Reviews of my nonfiction book “The Unheard I.”
1. By Prof. Dr. Sunil Sharma, from Bombay, India:
Kiriti Sengupta, when not performing dental procedures on decaying / decayed teeth, loves to compose lines in Bengali and meditate on many issues. Some of these reflections are finding their slow but sure way into the library of a well-read and aware reader − thanks to a mini-book tantalizingly called The Unheard I, a rich collection of pieces with wide-ranging topics from the poetic, spiritual, and mundane to the difficult art of translation.
The 63-page, beautifully-translated and produced book is disorienting to a reading-expectation revolving around traditional modes of writing and production. The book tosses different ideas and strands as lightly as a master chef tosses delicate long noodles and other ingredients in a wok and serves up a rich spread − hot, appealing and delectable.
Kiriti comes up with a rare genre of writing − Yogic poetry that celebrates Indian heritage now globally known for its holistic healing. From dentistry complexities to yogic poetry to a clinical examination of the first person singular I is a demanding task that only multi-talented Kiriti Sengupta − a dental surgeon and predominantly Bengali-language poet − can perform.
The Unheard I is a sincere engagement with some themes of enduring value. It needs to be read and further discussed by well-meaning critics and readers interested in a creative exploration of charity, yogic philosophy and practice and the art and science of translation. Go and grab a copy and then plunge into some serious stuff you will not find in this age of mindless thrillers and commercial pulp fiction.
2. By Prof. Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi, from Calcutta, India:
Dr Kiriti Sengupta’s “The Unheard I” is a reading wonder which unfolds a colourful image gallery of new trend in writing. It’s an enjoyable read even though a reader stumbles at several doors. When the doors are opened with master keys its an inviting discourse. I was fascinated by the interesting mix up of genres in the book. I read again to conceptualise my ideas. Is it a meta nonfiction? Possibilities are wide open. If we go by the present critical nuances the book is an interesting discourse where the author has made some deliberate choices.
It’s about the narrator; about writing and translation from Bengali. An orthodox reader may find the book “shocking”. It moves on! It moves our cerebral cells. Foreword of the book is a key to get into the book. Editor’s Note clearly mentions the idea behind the publication of the book. Don Martin states, “Kiriti was a joy to work with(.)” Joy spills over white pages of the book as we are whisked from one idea to another.
The book has three segments: A Serious ToF; Yogic Poetry; The Indian Heritage and The Translator I. Out of these three parts I personally like the second part where the author has introduced Indian heritage and Yogic poetry. The ideas are not definite but make sense. The author doesn’t try to historicise the traditional heritage. He makes his own selections and enjoys a licence. No reader should form a definite heritage out of this seemingly partial presentation of a tradition handed down generation after generation. It reminds me a modern trend in different parts of the globe where poetry is performance. I’ve attended a few of them in alien shores. It’s again back to our ideological position. Can poems be reflection of a meditative mind? Can poems be circulated and written for facebook community? I think the world is changing fast.There is a new threat for critics, writers and reviewers: requests flood like rivers in monsoon. There are so many types of writings as there are innumerable writers in the world. Life narratives emerge as a potent body of nonfiction. There is no hard and fast rule for its contents. It leaves possibilities open!
“The Unheard I” is a literary proto autobiography of a dental surgeon where the author moves out of his professional world and explores “self- realisations”. Some descriptions are sketchy and short. But there are rooms for improvement in the next updated edition. Writing is an ongoing process. It’s mutual. Both the readers and the author evolve over a period of time. And there is always a proper time for everything. Elegant production of the book adds a separate dimension. We do think that those who have a drive to write nonfiction, and who persist with the genre end up in good writing. Granted, everything is not attractive, but something is really engaging which pulls a reader back to his seat.
There are translations (from Kiriti’s mother tongue) of some poems in the book. Good or bad doesn’t matter. It’s a valuable reflection of a society/culture rich with art. The selection of poets is personal. It can go to any number. I was expecting a logic behind the selection of poems from the vast and encompassing reservoir. It’s about a very rich culture where one should be careful. Translation of a rich culture to the global readers is a serious act. I hope Kiriti has good answers to follow up. I’ll be happy if the book travels well in future. Hope it carries healthy food as baggage.
What I like most of the book is the ending of the book. It prepares us for the next book. Any way, the book promises to be a stable march for a better tomorrow. Happy surgery in words!
3. By Stuart Aken, from England:
This short piece of esoteric literature came my way via contacts on Facebook. The book is divided into three sections: A Serious ToF (Twist of Fate); Yogic Poetry: the Indian Heritage; The Translator ‘I’. So, I think you will realise this is not a work of interest to what might be called the ‘common reader’. It is a scholarly piece that will appeal to those with an interest in poetry, particularly spiritual poetry expressed as literature, as well as those who have a leaning toward or a significant interest in Indian myth and religion.
The Twist of Fate referred to above is an anthology of pieces collected together to present to readers as a way of gathering funds to help those left in distress by the tornado that hit Oklahoma in May 2013. And this first chapter of the book is a presentation of the author’s experiences in contributing to that anthology.
Poetry, let alone Yogic Poetry, is a genre of which I have little experience. My admiration of the craft lies within the bounds of the variety of works produced by the two Dylans (Bob and Thomas). And my knowledge of Indian culture is minimal. So, I found this section both illuminating and confusing. The many references to the Yogic culture were lost on me, but the general sense of spirituality came through.
The Translator ‘I’ deals with the author’s work and attitudes regarding translation as a craft. He is an acknowledged translator of work from Bengali to English. I’m no linguist, but I have always admired the skill that allows those who understand more than one language to translate not just words but meaning. The ability to convey the essence of a piece written in one language when converting it into another is almost magical to me.
So, not a general reader’s book, but a piece of work that will undoubtedly find favour with those interested in the subject matter discussed. It is to those readers that I recommend the book.