Bangladeshi author Shaheen Akhtar has been awarded the 3rd Asian Literary Award for her novel Talaash (Mowla Brothers, 2009).
The novel depicts the lasting suffering of Birangona women—survivors of sexual violence during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.Sponsored by the Asia Cultural Centre in Gwangju, South Korea, the award was declared on November 1, 2020 at the Asian Literature Festival.
The author, Shaheen Akhtar, was born in 1962, which had completed her graduation in Economics from the University of Dhaka.
She is well-known for her previous novels Palabar Path Nei and Sokhi Rongomala, which was translated as Beloved Rongomala (Bengal Lights Books, 2018) by Shabnam Nadiya.
In the year of 2015, Akhtar was awarded the prestigious Bangla Academy Shahitya Puroshkar, as well as the Akhtaruzzaman Elias Kothashahitya Award for her novel Moyur Shinghashon.
Her latest novel Ashukhi Din explores the Partition of Bengal. The author is presently working as a human rights professional at Ain O Salish Kendra, according to media report.
On receipt of the award, Shaheen Akhter shared, “During the nine months of war, [Birangona women] were raped by Pakistani soldiers—but how have they been treated in the 30 years since then, and who is responsible? That was my primary quest in writing this novel; it is a question inherently intermingled with the way our society approaches our history and its legacies, and one I think all of us need to reflect on, if we want to move onto another level as a society."Shaheen Akhter will be given a prize money of 20 million won (USD 17,500) and Talaash will be adapted as a performance piece at the next Asia Literature Festival.