Jan 4, 2012

Book Review: Harbart

Harbart is a novel written by Nabarun Bhattacharya (in Bengali - Herbert) and translated in English by Arunava Sinha. This is the story of Harbart, a dimwit, good for nothing fellow who suddenly rises to fame with this extra ordinary skills of interacting with dead. Does he actually talk to the dead as he claims? Or is it his own delusions speaking ?
The author summarises his book  as :
"Harbart Sarkar, sole proprietor of a business that brings messages from the dead to their near and dear ones left behind on earth, is found dead in his room after a night of drinking with local young men. He has killed himself. Why? Was it a threat to his business which brought him money, respect, a standing in the family, more clients and fame? Or was it a different ghost from his shadow life, where he was constantly haunted by his own unfulfilled dreams and delusions?"

The plot begins with the death of Harbart. Was it a suicide or natural death?  Harbart’s life revolves around four of his friends and alcohol; alcohol being the most prominent part of his life. Harbart is described as a good for nothing fellow always looked down upon his close and near ones. His relatives have never accepted him and they have been so indifferent to his presence in the house .They hardly bothered about his life,the way he lived. His existence in itself had no meaning for his close ones. He rose to fame as the spirit talker.People from far and near came to him to get the messages of their close dead ones interpreted. Was it for real? Could harbart actually interpret what the dead ones wanted to convey? This is for you to read and know.

I haven’t read the original Bengali book so I can’t comment upon how much justice is done to the translation. Translating a book by keeping the underlying emotions intact is a herculean task in itself. Kudos to Arunava Sinha for keeping the Bengali Literature alive  through this translation. The book is difficult to understand .The poems have no rhyme no meaning to it. The writer should have explained the context and the meaning of the poems. Another phrase a novice reader wouldn’t understand is the “piu  kahan”.There are certain sections where i just flipped through without reading.So overall this book is worth a buy for all those who have read the original Herbart and want to see the translated piece in English. For others its worth a borrow.

Rating : 2.5/5
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