Ghost Alley by Javed Jahangir
Price: Tk 700/$12/€10
Ghost Alley is a novel by a well-published author Javed Jahangir based on 1971 Independence War of Bangladesh. The protagonist of this novel is a twelve year boy named Ludo who feels confused about his identity when Nadira nani comes to visit them and calls him a ‘bastard’. The narration of 1971 war is basically told by the story of this boy Ludo and his grandmothers. This book can also be termed as bildungsroman as we see him grown up in the end. When he is confronted with the question about how can his blood understand what is best to protect Bangladesh, he finally finds his answer and accepts his identity when his mother stands for him.
The book is written by the USA based author, at a time when hardly anyone knows the struggle that Bangladesh had to go through in 1971. The author tries to bridge this by his attempt to write this book. He not only narrates 1971, but goes back and forth in 1984, 1940 and 1971. Like the protagonist himself, the author seems to find the answer to the instability in Bangladesh by reviewing several leading upheavals that the nation faced. Though, a war novel, the book has beautifully weaved personal stories of trauma, betrayal, unacceptability and acceptance.
His techniques of going back and forth in different time zones make the book interesting and intriguing for a reader to continue reading. It is good to see that young authors are coming up with fresh texts on 1971. Not only that they are writing about the history of Bangladesh but they are also writing in English to grab the attention of global readers. However, if a text is meant to reach global reader, then the liabilities to remain as close as the reality in the narration becomes a must. I think Javed Jahangir has tried to reach that level to be an authentic narrator. Ghost Alley, by Javed Jahangir, traces the story of Bangladesh as the untold third splinter of the Indian Partition. The narrator, Ludo, is a 12 year old misfit, who lives with his mother, aunts, and mad grandmother, Suraya. When Suraya’s half-sister, the blind Nadira, comes to their house seeking silent revenge for unknown past crimes, Ludo’s world begins to unravel. Ludo realizes that unsaid secrets are preventing the family from helping his infirm grandmother, he has to decide upon a course of action. At stake is not only his grandmother, but ultimately himself.