Where’s “The Black Coat”

Bangladeshi-Canadian writer Neamat Imam has come up with his first novel, The Black Coat, joining the growing band of Bangladeshis making a mark writing in the language of the former colonial masters.

Syed Bashirbdnews24.com
Published : 8 June 2013, 00:54 AM
Updated : 8 June 2013, 04:41 AM

Imam, who lives in Edmonton, holds a doctorate in theatre studies and has authored a plan, collection of poetry and two novellas in Bangla.

He has taught in two universities in Bangladesh before he moved to Canada.

Like many in the country, Imam’s “The Black Coat” is set in the country’s 1971 Liberation War – rather in its aftermath.

Nur, who does a great job faking the country’s founding father Banganadhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the hero of the novel.

After a bloody struggle, Bangladesh is an independent nation. But thousands are pouring into Dhaka from all over the country, looking for food and shelter.

Among them is Nur Hussain, an uneducated young man from a remote village, who is only good at mimicking Mujib’s famous Ramna speech.

He turns up at journalist Khaleque Biswas’s doorstep, seeking employment.

Khaleque, who has recently lost his job, seeks to turn Nur into a fake Sheikh Mujib. With the blessings of the political establishment, he starts cashing in on the nationalist fervour of the city’s poorest.
But even as the money rolls in, the tension between Khaleque and Nur increases and reaches a violent climax when Nur refuses to stick to the script.
”Intense yet chilling, this brilliant first novel is a meditation on power, greed and the human cost of politics,” says a brief on the novel by its publishers, Penguins India.
Imam follows the lead of Bangladesh-born British writer Monica Ali, whose “Brick Lane” hit the headlines specially after it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 and later made into a film.
Tahmima Anam’s 2007 novel “A Golden Age”, also set in the backdrop of the 1971 war, won great acclaim.
The first generation of Bangladeshi writers in English were mostly poets like Razia Khan Amin, Farida Majid the great Kaiser Huq, Feroz Ahmed-ud-din, Syed Najumuddin Hashim and Rumana Sidduque.
But a host of migrant writers have taken to English fiction writing in recent years, with Australia-based Adib Khan leading the field with his five novels – from Seasonal Adjustments (1984) to Spiral Road (2007).
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher