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দোজখনামা Who tells the greatest story — God or Manto Dozakhnama Conversations in Hell is an extraordinary novel a biography of Manto and Ghalib and a history of Indian culture rolled into one Exhumed from dust Manto’s unpublished novel surfaces in Lucknow Is it real or is it a fake In this dastan Manto and Ghalib converse entwining their lives in shared dreams The result is an intellectual journey that takes us into the people and events that shape us as a culture As one writer describes it ‘I discovered Rabisankar Bal like a torch in the darkness of the history of this subcontinent This is the real story of two centuries of our own country’ Rabisankar Bal’s audacious novel told by reflections in a mirror and forged in the fires of hell is both an oral tale and a shield against oblivion An echo of distant screams Inscribed by the devil’s uill Dozakhnama is an outstanding performance of subterranean memory

  • Paperback
  • 544 pages
  • দোজখনামা
  • Rabisankar Bal
  • English
  • 13 November 2016

About the Author: Rabisankar Bal

রবিশংকর বল পশ্চিমবঙ্গের খ্যাতনামা কথাসাহিত্যিক। জন্ম ১৯৬২ সালে। বিজ্ঞানে স্নাতক। ২০১১ সালে দোজখনামা উপন্যাসের জন্য বঙ্কিম স্মৃতি পুরস্কার পেয়েছেন।গল্পগ্রন্থ দারুনিরঞ্জন রবিশঙ্কর বল এর গল্প আর্তোর শেষ অভিনয় জীবন অন্যত্র ওই মণিময় তার কাহিনী সেরা ৫০ টি গল্প উপন্যাস নীল দরজা লাল ঘর পোখরান ৯৮স্মৃতি ও স্বপ্নের বন্দরপাণ্ডুলিপি করে আয়োজনমিস্টার ফ্যান্টম বাসস্টপে একদিন মিলনের শ্বাসরোধী কথা নষ্টভ্রষ্ট এখানে

10 thoughts on “দোজখনামা

  1. Arcopol Chaudhuri Arcopol Chaudhuri says:

    Given that it’s a time when there are and books that ualify as ‘uick weekend reads’ ‘breezy one time reads’ it is an indescribable feeling when one comes across a book like Dozakhnama Conversations in Hell Words cannot express the comfort this book provides I wished that the book would never end Meant for posterity this is a book best consumed like a box of sweets you can nibble at everyday and take joy from the fact that there’s still so much left to devour The bonus You’d want to take the journey all over again just to experience those literary orgasms that came in paragraphs of sheer brillianceA translation of a Bengali novel by Rabisankar Bal Dozakhnama is a story of the conversations a young writer unearths as he sets out to translate Sadat Hasan Manto’s unpublished novel that one day suddenly surfaces in Lucknow But these are not ordinary conversations They’re between wait for it Manto and Mirza Ghalib two of the most enigmatic figures in literature both of whom found fame posthumously and who continue to live on in public memory thanks to the power of their wordsEach chapter is like a monologue and all put together the book is a conversation happening between their graves through shared dreams Pal translated here flawlessly by the very talented Arunava Sinha makes an ambitious attempt to pen the most imaginatively written biography of Manto and Ghalib and lets it simmer in the frothy history of Indian culture Does he succeed? Hell yeah no pun intendedWhile Ghalib’s story captures a ancient period in Indian history Manto goes about sharing his life’s journey in a modern era The former’s frustrations and agony compound and give shape to his terrific ability for verse while the latter’s account is those of his adventures as a struggler in the early days of India’s film industry socializing with commercial sex workers in Bombay’s red light district While neither of them try to outdo the other in the ‘my story is sadder than yours’ routine they incidentally show a shared passion for consuming liuor gambling and women There also appears to be a shared worldview about marriage being a tumultuous bed to sleep on whereas the brothels provide opportunities aplenty for experiencing love and heart break I personally had sympathies with Ghalib’s condition than Manto’sWhat also becomes clear upon reading of this book is a similar trajectory of their experience facing rejection constantly during their lifetime and sweet redemption years after their death Those who’ve read Manto and Ghalib’s works in depth may find the conversations in Dozakhnama a bit of a repetition of stories they already know but for the others this book is an incredibly kind and sorrowful jugalbandi of sorts that catches two icons in a memorable conversation you’d like to listen to again and again Buy the book and don’t lend it to anybody

  2. Ammara Abid Ammara Abid says:

    ”A story is nothing but a story it lives alone it dies alone” ہوئی مدت کہ غالبؔ مرگیا، پر یاد آتا ہے وہ ہر اک بات پر کہنا کہ، یوں ہوتا تو کیا ہوتا Ghalib has long been dead but we remember himWondering what if this had happened or that?

  3. Gorab Jain Gorab Jain says:

    5I hate it when you find some fallacies in a book you liked while reviewing itAnd I hate it to the extent of loving it P when the book turns out to be so impeccable devoiding you of that chanceDozakhnama is that beautyRead it for around 3 months took a lot of effort and I am sad now that it is overWhat I loved 1 Uniue style of combining two biographies In the form of conversations between Mirza Ghalib and Saadat Hasan Manto from their graves2 Sooooooper language Its very beautifully crafted Marvellous editing3 Kisse Kisse and many Kisse The deviations are such that the main plot itself looks like a deviationWhat I hated1 Lots of homework 2 While the ghazals did sound melodious and beautiful couldn't make much sense out of them without referring the English translations3 Had to scribble at every couple of pages in the paperback and that ruined it blame it on my handwriting4 There were many external references Manto stories Ghalib ghazals some works of Ismat Chughtai While catching up on the references in between did break the momentum many a times but it immensely enriched the reading experienceIn retrospect whatever I hated is what makes this so much special and a 5 star readHighly highly recommended for Hindi book loversPS Many thanks to Arvind for recommending this book Your suggestion to read this in Hindi worked wonders

  4. Omama. Omama. says:

    I finally managed to complete this book after being in a whirlwind for about a year Not because I was too lazy to finish but because it’s so overwhelming Basically it’s about conversations in hell between Mirza Ghalib a connoisseur of poetry; and Sadaat Hasan Manto the master of words Both of which I have been adoring since my childhood Dozakhnama takes you on a sweet agonist ride where you can’t help but feel all the emotions pain recklessness and truth behind each and every word The haphazard lives and vagabond existences of Ghalib and Manto The tone of the book is so sensible gripping and enthralling The mighty Mughal Era the scenario of a subcontinent and the aftermath of 1858’s traumatic events in words of Ghalib and the tales of partition through the eyes of Manto portraits a whole universe in a grain The tales and anecdotes of Dervish Fakirs and Sufis throughout the whole book is what keeps it utterly contemplatively and profoundly interesting One thing which I adored the most is Shers and Verses by all the famous Urdu and Farsi poets in the book Brings back a sense of attachment and belonging to one’s own long lost but mostly adored culture This book was a big EUPHORIA for me And I’m just sitting here after finishing the book and don’t know what to do with my life any so here’s translated version of some of the verses from the book which have been stuck in my mind and painted on my heart I shall not give up on my desire if it remains unfulfilledMy heart will either reach my lover or leave my bodyWhen I’m dead dig up my grave you’ll find my shroudCovered in smoke for the fire is still burning inside❤️Dozakhnama is a read that I will not forget for a very long time to come

  5. Samir Samir says:

    Death can be endured but memory cannotAs the author prepares the paranormal backdrop for his narrative to spring out of graves at the very start of the book you get biographies woven together into a single fabric that is free from all hindrances of normalcy The nomadic narration is the soul of Dozakhnama Stories start at one point and sprout in various stories History and Fantasy mingle to create an uniue blend of language But then undoubtedly that's the language the two legendary literary figures Mirza Ghalib and Manto would have loved to talk to each other inWhen Mirza Ghalib and Manto who are uite apart from each other in life and death by time and distance meet on the common ground of literature to share their experiences the ground realities of Indian history chapters like Mughal rule British invasion Sepoy mutiny Partition take shape from the point of view of a poet and a story writer who lived through those times and weren't much appreciated while they were still livingDozakhnama gives us tales of tortured souls told in an innovative way Though originally written in Bengali by Rabisankar Bal and translated in English by Arunava Sinha the effect of the original seems to have come through I cannot know how effective the original must have been due to my language barrier but the English translation doesn't seem lost in what it wants to convey Garnished with witty lines and Ghalib's poetry Dozakhnama is a one of those books that you come across only once in a while Personally I think Indian and Pakistani readers will be able to relate to Dozakhnama in a better way than readers from other countries because of the shared culture and history Having said that Dozakhnama is still a journey worth takingHe who cannot leave his home and go out on the road will never find happiness

  6. Rural Soul Rural Soul says:

    It certainly had errors in Urdu text I wonder that being a writer of a rather regional language like Bengali in India Bal had excellent imagination to bring an uniue piece of  literature which was worth translating in other languages As I hear that after English it already has been translated in Urdu language with again a lot of errors tooIt seemed result of vast and long research about both literary figures Sometimes events associated with both persons seem fictional However it makes us to believe it anywayI didn't have read Ghalib and Manto thoroughly That's why I didn't have much praise for later This book introduced a whole different Manto I could see that Manto was than a writer of obscene and lustful stories

  7. Sambit Sambit says:

    Ghalib Manto meet in hellDozakh and discuss about the worldly matters of their era Womenwineish dastans Sufism Indian history people culture with each one judging the other and sharing the lessons learnt in their respective lives And from these discussions the plot of the book is borne bearing the two centuries of history of our country DozakhnamaConversations in hell with its ghazals poetry and plot leaves us completely spellbound Manto's narration is top notch and at times it renders Ghalib's narration ordinaryAfter reading the bookall I wished that the book must go on and on But alas all good things come to an end and so has this book A must read for everyone

  8. Fizah(Books tales by me) Fizah(Books tales by me) says:

    Actual Rating 45“Anyone can write history All it needs is memory But to write a story you must have the power to dream” This book is so famous in my country like I was seeing it on every bookshop which made me not to read it Last year I saw it with one relative and opened it and after a few glances I knew I have to read it So finally I did It took me solid 5 days to finish it but it was worth itIt is a story about a writer who found an old manuscript of Saadat Hussain Manto’s unpublished novel which is in Urdu so he decided to learn the Urdu language The novel of Manto’s novel is the communication between Saadat Hussain Manto and Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan aka Mirza Ghalib in the graveMirza Ghalib is considered as the last great poet of Mughal Era his ghazals are still reading and singing by people in Indo PakSaadat Hussain Manto was an Indian Pakistan writer Manto was known to write about the hard truths of the society that no one dared to talk about in other words his stories were highly controversial and considered boldIt is the first time I read a book which has the same style as in Urdu or because it is about people I’ve been known for all of my life the poetry we use in our daily conversation and studies in schoolcollege“Their lives are like measuring tapes and they want to trim the lives of other people to same measurements” I loved the writing and the way both communicate with each other their style use of all those local tellings afsansa poetries and history Ghalib was from Era of Mughals he watched the journey greatness of Culture to Sepoy of Mutiny when the Mughal Era was taking its last breath to the dark time where all that culture was on the edge of being banished from the world How it affects the people what were the actions and emotions of people How it changed Ghalib’s life from a Turkish descendent proud aristocrat to a poet who was just trying to save his and his family’s skin by selling his pen It was really heartbreaking“I’m not the flowering of a song nor the flow of melodyI am the echo of the shattering sound of my defeat” Manto a uniue and alcohol addicted struggling writer who falls in love with Bombay watched partition and all the horrors wrote controversial and bold stories which lead him to courts How his family suffered because of him or how he suffered because of him“And by then I had understood that any ghazal that could not pierce your heart completely and instantly like an arrow had no value as a work of art” It is so hard to decide either Ghalib was stubborn or Manto but one thing is crystal clear both of these characters are too uniue to find others like themI really loved this book

  9. Naveed Masih Naveed Masih says:

    Clear plot comprehensible translation Dozkhnama is an amalgam of Ghalib and Manto’s writings Selective couplets and stories are blend together in a decent way The hierarchy of events makes this novel appealingThis delightful read will take you to the eras of these two towering literary figures and you’ll enjoy their conversation in their graves The similarities between their lives the tragic accounts of partition and 1857 their Witty statements and mocking commentaries on different events are worth reading

  10. A Man Called Ove A Man Called Ove says:

    Aisa aasaa nahi lahoo ronaDil me taakat jigar me haal kaha ?A book about the life of Ghalib Manto their innermost desires their thoughts Beautifully interwoven with a lot of 'shers' and small 'dastans' Why not then 45 atleast ?I cursed the author and the publisher again and again for not providing a Hindustani translation Also the Urdu shers have not been provided in either of Devnagari or Roman script leaving u with a half satisfied and half yearning feeling of reading the English translation

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