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Acrobat by Nabaneeta Dev Sen


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Acrobat by Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Paperback $18.00
Apr 27, 2021 | ISBN 9781939810809

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  • Apr 27, 2021 | ISBN 9781939810809

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“A new collection of Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s work, some translated into English by the poet and some, with great felicity, by her daughter Nandana Dev Sen, is beautifully produced by Archipelago Books and covers a spectrum of the poet’s gifts from the playful and tender that recall Tagore to the fierce and passionate in her later work, the final poems not so much shadowed by death as ignited by it.” – Anita Desai, author of Clear Light of Day and Fasting, Feasting

“Poetry and music are both languages of the heart, so it is a special gift when a great poet of the world is finally well-translated. Here, the legendary Bengali poet, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, is re-birthed in English by her daughter, Nandana Dev Sen. I believe that Acrobat is a book that will rescue us and be loved around the world.”
Gloria Steinem

“These translations of Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s poems capture her quirky yet profound voice so beautifully that I felt I could hear her reading them aloud.  These are the poems of an adventurous and indefatigable traveler, observing the world with deep understanding and sympathy, through the prism of a sensibility that is securely rooted in the culture of Bengal.”
Amitav Ghosh

“These sparkling translations from Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s long, important body of work cycle through her (and our own) exigent concerns: time, identity, the familial. Dev Sen is famous for perfecting a remarkably clear syntax that incorporates sensual detail and repetition not as ornament but as the very ingredients of its riveting precision. And she always follows her own prescription: ‘Stay awake in every line.'”  — Forrest Gander

“One simultaneously hears the voices of mother and daughter in a duet of perfect harmony. The translations don’t read as translations; they read as poems, a new voice perfect in its own right, transcending the barrier of death.”
Wendy Doniger

“In Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s poems, she walks a tightrope between a black cloud and a cloud that is blood-red. When the rope shivers, you, the reader, can feel it in the lines and hold your breath. Good translations of modern Indian poetry are hard to come by. This one by Nandana Dev Sen has to be one of the best.”
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

“Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s Acrobat is that rare, majestic creature: a book that, through every page, underscores the quiet high-wire act required from the poet. It is a feat whose complexity is only matched by its mastery in inhabiting the multiple selves of artist, daughter, lover, mother, translator, scholar and more. Here are poems that capture the pleasures and trials of the human experience – desire, decay, mortality, childbirth, bereavement, wonder – with unsparing detail and sensitivity, and celebrate the gift of language which helps us transcend them.”
Karthika Naïr

“Kitchens, decks, doorways, sidewalks, restaurants, and bars are charged with significance as spaces where characters negotiate relationships and appraise their lives. Mundane objects that carry emotional weight—raincoats, hair ribbons, cups of coffee—bring the stories alive . . . In the short stories of Everything Like Before, loneliness, despair, and longing are described with devastating nuance.” —Rebecca Hussey, Foreword Reviews
“A prolific, peerless writer who made worlds and words come alive.” –Raja Sen

“There’s an aching beauty within each one of these translations. There’s assuredness balanced against vulnerability; there’s dignity and compassion. Nabaneeta was an acrobatic writer, uniquely able to negotiate the tightropes of language, migration, separation, union and motherhood, one of the most brilliant writers that I ever knew.” — Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

“Her pen unfolds a rare fluidity, an insight into human nature, a gift for satire capped with feather-light touches of humour.” –Times of India

“Deep, sparse and yet moving in poetry, Nabaneeta Dev Sen is gorgeous in her immaculate prose. Equally comfortable as a citizen of the world, as a woman exploring her own courtyard, Dev Sen’s literary existence contains several apparently irreconcilable facets.” —Anita Agnihotri

“It was through her creative writing that Dev Sen gave herself a sovereign presence in the Bengali literary sphere . . . She was not afraid of baring her pain in the early poetry she wrote, nor did she ever compromise on questions of freedom.” –Dipesh Chakrabarty

“[In her poetry], words are not symbols, not individualised characters, but sentinels that represent hopes, dreams, fears, and inner instincts.” –Uma Nair, Times of India

“Nabaneeta Dev Sen was one of the most beloved, versatile and prolific writers in Bengali literature. Equally expressive in poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction.” –Bookseller at McNally Jackson

“An extraordinary talent, author, poet, and novelist.” –Trisha De Niyogi, Bengaluru Review

“Her spontaneity, unique style of expression, vast and varied experience of life are evident in her poems, short stories, novels, features, and essays. Her wit and humor, sense of detachment together with heart-to-heart sensibility give her writings a personal touch that is hard to ignore.” –Indian Library of Congress

“In prose, Dev Sen radiated warmth and joy, enlivened by her trademark self-deprecating humour and a robust sense of hope and compassion even in the direst of circumstances.” –Somak Ghoshal, Livemint

“One of the doyens of Bengali Literature… I got to read whatever little I could of what was translated in English. But I hope more is translated. I hope more people read her. Quite a prolific writer.” –Vivek Tejuja

“In everything Nabaneeta Dev Sen was, writer-teacher-feminist, etc, her luminous poetic legacy is this: she (and her words) embraced life with critical exhilaration, anticipated and experienced its short-changes, and came back to life again with one more pirouette after the lights dimmed.” –Brinda Bose, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

“I knew Nabaneeta Dev Sen as a brilliant academic and a fierce advocate of women’s writing. Now, thanks to Nandana’s superb translations, I’m getting to know another Nabaneeta, whose insights into sadness, loss, and the inexorable march of time illuminate the world of the heart with blinding honesty and verbal grace. Above all, a Nabaneeta who is a very distinguished poet, up there with the best.”  — Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago

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