Assam is a state that attracts visitors for its natural splendor, amazing wildlife and heritage. The literature of Assam has been enriched by contributions of several noted writers over the decades. The contemporary writers of Assamese origin have not only contributed to the literary wealth of the state, they have also enlightened the world about the life and culture of Assam through their writing.
Below listed are 5 contemporary writers from Assam who have made it big outside the state also.
Born in pre-Independence era Assam, Indira Goswami turned out to be one of the most talented and versatile writers of the state. Her original style and compassion for humanity made her novels and literary work has found favor with millions. Her novels and short stories set in various regions of India offer intimate peek into nuances of social and religious life and problems in India. She was popularly known as Dr. Mamoni Raisom Goswami. Noted film director Jahnu Barua made a film on her life.
Goswami had to battle and overcome personal woes in life before she could make it big as a writer. She coped with depression from childhood and the phase finds a mention in her autobiography titled- ‘The Unfinished Autobiography’. She also had a brief conjugal life and sudden demise of her husband left a deep scar in her mind.
However, she had the courage and her penchant to write which helped her survive and flourish in literary field. Her novels ‘The Chehnab's Current’ and ‘Ahiron’ contain several elements from her personal life. She relocated to Delhi later and became a Professor of Assamese. The majority of her literary work was composed during her stint at the university. Various short stories she wrote have Delhi as the backdrop. Her most famous works, ‘The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker’ and ‘Pages Stained With Blood’ were written during this phase too. Her novel ‘The Man from Chinnamasta’ based on animal sacrifice ritual in Kamakhya temple in Assam did create some controversy upon release. For her literary genius, Goswami won accolades and she was given the coveted International Tulsi Award and Sahitya Akademi Award. She was also honored with Jnanpith award in 2001.
Mitra Phukan is among the top Indian writers from Assam who write in English. She shot to fame with the novel ‘The Collector's Wife’ (2005). Based on the Assam agitation which took place in the 1970s and 1980s, the novel brought her much critical acclaim. Another novel, ‘A Monsoon of Music’- based on 4 musicians also received rave reviews. She has also written a number of books for children so far. Based in Guwahati, Phukan writes for The Assam Tribune. The UNICEF-CBT award for children's writing was given to her for the book ‘Mamoni's Adventure’. Apart from her literary genius, Phukan is also a noted vocalist and music critic. She is skilled in Hindustani classical music genre.
An acclaimed journalist and writer based in Assam- Nirupama Borgohain is a prominent figure in Assamese literary circle. Before embarking on her career as a writer and novelist, she worked as a lecturer teaching English in various colleges and served as editor of some dailies. She wrote short stories under the pseudonym Neelima Devi. She married journalist and writer Homen Borgohain and they separated in 1977.
Nirupama Borgohain gained attention with publication of her novels like ‘Sei Nadi Niravadhi’ and ‘Ejan Budha Manuh’. The feminist novels like ‘Anya Jivan’ and ‘Champavati’ are remarkable for their compassionate portrayal of women facing ire of patriarchy. The publication of ‘Abhiyatri’(1995)-a biographical novel depicting life of Chandraprava Saikiani-a feminist freedom fighter from Assam brought her much acclaim. It fetched her coveted Sahitya Akademi literary award in 1996. She decided to return the award in 2015 citing the rising intolerance in the country. She was also honored with Assam Valley Literary Award in 2004.
A noted literary figure and journalist based in Assam, Homen Borgohain is deemed as a prominent writer from the state. His career in journalism and his publication of novels, poems and short stories has brought him considerable acclaim.
Despite his rural roots, Borgohain’s work reflects a commendable insight into complexities in urban life. He tied the knot with Nirupama Tamuli (known as Nirupama Borgohain) in 1958 but the conjugal life lasted for 19 years. In 1978, he received the Sahitya Akademi Award for a novel, ‘Pita Putra’. Publication of his autobiography ‘Atmanuxandhan’ also brought him considerable critical acclaim. In 2015, he chose to return the award owing to growing instances of intolerance in India.
Arnab Jan Deka
A writer with multifaceted talent and a prominent figure in Assam’s literary circle, Arnab Jan Deka has received considerable fame among his contemporaries. Apart from writing novels, he has also excelled in the roles of actor, columnist, poet, short story writer, screenwriter and documentary film director. He has already composed 130 nonfiction and fiction books.
He rose to fame with publication of ‘A Stanza of Sunlight on the Banks of Brahmaputra’ in 2009. This Indo-British poetry book co-authored by novelist Tess Joyce brought him success and worldwide fame. However, he made headlines with publication of ‘Ephanki Rhode’ his first book in 1983- when he was still a school student.
Arnab also achieved success with publication of his short stories which have been translated into various languages. The popular short story collections written by him are ‘Prem Asambhav’ and ‘Mexico Shohore Ekjon Premika Abong Koyekta Golpo’. His novels ‘Bhaba Ananda Sambad’ and ‘Childhood Dreams’ brought him considerable success and awards. The latter was made into a TV-series in 2011. For his enormous contribution to literature and culture of Assam, Arnab Jan Deka has been given many awards including the Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray Memorial Award.