Home is Suddenly a Foreign Land
Sayantan Dasgupta
THE RUNAWAY BOY (Chandal Jibon)–TRILOGY BOOK I by Manoranjan Byapari. Translated from the original Bengali by V. Ramaswamy Eka, an imprint of Westland, 2020, 361 pp., 599.00
August 2021, volume 45, No 8

The Runaway Boy is a novel that packs a punch! It is a novel about the downtrodden. About oppression at various social levels.  And, most of all, about the struggle for survival.

The Runaway Boy, a trilogy, traces the lives of Garib Das and his son, Jibon. And through their lives, Manoranjan Byapari chronicles the tempestuous politics of several decades of the twentieth century in Bengal. The autobiographical novel starts off in 1953 in Barisal, now Bangladesh, and ends in Kolkata, which is where the protagonists settle in their quest for survival.

In the course of this journey, we get a telling look at the workings of the Long Partition that operates on the eastern border of India, and at life in the refugee camps set up by the Government of India for people driven out of the erstwhile East Pakistan, and a (much more cosmetic) peep into the Naxalite movement and the Bongal Khedao movement in Assam, both of which are referred to in this novel.

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