Those Days-Aruna Chakravarthy-Book Review

Those Days by Aruna Chakravarthy – The English Translation of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Sei Samay

Amazon Sei Samay

Most writers aspire to write and publish their own work and learn from their mistakes. However, some writers choose to translate the work of other renowned authors as it not only helps to enhance their perception but also improves their writing skills.

Amazon Those days

Such writers contribute significantly to the literary world by helping expand the reach of the works of famous authors. Aruna Chakravarthy belongs to the second category of writers and her book Those Days is a translation of famous Bengali writer, Sh Sunil Gangopadhyay’s novel Ei Samay.  

Premise:  Those Days/Sei Samay

The book takes the readers back to a time when the feudal aristocracy was dying a slow death. The wealthy zamindars are gradually realizing their social responsibilities as they are breaking free from the shackles of age-old rituals and pleasures. The book focuses on the two immensely wealthy Zamindar families named Singha and Mukherjee, whose households offer an insight into the social and cultural life of affluent people of Calcutta during that time. The most important events of the time have been skillfully woven into the narrative and add significant value to the story. Similarly, Sunil Gangopadhyay has added interactions between several prominent personalities of that time and the fictional characters of the book to make it more realistic. 

Highlights Of Translation: Those Days/Sei Samay

One of the biggest challenges of translating a literary work is to ensure that its essence remains unchanged. Aruna has done a great job in this context through the correct use of words and phrases. Be it the characters, the situations, or the storyline, Aruna has maintained a much-desired proximity to the original text. Just like the original novel paints a vivid picture of nineteenth-century Bengal, the translated version is equally descriptive. Similarly, the concepts of orthodoxy, the plight of child marriages and child widows, and the evils of polygamy and womanizing rampant among the zamindars during those times have been presented with the same level of (dis)taste and poignance as in the original text. The overall tone and the feel of the book have also been retained to a great extent and this is one of the biggest achievements of this book. 

Plot Setting:  Those Days/Sei Samay

Aruna has succeeded in maintaining the rustic beauty of the times during which events of the book take place. She has showcased the Revolt of 1857 and the Bengal Renaissance movement with the same subtlety and sensitivity in the background as the original writer. Moreover, the blend of real-life and fictional characters, that forms the core of the book, is also not lost in the translation.  

Who Should Read It: Those Days/Sei Samay

Final Verdict: Those Days/Sei Samay

I consider Those Days a must-read book for all, especially lovers of Bengali literature. I give it a rating of 4.5/5.  I will also not deny the fact that I read the Bengali original version of the book when I was perhaps in 9th or 10th standard. It impacted me so much that I decided to give the translated version a try to read and Aruna Chakraborthy impressed me completely.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘BookishCafeBloghop2024’ hosted by Samata Dey Bose and Rakhi J

This post is part of the Bookish League blog hop hosted by Bohemian Bibliophile