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My Poems are not for your Ad Campaigns by Anuradha Sarma Pujari: book review

About the book:

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 176 pages

  • Order your copy: Here

In a recently liberated economy characterized by speed, the commodification of women's bodies, and consumerist culture, Bhashwati is an increasingly disillusioned misfit who has, ironically, just started working in an advertising firm. But her life changes one day when she finds out about the mysterious Mohua Roy - a former copywriter of the company, whose desk Bhashwati now uses. The company employees remain tight-lipped about Mohua - who left abruptly for reasons unknown. Upon finding a poem written by Mohua, Bhashwati decides to search for her. This takes Bhashwati to Calcutta's lanes where she meets people who sacrificed immensely for the same values that she finds eroded in a developing India. Who is Mohua Roy and why is there a net of silence around her very existence? Will Bhashwati find Mohua? Will she leave her job, just like Mohua?

First published in 1997 in Assamese, Hriday Ek Bigyapan , was an instant bestseller, selling thirty-two reprints in the next ten years. By taking a close look at the newly globalized India of the nineties from a feminist lens, it poses questions about modern urban life that few Indian novels have been able to, questions that are still relevant today. Aruni Kashyap's seamless translation from the Assamese makes this a must read.

My Thoughts:

“My Poems are not for your ad Campaign” is a captivating translated fiction that immerses readers into the bustling world of advertising and marketing in 1990s India. Originally written in Assamese, this gem of regional literature brings to light the transformative journey of a woman navigating the challenges and opportunities in the private sector.

Set against the backdrop of India's rapidly evolving economic landscape, the protagonist, Bhashwati, finds herself in the heart of an ad agency, a domain predominantly dominated by men. Through her eyes, we witness the gradual growth of women's participation in this dynamic industry and darker side of it. As Bhashwati, navigates the corporate maze, she finds herself amidst of young girls who are stuck in a job constantly running behind targets and pressure of earning subsistence. The book offers a rich and insightful exploration of gender dynamics, work-life balance, and the changing face of Indian society during that era.

Amidst the professional hustle, the book beautifully explores the theme of searching for love in a mundane marriage life. As she and her partner, Prayag, both busy working professionals, navigate the demands of their careers, they find themselves drifting apart in the daily routine.

The beauty of translated literature lies in its ability to offer a window into a world we might not have otherwise discovered. "My Poems are not for your Ad campaign” does just that, providing readers with an intimate glimpse into the advertising and marketing world, peppered with anecdotes and experiences unique to India's cultural fabric. The author took us on a trip to Bhaswati’s childhood spent in Dibrugarh and busy lanes of office “Para” of 90s Calcutta.

The Assamese essence of the original text adds a touch of authenticity and depth to the narrative, making the story resonate even more with readers seeking diversity and hidden gems in regional Indian literature. As we follow Meera's journey, we gain a profound appreciation for the power of storytelling and the universality of human experiences across regions.

The language of the book, despite being translated to English, retains its soul, beautifully capturing the nuances of the Assamese language and its inherent charm. This seamless translation allows a broader audience to engage with the story while celebrating the unique perspectives that regional literature has to offer.

"My poems are not for your ad campaign" is not just a tale of one woman's journey; it symbolizes the progress of an entire generation of women who carved their path in the private sector. It celebrates their triumphs, challenges, and resilience.

In conclusion, "My poems are not for your ad campaign" is a hidden gem among regional Indian literature, elegantly blending cultural authenticity with universal themes. It sheds light on an era of transformation and serves as a reminder that the power of storytelling knows no bounds, transcending language and cultural barriers.

About the Author:

Anuradha Sarma Pujari (Author)

Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award, Pujari is one of the most popular writers in Assam today. She is the author of ten novels, including Mereng (a biographical novel about the Indian education activist Indira Miri), Hriday Ek Bigyapan, Neel Prajapati (Blue Butterflies), and most recently Iyat Ekhon Aranya Asil (There Used to be a Forest Here). Pujaree is also the author of four short story collections and five collections of essays. An editor of the largest Assamese weekly newspaper Sadin and the monthly literary magazine Satsori, she has won the Kumar Kishore Memorial Literary Award from Asom Sahitya Sabha (2003). As a journalist in a profession dominated by men in Assam, she is one of the most successful. The author maintains a direct relationship with her readers through a wide range of literary events.

Aruni Kashyap (Translator)

ARUNI KASHYAP is the author of His Father's Disease: Stories and The House with a Thousand Stories. He has edited How to Tell the Story of an Insurgency and translated two novels from Assamese to English. He also writes in Assamese. He has been the recipient of grants and fellowships such as the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and his poetry collection There Is No Good Time for Bad News was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Awards 2022, among others. He is an associate professor of English and the director of the creative writing program at the University of Georgia, Athens.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023

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