Shumona Sinha

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shumona Sinha

Shumona Sinha, also spelled Sumana Sinha; (Bengali: সুমনা সিনহা, Calcutta, 27 June 1973), is a naturalised French writer born in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, who lives in France.[1]

In her interviews for the French media, Shumona Sinha claims that her homeland is no longer India, nor even France, but the French language.

Early life[edit]

Shumona Sinha was born in a Hindu middle-class family in Calcutta : her father was a professor of economics; her mother was a high school math teacher. Her family belonged to the caste of warriors Kshatriyas and also to the caste of landowners, the Zamindars.[2]

As as an adolescent, Shumona was an avid reader, surrounded by books bought by her parents or offered by her maternal aunt, Ratna Basu, a scholar and translator of German into sanscrit.[3]

In 1990, she received Bengali's Best Young Poet Award.[4]


In 1995, at the age of 22, Shumona Sinha started learning French at Ramkrishna Mission School of Foreign Languages at Calcutta.[5] She views her decision to study French as her personal post-colonial revolt against English, language of the former colonizers and the second official language of India.[6]

In 1998, she studied political science and economy at the university of Calcutta. In 2001, she got a master's degree in French literature and linguistics from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages at Hyderabad[7]


In 2001, she was recruited by the French embassy in India to become an English-language assistant teacher in a junior high school in Paris[8] There, she gained an M-Phil in French language and literature from the Sorbonne University.

In 2008, she published her first novel Fenêtre sur l'abîme.[9]

In the 2000s, she also translated and published several anthologies of Bengali and French poetry, together with her ex-husband, the writer Lionel Ray.[10][11]

In 2011, her second novel, Assommons les pauvres !, was published at Éditions de l'Olivier, which won her the Prix Valery-Larbaud 2012 and the Prix Populiste in 2011; it was shortlisted for the Prix Renaudot. Assommons les pauvres! is characterized by a harsh, but multilayered poetical literary reckoning with France's asylum system.[12]

The novel has become a part of scholarly programs to discuss the questions of identity, exile, writing as a woman, writing in a foreign language, the relationship between literature and politics, at the Notre Dame University in Chicago, a course conducted by Alison Rice, at the American University in Paris by Anne-Marie Picard and at Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales by Tirthankar Chanda.[13][14] Assommons les pauvres was adapted by several theaters in Germany and in Austria, especially by Thalia Theater in Hambourg[15] and the Freies Werkstatt theater in Cologne.[16]

In her third novel Calcutta, published in January 2014, Shumona Sinha goes down the memory lane of a Bengali family to describe the violent political history of West Bengal. The book was rewarded by the Grand Prix du Roman de la Société des gens de lettres and Prix du Rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises of the Académie française.[17][18][19] The English translation of Calcutta was published by SSP, Delhi, in November 2019.

Her fourth novel Apatride, published in January 2017, is a parallel portrait of two Bengali women, one living in a village near Calcutta, caught up in a peasant insurrection and a romantic misadventure with her cousin, causing her to perish; the other one living in Paris, in a fragmented post-CharlieHebdo society, where racism of all the colors prevails.[20][21]

In Le testament russe, her fifth novel, published in March 2020 by Gallimard (Blanche), she describes the fascination of a young Bengali girl, Tania, for a Russian Jewish editor in 1920 who was the founder editor of Raduga Publishers.[22][23][24]

Shumona Sinha' books have been translated into German, Italian, Hungarian and Arab.


  • Fenêtre sur l'abîme; 2008, Éditions de La Différence
  • Assommons les pauvres !; 2011, Éditions de l'Olivier
  • Calcutta, 2014; Éditions de l'Olivier
  • Apatride, 2017; Éditions de l'Olivier
  • Le Testament russe, 2020; Gallimard (Blanche)

Award and distinctions[edit]


  1. ^ "Shumona Sinha et la trahison de soi" (in French). Le Monde. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  2. ^ Jean-Claude Perrier, Une Indienne à Paris,, 22 november 22.
  3. ^ French is my language of liberty: Shumona Sinha, IndiaTV, February 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Marc Weitzmann, Shumona Sinha et la trahison de soi, Le Monde], September 15, 2011.
  5. ^ AFP, Entre Calcutta et Paris, les identités multiples de Shumona Sinha, Le Point (Culture), 30-06-2017.
  6. ^ Claire Darfeuille, "Je déteste la littérature anglaise, sauf Sterne qui est presque français",, April 14, 2014 (section « La révolte post-coloniale de Shumona Sinha »).
  7. ^ Profil et diplômes de Sumona, Superprof website.
  8. ^ Shumona Sinha : "J'écris comme je crache", Le Monde, 15 septembre 2011
  9. ^ Alison Rice, Shumona Sinha, site Francophone Metronomes, 2014.
  10. ^ Biography. Accessed 30 July 2016
  11. ^ Le prix Larbaud remis à Shumona Sinha, L'Express, 12 juin 2012.
  12. ^ Shumona Sinha im Gespräch «Im Text gibt es keine Kompromisse». Accessed 30 July 2016 (German)
  13. ^ "Shumona Sinha / Maison des écrivains et de la littérature". Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Assumons Les Pauvre" (PDF).
  15. ^ Erschlagt die Ar men!, Thalia Theater, Hambourg, septembre 2016.
  16. ^ Erschlagt die Armen!, Freies Werkstatt Theater, Cologne, novembre 2016.
  17. ^ "Le prix Larbaud remis à Shumona Sinha" (in French). L'EXPRESS. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  18. ^ Banerjee, Sudeshna (3 January 2015). "French honour for city girl". The Telegraph. India. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Writer Shumona Sinha's Grand Success Contributing to French Literature" (in Bengali). Youtuble. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  20. ^ [1],La Grande Librairie, 2017.
  21. ^ Flavie Gauthier, Le cri d'émancipation de la femme indienne,, 11 janvier 2017.
  22. ^ Claire Devarrieux, « La Bengalie » de la Neva : Une échappée russe par Shumona Sinha,, 24 avril 2020.
  23. ^ Nicolas Julliard, "Le testament russe" réveille les fantômes d'une Inde à l'âme slave,, 23 avril 2020.
  24. ^ [2],La Grande Librairie, 2020.

External links[edit]