‘Aranyak’ by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s ‘Aranyak’, published by Seagull Books and translated from Bengali by Rimli Bhattacharya, is an evocative book full of nostalgia, reverie, longing, and regret. Bandyopadhyay, whose other works inspired Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu’ trilogy, drew from his real-life experience for ‘Aranyak’. In it, Satyacharan, a graduate from Calcutta in quest of a job, agrees to work as a manager of a vast tract of forested land in northern Bihar, to ‘settle’ the forest with tenants and agriculture. Displaced from his urban milieu, and deeply lonely, he slowly grows enchanted by the forests.
‘Aranyak’ is an exploration of the many ways we interact with the world around us. Satyacharan surrenders to this place to which he never quite belongs. Forests full of wild things are culled and transformed to fields of maize and mustard. The protagonist is aware that he lives in a time that is passing: an ecological time and a period of history. It is self-conscious and reflective, asking questions about the many things that connect and remove Satyacharan from the people and place: caste, hierarchies and social location.
This August, we're reading ‘Aranyak’ for the Champaca Book Subscription and Book Club.
Our new theme for the subscription is Loneliness and Connection, and we’re exploring what it means to think of nature as a refuge in times of isolation. Read this book with us and join us in our book club meetings where we dive deep into the book, and what it meant for us. Join here.
For splainer readers we also have a special 10% discount on our subscription boxes! Head to our subscription sign-up page, add a plan to your cart, and use the discount code SPLAIN10 at checkout to avail the offer. The offer is valid until August 5.