A coming-of-age novel based in the newly formed country, Bangladesh
New Delhi, 15 September 2022: Penguin Random House India announces the acquisition and publication of Bangladeshi-American writer Iffat Nawaz’s debut book, titled Shurjo’s Clan. Magic realism steeped in history, this literary fiction is a coming-of-age story of a girl growing up in a newly formed country, Bangladesh. The book is scheduled to release later in the year.
Riddled with the traumas of their past—death, war, migration, separation, the inability to belong to a land, dwelling in an in-between space, and an eternal limbo—Shurjo’s Clan, told through the eyes of a young protagonist, is a book that follows the journey of one family as they face several challenges and obstacles. Spanning decades, from the forced migration of Bengalis to East Pakistan in 1947, through the 1971 liberation war, the wave of immigrants to the West in the 1980s, and a final return, Iffat Nawaz’s novel is both a story of personal transitions and transformation as well as a chronicle of a country born into sorrow.
“A brave new voice. A deeply captivating saga. Shurjo’s Clan announces the arrival of an immensely talented and evocative writer.”, said renowned author Anees Salim.
Expressing her thoughts, Nawaz says, ‘The stories of Shurjo’s Clan were passed down to me as inheritance, from both my family and motherland. I carried them for decades before I could see the clearer and bigger picture. At first, I was a very attached inheritor of these second-hand experiences, but after approaching the novel from several different directions, I was able to detach slightly and tell the otherwise heavy story of war and migration while aspiring to turn it towards light. I believe certain tales of our broken pasts, of severed old nations and joyful yet grieving new ones, are ready to be rewritten for the present context so that we can shed certain limiting conditioning. I hope this new direction will be felt by the readers of my debut novel, and I have full trust in Penguin Random House to carry Shurjo’s Clan forward.’
Imaginative and compelling, Shurjo’s Clan merges magical realism with vivid historicity to paint an entirely contemporary portrait of how grief is inherited, and how the traumas and memories of our ancestors continue to shape those who come long after. Nawaz’s lyrical and evocative prose marks the arrival of a distinctive voice that unravels questions of mourning, belonging, identity, and family with delightful imaginativeness and devastating insight. With its mesmerizing balance between inexplicable otherworldliness and undeniable reality, this debut novel asks, above all, how can the past be honoured without letting its wounds destroy the present. The book is perfect not only for those who enjoy reading historical fiction but would also appeal to readers of the literary genre and have a taste for stories dealing with magical realism.
Elizabeth Kuruvilla, Executive Editor, Ebury Publishing and Vintage, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Iffat Nawaz is an impressive new voice in fiction. This is a story of the subcontinent—the 1971 war and families torn apart as a new nation came into being, as also the haunting memories of the Partition—but it could well be the story of any people bearing the unrelenting scars of a conflict. Shurjo’s Clan is a deeply affecting novel, more so for the extraordinarily imaginative telling of grief that endures across generations.’
Milee Ashwarya, Publisher, Ebury Publishing and Vintage, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Shurjo’s Clan marks the debut of a new and unique voice in the firmament of literary fiction. The characters are haunting, and the stories will stay with one for a long time. I am delighted and proud to publish Shurjo’s Clan and I hope it captivates the imagination of many readers across the globe.’
About the author
Iffat Nawaz was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 7, 1978. She worked for over a decade in humanitarian and development projects in the USA, Asia and Africa. In 2016, she published a book titled Untold stories of Tanguar Haor, a collection of true accounts of a local community that lives in a water basin at the border of India and Bangladesh, commissioned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Iffat’s weekly column, ‘Under a Different Sky’, ran for 10 years in Bangladesh’s English newspaper The Daily Star. Her writing has appeared in the, Zubaan Books, Himal Southasian, and The Indian Quarterly. Since 2018, Iffat has been living in Pondicherry where she is devoted to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo.