Born in 1953 in Old Dhaka, Shahidul Zahir died young and published only six works in his lifetime — but these are some of the most unique and powerful works of fiction to have come out of the subcontinent. With his own particular blend of surrealism, folklore, oral storytelling traditions, magic realism, a searing understanding of social and political reality, and rare clarity of vision, he forged a truly extraordinary voice.
Life and Political Reality is the work that established his reputation and granted him cult status in Bangladesh. It examines the 1971 war and its aftermath — a treatise on liberation, and the destruction of the idealism and spirit of post-war Bangladesh, told in a single corrosive, stream-of-consciousness paragraph. Abu Ibrahim’s Death is a quieter companion novella, and one that is equally concerned with idealism and compromise, as it studies with deep empathy and nuance the fall of its titular protagonist.