History lures every reader of fiction.
It’s the charm of a story that could possibly be real; a course in search for greater aesthetic intoxication. Whether aesthetically true to the expectation of a story seeker or not, history never disappoints writers—I have seen many who seem to flourish on the soil of historical investigation. A book on history is a treasure trove, due to the above mentioned reasons. Subhas and Sarat: An Intimate Memoir of the Bose Brothers by late Dr. Sisir Kumar Bose (1920–2000) is one such volume.
The title is too direct as the title description. The book is more about the Bose family and how it handled the challenge of being at crossroads with the history of the nation.
It’s not uncommon in fiction, lately, to see stories of families whose histories are intertwined with national histories. Individuals face the ordeal of being born with the birth of the nation and fights their way up to adulthood along with the unravelling of the stages of development of the nation. However, in nonfiction writing in India, such an endeavour is certainly refreshing. In Subhas and Sarat the author attempts to bring forth, in the form of an autobiography, the story of the Bose family of Bengal during the early twentieth century, during one of the most significant era of Indian history. Author Sisir Kumar Bose ‘was born to Sarat and Bivabati just as India’s anti-colonial struggle became a mass movement at the beginning of the 1920s’ (ix).
The strength of the book is the sheer number of details Dr. Sisir Kumar Bose is able to include from the history of his family. Along with the major member of the Bose family, persons like Kaloo Singh who became trusted assistants of the Bose brothers, emerge. These minor characters, along with the detail sketch of the major figures, give the memoir the form and texture of a highly readable literary feast.
Rare photographs of the public and private life of the Bose brothers adore the central pages of the book. Subhas and Sarat was originally published in Bengali language under the title Bosu-bari (‘The House of the Boses’), which was serialized in a significant Bengali journal named Anandamela. Sumantra Bose, in her introduction, narrates these elements that coagulated leading to the manifestation of Subhas and Sarat. The English translation of the work has been undertaken by Dr. Sisir Bose himself, which was later revised by Sumantra Bose. Sisir Bose leads the reader through his lucid narrative style into one of the most thrilling episodes of Indian freedom struggle, the formation of INA (Indian National Army) by Subhas Chandra Bose. This simplicity of narration also keeps the story accessible to the newly emerging English reading public in India. Dr Sisir Kumar Bose sums up the memoir with a quotation from British author G K Chesterton implying the rarity of the adventures he had while experiencing firsthand the transformative revolution of a great nation.
Author: Sisir Kumar Bose
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Release: May 2016
Genre: Non fiction/Politics/Memoirs
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Reviewed by: Anu Lal
Anu Lal is a bestselling author, book reviewer and blogger. His recent book, You Should Know How I Feel… has been a bestseller Contemporary Romance in Amazon ebooks, and paperback. He is the first Indian author to write a trilogy in short story collections in English: ‘Hope, Vengeance and History’ trilogy. The first book in this trilogy is Wall of Colours and Other Stories, which is published in July 2013. You can reach him at his blog.