|Born||14 August 1925|
Kolkata, Bengal Presidency, British India
|Died||26 November 2011 (aged 86)|
|Resting place||Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard in Mirpur, Dhaka|
|Genre||Fiction, novel, essay|
|Notable awards||full list|
|Relatives||Abu Rushd (brother)|
Rashid Karim (14 August 1925 – 26 November 2011) was a Bangladeshi novelist.
Early life and career
Karim was born in Kolkata, West Bengal in 1925. He completed his BA from the Calcutta Islamia College (now Maulana Azad College), an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta. After the partition of the sub-continent in 1947, his family moved to Dhaka.
Karim began writing during the British period, continued during the Pakistan period but wrote his major novels during the Bangladesh period. It was in independent Bangladesh that his career as a writer reached its zenith. Karim penned his first story at the age of fourteen. So he began quite early. But his first story was published in 1942 in Mohammed Nasiruddin's Saogat. After that he did not write till 1961, when began the second phase of his writing career. His first novel Uttam Purush was published that year. It made him widely known and brought him the prestigious Adamjee Award. Two years later Prashanna Pashan instantly turned him into a major novelist of the Bengali language. Again he went into hibernation, this time for a decade. After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, he published his epic novel, Amar Jato Glani, in 1973. This novel helped his fame reach its peak. Till this period he was known as a gifted writer who wrote less but wrote very well. But from then on he wrote and published regularly. Prem Ekti Lal Golap was published in 1978.
Karim had battled paralysis for nineteen years before his death. He died at Ibrahim Cardiac Centre in Dhaka on 26 November 2011.
- Uttam Purush (The Best Man, 1961)
- Prasanno Pashan (The Happy Stone, 1963)
- Amar Jato Glani (All My Fatigue, 1973)
- Prem Ekti Lal Golap (Love is a Red Rose, 1978)
- Sadharan Loker Kahini (A Tale of an Ordinary Man, 1982)
- Ekaler Rupkatha (A Fairy Tale of This Day, 1980)
- Sonar Pathar Bati (Gold Plated Cup of Stone)
- Mayer Kachhe Jachchi (A Journey to Mother)
- Chini Na (Unrecognized)
- Boroi Nissongo(So Lonely)
- Podotolay Rokto (Blood Underneath the Feet)
- Lunch-box (Lunchbox)
- Prothom Prem (First Love): a single collection of scintillating short stories
- Jibon-moron (Life & Death, 1999)
Critique on his novels
- Uttam Purush
Through the character of Shaker of Uttam Purush, the Muslim mind of the then Kolkata has been exposed. The Pakistan movement, which was nourished wholeheartedly by all Muslim people for their identity, takes an upper hand in the novel. Shaker is the embodiment of all characteristics available in the Muslim society – not even the political and cultural attitude go beyond. He supports the Muslim League and is a great fan of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and eventually relinquishes a sort of detest against Mahatma Gandhi and other Hindu leaders, though he is in the belief that Pakistan would be a country irrespective of Hindus and Muslims. Possibly, for that very reason, the narrator ‘I’ of the novel speaks about himself at the outset: I am not an ideal man…. Not only for lack of power of character but the diversion of my mental attitude. The novel ends with Shaker's migration from Kolkata to Dhaka. In the novel Karim has delineated the subconscious mind of the humans more acutely than the picture of the society and the compactness of the story.
- Prasanno Pashan
The second novel of Karim, Prasanno Pashan received similar appraisal from the readers of Bangladesh. The story of this novel is also set in the city of Kolkata. The protagonist of this novel is Tishna who is the narrator of the novel herself. The whole novel is related in the first person narrative as her personal accounts. Like his first novel, this second one of Karim lacks the perfection to be a true picture of the then society. A very thin thread of the Kolkata's Muslim society may be observed in the novel. Rather the incidents of Tishna's early life are the main focus of the novel. The novelist has tried to portray the like-sketch of Tishna and the influence of the episode of her Chhotofufu (younger aunt) and Chotochacha (younger uncle) on her life. The other characters like Alim and Karim also play importance roles in the plot of the novel. On the eve of her youth Tishna not only sympathised Kamil, rather she loved him: the proof of it is present in the end of the novel. We now understand that Tishna loved Kamil but the social prejudices prevented her to reach her love. Though Tishna is presented as the main character, her exposition comes through narration, rather than action – she rarely participates in them; rather she only watches. As a result, she fails to create any permanent impression on the reader's mind. On the other hand, Chhotofufu, Tishna's distant aunt Mayna, spans less in the novel but touches more deeply. The character of Kamil is also no better creation.
- Amar Jato Glani
The plot of this novel spans from the partition of 1947 to 26 March 1971. The story is narrated, appropriate to say ‘told’, by Erphan Chowdhury. The other characters inserted are Ayesha, Ayesha's husband Samad Saheb, Abid, Kohinur, Akkas, Nabi and others. We observe intermingle of Erphan's personal experience in the socio-political milieu of the novel. In this novel, unlike the earlier two, Karim has been successful in the juxtaposition of psychoanalysis and external society. The successful use of stream of conscious in the frame of socio-political arena is really praiseworthy in Amar Jato Glani.
- Prem Ekti Lal Golap
The novel for which Karim earned more reputation is Prem Ekti Lal Golap. This is the most successful novel of him, or of the contemporary Bengali novels, for its meticulous psychoanalytic element. The novelist has placed the outer behaviour and the subconscious thoughts juxtapositionally are a well proportionate way. Karim's expression in this regard is more spontaneous in Prem Ekti Lal Golap. Commenting on this novel Zillur Rahman Siddiqui, an eminent poet and critic of the country said: He can visualise the great in the silly, the tiny movement of the soul can take a true picture in his pen and thus Rashid Karim has again proved that he is one of the greatest creative fiction writers of the country.
In general, it is profound that autobiographical elements are present in Karim's novels, since his novels sketch the middle-class people and their socio-political environment, which is his own. If we look into his swan song Jibon Moron we will find the presence of some similar incidents that the novelist himself experienced in his own life. He himself also went through an adolescent love affair with a girl whose name is not even exposed in the swan song. The marriage of the girl imprinted a great shock on his mind and resultantly he gave up any sort of writing. Though the novelist has confessed that if this girl would not appear in his life, he would never be able to be a writer. Once upon a time he had relation with two girls, which is also a common subject in his novels. The shadows of this girl or their marriage are not very faint in Karim's novels also. The shifting of Karim's family to Dhaka from Kolkata is another significant autobiographical element that has taken a large space in his novels.
The novels of Karim have that capacity to give his readers a sort of cathartic feeling – and everyone will agree with the point that before his novels we did not meet such modern individuals in Bengali fiction. He is the pioneer Bengali novelist to expose the modern man – the flexibility and fickleness that every modern human being goes across regarding his love, sex and everything. No other contemporary Bengali novelist could expose the inner soul so tremendously. Publisher and writer Mofidul Haque said: he was very confident about his writing. He wrote what he believed in. He taught us about the ecstasy of obtaining knowledge and passion.
- Adamjee Literary Award (1969)
- Bangla Academy Literary Award (1972)
- Ekushey Padak (1984)
- Lekhika Sangha Award (1991)
- Khokon, Salek. "Rashid Karim: Pioneer of modern bangla novels". Salek Khokon. Salek Khokon. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Haque, Junaidul (3 December 2011). "Rashid Karim: voice of modern fiction". The Daily Star. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Those who passed on…". The Daily Star. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- Das, Subrata Kumar. "Rashid Karim: A Successful Narrator of Middle Class Mind". Subrata Kumar Das. BangladeshiNovels.com. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Litterateur Rashid Karim passes away". The Daily Star. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "Rashid Karim remembered". The Daily Star. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2017.