Syed Waliullah

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Syed Waliullah
Syed Waliullah photograph.jpg
Native name সৈয়দ ওয়ালিউল্লাহ
Born (1922-08-15)August 15, 1922
Sholashahar, Chittagong, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died October 10, 1971(1971-10-10) (aged 49)
Meudon, Paris, France[1]
Resting place Meudon, France
Occupation novelist, short story writer, playwright, news editor
Alma mater Ananda Mohan College (1943)
University of Calcutta (dropped out)
Notable works Lalsalu
Notable awards Ekushey Padak
Spouse Anne Marie Thibaud (m. 1955; till his death 1971)
Relatives Syed Ahmadullah (father)

Syed Waliullah (August 15, 1922 – October 10, 1971) was a Bangladeshi novelist, short-story writer and playwright. He was notable for his debut novel, Lalsalu (translated in English with the title "Tree Without Roots"). He was awarded Bangla Academy Literary Award (1961), Adamjee Prize (1965), Ekushey Padak (1984) and Bangladesh National Film for Best Story (2001).

Early life and education[edit]

Waliullah was born on 15 August 1922 at Sholashahar in Chittagong District. His father, Syed Ahmadullah, was a government officer. Waliullah spent his childhood in Mymensingh, Feni, Krishnanagar and Kurigram. His notable novel, Lalsalu, was inspired by a shrine covered with red cloth that he would often pass when he lived in Mymensingh.[2]

Waliullah completed his IA from Dhaka Intermediate College in 1941and bachelor's from Ananda Mohan College in Mymensingh in 1943. He then moved to Calcutta to complete his master's in economics. He joined The Statesman newspaper and worked until 1947.[2]


In 1947, Waliullah moved from Calcutta to Dhaka. He joined Radio Pakistan. In 1950, he was transferred to Karachi. In 1951, he started serving as the press attaché at the Pakistan missions in New Delhi, Sydney, Jakarta and London. In 1960, he was appointed as the First Secretary at the Pakistan embassy in Paris. In 1967, he joined the UNESCO in Paris.[2]


Waliullah is often considered the pioneer of existential analysis of the characters psyche in the literature of Bangladesh. The last two of his three novels, especially 'কাঁদো নদী কাঁদো' (1968), show his mastery in revealing the inner depths of his characters.[3]' চাঁদের অমাবস্যা '(1964) was another famous novel of him.'নয়নচারা' (1946) and 'দুই তীর এবং অন্যান্য গল্প' (1965) is storybooks written by him.


Main article: Lalsalu

Lalsalu tells the story of Majid, a poor man from a devout Muslim background. Majid comes to a remote village. He declares an old grave to be the Majaar that of a Peer, covers it with the traditional red cloth used for mausoleums, and establishes his stronghold on the life of the people using the reflected power on him of the supposed saint. The novel shows his struggle with other religious figures trying to establish dominance, the undercurrent of pagan ideas among the people, and his own weaknesses.[4]

The novel was adapted to a Tanvir Mokammel film with the same title in 2001.[5]

Personal life and death[edit]

With wife Anne Marie in Karachi. Pakistan

Waliullah met Anne Marie Thibaud (1929–1997),[6] a French woman, in Sydney. They were married in 1955 and had two children, Simine and Iraj.[2] He was a cousin of Jamal Nazrul Islam, a physicist and mathematician.[7]

Waliullah died in Meudon in Paris on October 10, 1971. A commemorative plaque is in the cemetery of his wife's family in Vaulnaveys-le-Haut in southeastern France.[8]


  • Lalsalu (Tree without roots), 1948
  • Chander Amaboshay (Dark moon), 1964
  • Kando Nadi Kando (Cry, o river), 1968
  • The Ugly Asian, 1959[9]
  • Bahipir (1960)
  • Tarangabhanga (1964)
  • Sudanga (1964)
Short story collection
  • Nayanchara (1951)
  • Dui Tir O Anyanya Galpa


  1. ^ Alam, Shafiul (2012). "Waliullah, Syed". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ a b c d Zaman, Niaz (13 August 2016). "Syed Waliullah Existentialism, Nostalgia, Nationalism". The Daily Star. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Haq, Kaiser (5 January 2014). "Arts & Letters" (PDF). Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Choudhury, Serajul Islam (2005). "Introduction" Tree Without Roots. Dhaka, Bangladesh: pp. ix. ISBN 984-32-2546-5. 
  5. ^ "Tanvir Mokammel Retrospective at CU". 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2016-07-17. 
  6. ^ "Grave Site of Anne Marie Waliullah (Thibaud)". BillionGraves. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "জামাল নজরুল ইসলাম" (in Bangla). Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Grave Site of Syed Waliullah". BillionGraves. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  9. ^ Alam, Shahid (25 March 2014). "Observations in or about politics". The Daily Star. Retrieved 13 August 2016.