University Press Limited is about to bring forth the Bengali version of phenomenal French writer Karthika Nair's "Honey Hunter" at La Galerie of Alliance Francaise de Dhaka on October 31. Cultural Minister Asaduzzaman Noor will be the chief guest of the book launching ceremony while Sophie Aubert the French ambassador will grace the event as the guest of honour. After the book launch the first stage adaptation of the translated book will be put on display by theatre troupe BotTala. Honey Hunter is a children's story and has been translated into Bengali by Shamim Azad.
Assessing in brief
"Le Tigre du Miel" is the original title of "Honey Hunter" as it was first published in France with illustrations by noted artist Jo?lle Jolivet. It was jointly published by Zubaan in India and Editions Hélium in France in 2013. The story is about a boy named Shonu. Shonu lives in the Bangladeshi part of Sundarban with his parents who fend for themselves by collecting honey. Suddenly the tidal land of Sundarban washed by three adjoining rivers suddenly gets threatened by climactic change. The largest mangrove forest of the world gets hit by cyclone ushering in drought and famine for the people living off it.
Stricken with hunger the starving Shonu dares a whimsical journey into the heart of Sundarban in search of honey. What is more compelling for him is that this is the time when the great forest is virtually deemed unwelcoming for honey seekers. Thus Shonu breaks the laws of nature and gets caught in a preternatural and ominous struggle for survival. In the quasi fable-like setting of his surrounding he comes across the forest deities-a goddess who looks after the forest, the fabled Bonbibi herself and the demon tiger who musters the laws of the jungle.
The story of Shonu is not necessarily a didactic one but it certainly has significant references to ecosystem and ecological imbalances caused by human greed and destruction. The story makes a brilliant use of imagery and poetic devices to evoke visual and auditory sensations.
"Honey Hunter" is an extended offshoot of celebrated British choreographer Akram Khan's dance drama titled "DESH." The dance drama features a man to reflect the resilience and determination of Bangladeshi people in fighting both traditional natural forces and contemporary adversaries. Visuals for the drama are directed by Tim Yip, Oscar winning production designer of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Karthika Nair composed the script for the drama. In an interview given to "New Indian Express" Karthika Nair confirmed that "Honey Hunter" is an uncompleted section of "DESH." "DESH" was scripted to tell a story which would end right before its climax so that its young British Bangladeshi audiences would feel eager to learn their mother tongue to know the rest of the story expected to be brought out in Bangla.
It did arouse curiosity in them to learn Bangla but Anita Roy senior commissioning editor of Zubaan persuaded Karthika to publish at least a manipulation of the climax of "DESH" for native Europeans.
Kerala born Karthika Nair is a South-Indian by birth. She moved to France in 2000 to pursue her master's degree in Arts Management. She became a permanent citizen of France afterwards. Her first poetry collection "Bearings" was published in 2009. Then she went on to work for "DESH" in 2011 before penning "Honey Hunter" two years later. She is currently working on a recreation of the "Mahabharata" titled "Until the Lions" which will echo the epic Indian classic in eighteen different voices.