08 March 2010

Bani Basu

Meenakshi Mukherjee writes about "Bani Basu's Novels":

"No two of Bani Basu's novels are alike, each one explores a different segment of experience where imagination is backed by research; she experiments with a variety of narrative modes, realism and irrealism sometimes co-exist in startling ways; she is capable of completely changing her language to suit the theme.

"As an example of the latter, one can take Moom (1998) which focuses on a Marwari family settled in Kolkata for generations. The language is Bangla laced with Hindi, the kind many Marwaris in Calcutta use. Such a hybrid language - if used at all in Bangla literature in the past - has only been done for comic effect, and always briefly. Bani Basu dares to write an entire novel in this mixed language quite seriously, without any trace of condescension or mockery."

More and more, critics are recognizing that texts using more than one language have grown way past the macaronic phase. The mixed language used in texts is not just a way of being authentic or mirroring how people speak in real life; it is also - as literary critics know - a way to break the barriers imposed by any one language. Necessarily, one language encompasses only one part of reality. To represent or constitute more of the real world, a writer more and more feels obliged to use more than one language in a single text.

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