Eminent Bengali writer Sanjib Chattopadhyay has lamented that Bengali and regional writers are not getting the respect they deserve in their own country in comparison to the adulation faced by foreign writers.
Chattopadhyay was speaking at a discussion, "Trends Forecasting in Bengali literature : What is the Future of Bengali writing and where is the reader?" yesterday evening.
"If a few thousands of our books are sold we are happy. But that is nothing if you compare with foreign publications including English and the writers here are asked by their families why they did not opt for some other professions," the Ananda Purashkar recipient said.
The 81-year old writer, however, did not blame local publishers who he said were doing their best to promote rich Bengali literature with their limited resources.
In the absence of institutional support from the central government, Bengali literature would continue to face neglect, said the author of 'Lota Kambal' and 'Shakha Prashakha'.
Echoing Chattopadhyay, popular Bengali poet-lyricist Srijato said, "Regional publications here cannot compete with English or foreign publications. You can see English paperbacks at all airports, but how many regional publications you come across at airport bookshops?"
Srijato, writer of books of poems such as 'Andhakar Lekhaguchcha' and 'Chhai Ronger Gram' said, "For regional languages the attitude seems to be like we will have contact with you but not accord you the due respect."
"The situation seems to be the same for regional language literature in India and Indian literature in the world," he said.
Both Srijato and Chattopadhyay, however, said the Bengali reader, a large section of them being young, have not turned their back to works in their own language and this is proved by the large following of young readers for their favourite writers in both poems and fiction genres.
But that was not enough for a regional literature to sustain in the face of global challenges, they said at the discussion held on the last day of the three-day Kolkata Literature Festival.
The moderator of the discussion, general secretary of International Kolkata Book Fair organisers, Publishers & Booksellers Guild, Tridib Chatterjee said, "What these writers say about neglect of regional literature at national level is true. The situation needs to be changed.
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