Field Notes from a Waterborne Land
Author: Parimal Bhattacharya
SKU: BK0442770
EAN: 9789354894374
Language: English
Binding: Paperback

About Author

PARIMAL BHATTACHARYA, a bilingual writer and translator, is an associate professor of English in the West Bengal Education Service. He is the author of No Path in Darjeeling Is StraightBells of Shangri-La and Field Notes from a Waterborne Land. Nahumer Gram O Onyanyo Museum, published in 2021, is his most recent work in Bangla.

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