Uneven Octagon
 
     
  About the book

The eight stories included in uneven octagon cover three continents: North America, Europe, and Asia. Expecting one, they all deal with expatriates from South Asia interacting with each other and with white and black British and Americans in varied settings and situations. The exception, ‘Angst and Ennui’, is a fictionalized account of a young man’s travails in the suffocating atmosphere of occupied Dhaka in 1971 and attempts to capture, in a microcosm, the backdrop to Bangladesh’s liberation struggle. The other stories deal with human failings and triumphs in a variety of settings. ‘The Student and the Bird lady’, about an old woman, is set in Boston, USA. ‘Sajeda’ about an expatriate Bangladeshi professor caught in a trap of forbidden love, is also set in Boston, US, as is ‘Third World Exposition’ about black children from a ghetto area of Boston. ‘Fitzrovia’ ;Three Women’ and a Bond’ ‘Notting Hill Nocturnal’ and ‘Delusionals’ are set in various locales in London- an off-beat restaurant and a nude bar among them- where drama students, South-Asian expatriates, con artists and illegal immigrants play out their lives. Shahidul Alam’s short stories provide an illuminating, if at times a pessimistic and disturbing, picture of the contemporary South- Asian diaspora.

Shahidul Alam has had a varied career. He has taught at the University of Dhaka and Boston University (USA). He has been a diplomat. He is a writer of fiction, an actor, and a screen writer. He has acted on stage and in television dramas in the USA, Great Britain, and Bangladesh. He has also directed television dramas including ‘Kuhelika Chhariya’ (Alpha Bangla TV, India, 2001-2004), ‘Moho’ (Ntv, 2004), and Chhobi (BTV, 2005). One of his short stories is included in the anthology ‘From the Delta: English Fiction from Bangladesh’ (UPL), and a collection of essays, entitled ‘Moving Horizon’, selected from his writings in different newspapers and magazines, is forthcoming. A novel, ‘Green Fire’, also awaits publication. Shahidul Alam continues to write, and when time permits, direct and act in, television dramas. He contributes a column to ‘The New Nation’.