Homen Borgohain, illustrious Assamese novelist, writer, poet, critic, journalist, columnist and editor, is an important name in Assamese literature. At 85, he is a living legend, with a solid and important body of work. His novel Pita Putra received the Sahitya Akademi Award. His writings have had an indelible impact on the literature and journalism of Assam.
Like all timeless masterpieces, The Collected Works of Homen Borgohain highlights at once the uniqueness and universality of human life. Carefully and sensitively translated by Homen’s son, Pradipta Borgohain, the works included in this collection are gems from Homen’s repertoire of fine writing.
Whether it be the very famous novella Matsyagandha (The Fisherman’s Daughter, now made into a film) or short stories such as The Curtain and the Storm, these stories show Homen’s keen understanding of the human psyche, relationships and society in general.
Writer Mitra Phukan currently reading the book says, “The stories of rural life are evocative and the characters are realistic. There are beautiful detailed descriptions of nature, storms, forests and rivers.”
“The way of life of the people, the poverty and struggles for existence are described very movingly. I had read many of Homen’s works in the original Assamese, and this led me to buy the book,” the author says when asked what made her pick up the translated version and adds, “The translation is well done as it is faithful to the original. It has fidelity,” Phukan adds.
With The Homecoming, Homen gives us a very realistic glimpse into the mind of a married man and his stifling existence and how he slowly learns to cherish what he had always had, giving readers an insightful look into sustaining relationships.
In A Servant of the People, Ratna Goswami, an aspiring politician, in his attempts to cheat people is forced to have a taste of his own medicine. ‘Despair’ is a heart-wrenching account of the lonely existence of an old woman and her attempts to keep going and find some meaning in the life through trivial pursuits.
Rooted in realism, steeped in irony and underlined with humour and pathos, these stories leave an unforgettable imprint on the mind.
The book is poetry in prose — beautiful, lyrical and moving.
The stories are perfect slices of life, with not a single one standing out like sore thumb. They all are well woven, characters etched nicely with tales that are plausible. The translator Pradipta did ample justice to author Homen’s writing by bringing it alive in English with similar depth.
The original flavours of the society have been retained in the translation as authentically as possible.
“The book is a fascinating read as I am learning more about people and rural life. I would like to recommend it to everyone,” adds Phukan.