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The Loneliness of Hira


Author: Ranjita Biswas
(Arupa Patangia Kalita)


Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Award Category: Translated into English


About the Book: 


An extraordinary, ever-relevant collection of stories from one of Assam’s greatest living writers.

Hira Barua, an ageing widow living in a conflict-ridden region of Assam with her beloved Tibetan spaniel fears she is beginning to resemble a lonely Englishwoman from her past. A vicious sexual assault by the invading military drives a group of women into a shelter home. On a fateful night, a group of prostitutes make an extraordinary sacrifice for the safety of their companions.

In these, and thirteen other piercing, intimate portraits, women navigate family, violence, trauma, ambition and domesticity with caution, grace and a quiet resilience.

Originally published as Mariam Austin othoba Hira Barua, this remarkable collection by one of Assam’s finest living writers won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014. In this wonderful English translation by Ranjita Biswas, Arupa Patangia Kalita’s powerful voice is brought to fresh and vivid life. Written in a variety of styles, from gritty social realism, folklore to magical realism, The Loneliness of Hira Barua is a modern classic of Indian literature.

‘Patangia’s fiction, over the last two decades, has repeatedly knocked on the doors of [our] conscience’ ― Open


About the Author: 

Arupa Patangia Kalita is one of the leading, award-winning voices in contemporary Assamese literature. Together she has written more than twenty novels and short-story collections. She won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014 for Mariam Austin othoba Hira Barua, which this book offers in English translation. Arupa is also a recipient of the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award, the Katha Prize, the Prabina Saikia Award, the Assam Valley Literary Award and the Troilokyanath Goswami Memorial Award. The English translation of her novel Felanee (2011) was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award. Her books have been translated into Bengali, English and Hindi. She recently retired from the English department at Tangla College, Assam.

Ranjita Biswas is an award-winning translator of fiction, a short-story writer, journalist and travel writer. Her translations include Written in Tears, an anthology of stories by Arupa Patangia Kalita, which was a recipient of Sahitya Akademi's Best Translation Award in English, and As the River Flows. She has written a travelogue titled Notes from a Spanish Diary.



Excerpt emailed separately to

REC- VoW Book Awards 2024

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