A conversation with Bangladesh’s award-winning author of “Only I Know You”, Farzana Mitu.

By Andrew Carmichael.

Farzana Mitu is a popular and a decorated writer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She started to write in 2011, first with poetry, and later entered into “Novel Writing”.  In 2020, she was awarded the prestigious ‘Aduna best Writer Prize’, and in 2016, her script for the Novel “ Only I know you”., was nominated as one best 1o scripts. She is a regular contributor in the country’s leading daily and weekly newspapers where she mainly writes on social issues awareness and human rights. 

  1. You are an acclaimed writer who has been decorated with various literary awards , can you tell us about your literary journey so far?

A journey of Literary begun when I was a very young girl, started writing about anything’s which made lough and wonder. Writing also started out on a good note for me.  Before I could write, I used to illustrate books—drawings on white papers that I would staple together like a book.  As I entered middle and high school, reading and writing became a different experience for me.  The focus of literary  became faded.  Any sort of creative expression was traded for the five-paragraph essay.  Still, I liked literature  class because I was good at it, but I didn’t feel that love for literacy that I’d felt much  later in my life.

  1. You won the prestigious “Aduna best Writer Prize’, and in 2016, your script for the Novel “ Only I know you”, can you tell about the novel to your potential readers across Asia, and beyond. 

The Novel “ Only I know you”, is one of my favourite pieces of work -it is about a triangular love story, between 2 boys and 1 girl as love is the center point of these three love souls. The story is full of love and  joys with green and freshness. The story has turned into a dramatic lane when the girl lost her love bird, but wondered  the real love was  so close to her which never noticed.  

  1. It is a very often heard that travelling transforms people, is that true with your life? How has travelling has influenced on your writing? 

Yes, traveling had profound impact on my life and of course on my work eventually. I have experienced and lived through different cultures and festivals. And especially met so many interesting people and interacted with them.  I felt, I became part of them. I  became enriched with humanity and universality. I felt obligations to the society and countries beyond the border.  Positivity became part of my life. All these good things reflected upon me – on my thoughts and creations.

  1. There is a drastic decline in the readership for poems across the world, as a published poet and a novelist what is your opinion on that? 

People, in general, don’t read much literature, now a days. There are various reasons and factors. Women read more than men, it turns out; for example, as more women have entered the workforce, their full-time employment has left them with less leisure to read. But time spent reading has declined steadily for both genders. Maybe people read less when they have less money?  Also perhaps,  why people don’t read much is, that reading is a time-consuming process. It takes a lot of our precious time to read even a single book. Another reason could be social media. Even a little kid knows that watching a video is far more relaxing than reading a few pages of a textbook. And because of this laziness, our brain is programmed in such a way, so that it can understand things without making any necessary efforts to understand them in the first place.

  1. You have published more than 30 books so far, and they have been embraced by your readership across the country and beyond, how d you find time for writing while paying your roles as a woman, wife to a busy husband , mother in Bangladeshi society? Do social and cultural norms in your country hinder emergence of female writers? 

Life is a journey with comfort, pain, problems and hopes. Society around the World has been transformed in a positive direction but still there are problems and barriers for women to raise. However, Women are united now.  They are doing hard work and contributing lot to the society. It is now hard to ignore them. However, still a long way to go. Everybody, men and women, influencers and policy makers, as well as the family and community, need to play their parts and make the World a better place for everybody.

  1. As a widely read writer, what is your opinion about the power of literature in social change ? 

Literature has shaped civilisations, changed power  systems and exposed injustice. Literature gives us a detailed preview of human experiences, allowing us to connect on basic levels of desire and emotion. I believe, “literature is thought provoking; it allows us to raise questions and gives us a deeper understanding of issues and situations.”

  1. It is said that a writer often expresses his/her feelings/thoughts and emotions through his/her characters (at various levels, of course). Do you think so? If yes, can you elaborate?

Yes, I think so, writers express their disapproval of societies rules and norms which might favour certain class. A writer may express a theme/thought through the feelings of his main character about the subject he has chosen to write about. Similarly, themes are presented through thoughts and conversations of different characters. 

  1. Getting your first book published is not an easy job. And, almost every author has to pass through a difficult time for his/her first creation to get published. Can you share your journey to get your first book published?

Yes, publishing first book is a difficult task as nobody knows you, you never published a book, the publisher won’t take any monetary risk-all these make the work complicated. Naturally you just cannot approach to one publisher, instead to many publishers, and my case it was 5 publishers. Some of them were arrogant and un-helpful, but some of them were very understandable and quite helpful.

  1. What can your readership expect in the near future? Can you tell us a bit about it?

The readership expects that I continue my writing, and focus on more thrillers, and  kind of focus mind-games. They expect I write more than a single book in year.

  1. Are there any authors you admire deeply, and why?

Yes, I admire the famous and most popular Novelist in Bangladesh,  Mr. Humayun Ahmed. His books speak for and reflect the society and human characters.

  1. If you were given a change to select one of your books for a film, what would you choose and why ? 

I would choose my latest creation –Mukesh (mask) and sketch (part 1 and 2)- as the World runs by Corporate Society and my Novel was created  based on various characters within the corporate sector. It seems what we see in many cases is not reality-it likes, dual personalities in an individual-the person behind the mask and the real person. We will see love, hate, jealousy, competition, greed and goodness and evil souls. The movie would be a mirror of the real world.

  1. Aside from writing, what are your interests? What do you like to do to unwind?

I love to listen music from different time, watch movie, travelling around the world and to do voluntary work and creating awareness on important social issues, like breast cancer, uterus cancer, ageing population and so on.

  1. What is your opinion on the need for people to engage in the creation (or consumption) of the literary arts amidst the ongoing, and rather stressful, COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioral sciences can be used to help align human behaviors with the recommendations of public health experts. 

  1. What is your message to budding authors around the world? 

Budding authors explore creative writing, exchange ideas, sharing experiences and enhance cultural diversity. Even if  not possible  in face to face meeting, but through social media, online communications and as well messenger, WhatsApp etc. The literary world has no boundaries; therefore, we keep communications on and feel like “we all live in one global village”.  

Categories: Interviews

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