Book Review - Exile by Taslima Nasrin

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Book Photography by Shruti Bhutani

Exile, by Taslima Nasrin

(Translated by Maharghya Chakraborty)

Book Review

A 52-year-old writer, a poet and a physician - Taslima Nasrin has won numerous awards for her work in writing on women suppression, and her tireless campaigns advocating freedom of thought and human rights. But unfortunately, she is recognized for her critical and audacious writing - which in some opinions is against "religious or cultural beliefs" of a nation that is known to be democratic, with Freedom of Speech and Expressions as it's fundamental rights. Taslima Nasrin, a Bengali writer born in Bangladesh, has been living in exile since 1994 for her powerful and critical writings.

Exile is the story of a woman and a writer, who was forced to live in exile, with multiple fatwas (a point of Islamic Law) seeking her death. Taslima has been forced to live away from her own country, Bangladesh, but this book is her shocking and conspiratorial account of her struggles in India in 2007, when she returned to the land she called her second home.

After having lived in Europe and America for almost 10 years, Taslima took a sigh of relief when she came to India to live in Kolkata, West Bengal. It was as if she had come back home. Everything seemed perfect, until she was invited for her Book launch in Hyderabad. Members of a religious political party, without much vindication or warning, barged in on the launch and threatened Taslima with her life. And thus began her never ending eviction from her own country and extended deportation from India. She was boycotted in Hyderabad, forced to evacuate from Kolkata, and house arrested in Delhi for her safety and to maintain law and order in the State.

"..sixty years of independence has clearly been unable to teach us about the fine line that runs through personal viewpoints and tolerance." - Exile by Taslima Nasrin

Without a doubt, Taslima is an inordinate and an unbiased writer on feminism. But little did she see the approaching thunder of politics and religious tensions, which not only brought a downpour, but also jolted her with the sudden lightning strikes. In her book she recounts her journey through multiple near death experiences, life in confinement, and the yearning to live an ordinary life as a woman.

Political conspiracies and incompetency to maintain law and order, led to involvement of powerful names in each city, ready to handover the "burden" to another city. Irrespective of her stature or fame prior to these incidents, she was alone in this hour of need. Family could not help, even if they wanted to; people around her became uncooperative; and acquaintances only gave her unsolicited advice. It's a dreadful, tear jerking and an unbelievable story of a writer - who just wanted to write.

Final Thoughts

It's difficult to form an opinion, but not when it comes to feminism or the Freedom of Speech and Expression. In that case, we are all on the same page. Taslima Nasrin's memoir: Exile is her journey living away from home, banned in two cities of India, house arrested to keep her safe from extremists, numerous fatwas released in her name for her assassination, and living a confined life since 1994. This book is about surviving an enforced life, which is a consequence of outrageous opinions of select few, backed by the powerful political networking. It is an honest and influential story, with unbelievable revelations of a flawless public façade.

About The Author

Taslima Nasrin is a Bengali writer, poet, novelist, and a former physician, originally from Bangladesh - who is known for her critical writings on feminism and religion. She advocates freedom of thought and human rights, and has received many awards for her work. She has many books in her name, which have been translated into many languages. Most of them have been banned in Bangladesh and India.

Genre Memoir
Price Rs. 599 (Review copy received as part of Flipkart Blogger Review Program)
Pages 342 pages
Format Paperback
Publisher Penguin Books India
Availability Flipkart IN
Rating  (4 Stars)

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Love & Peace



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