Across Borders is Shuvashree Chowdhury’s debut novel. It is the story of Maya — a girl born in a small town in the north-east state of Assam in pre-Independence India — her trials and tribulations, starting with her father’s second marriage. It maps Maya’s angst at his desertion of her mother and two sisters, followed by her being brought up by an uncle — a renowned industrialist and philanthropist — in his boarding school near Dhaka.
The novel tracks Maya’s leaving Dhaka after the 1964 riots: With a vivid delineation of her being evacuated by army personnel from the college hostel, to seeking refuge in a Muslim home for three months, before returning to India in the hope of finding a life she can finally call her own — but does she?
In telling the story of a girl caught between a highly patriarchal society and political conflict, Across Borders offers a gripping depiction of circumstances surrounding the Bangladesh War of Liberation and a young girl’s memories of the trauma surrounding the communal riots leading up to it.
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‘A moving and evocative novel that vividly captures our past.’
— TIMERI N MURARI, novelist & playwright, recipient of the R K Narayan Award
‘An urgent tale told with utter vividness. An important addition to the literatures from India’s North-East and Bangladesh.’
— SUDEEP SEN, author of Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations: 1980-2015; The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry & EroText
‘The book is unputdownable. How many people can write as powerfully as Shuvashree Chowdhury?’
— PRANAY GUPTE, journalist & author
‘Across Borders holds you with its vivid descriptions and its delineation of characters. Moving across the important decades of our early independence, it tells stark and often poignant stories.’
— RUCHIR JOSHI, writer & columnist, The Telegraph (Kolkata)
‘An engrossing storyteller …. The delineation of characters is superb, so true and real that they come to life. I was able to identify myself with many situations. I finished reading the novel in two straight sittings.’
— P V KRISHNAMOORTHY, (first) Director General, Doordarshan
‘The author has surpassed herself in fleshing out the primary characters. But her strength lies in linguistic flair, especially in descriptive prose. There are myriad evocative turns of phrase throughout the novel, each a delicate brushstroke that adds luminosity to a master canvas. It is in these compelling details that Across Borders stands out as a commendable body of work, its vivid details evocatively blending history with fiction.’
— The Telegraph