Shawkat Osman’s literary oeuvre needs to be re-examined to lend salience to his anti communal attitude towards life and art. It is high time that we begin to critically re-assess the trajectory he left behind to look at the society through his eyes. Minister of State for Science and Technology Yafes Osman pointed out in the commemorative gathering at BNM, on October 7th, 2017, at Poet Sufia Kamal auditorium.
he minister was speaking as chief guest at the programme organized under the rubric Writer Shawkat Osman: Life and Work. The event saw Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of BNM artist Hashem Khan presiding over the proceedings. Writer Andalib Rashdi presented the keynote paper and Director General of Bangla Academy folklorist and writer Shamsuzzaman Khan was present as discussant.
Shamsuzzaman Khan said Shawkat Osman’s works paved the way for Modernism in Bangla literature. If he were alive today, the writer would have played a crucial role in galvanizing the new generation into a greater understanding of the ‘purer’ cultural practices.
Hashem Khan recalled the writer’s courageous role in voicing the dissent during the tumultuous times of mass upheaval in 1969. Through his satiric limericks he unsettled the authority against which Bengalis was forced to fight a nine-month long war.
In his inauguration speech, Director General of BNM Faizul Latif Chowdhury pointed out Shawkat Osman’s many-faceted role in the society. He said the novelist and story writer should be viewed in his entirety. The protagonists of his novels represent the voice of reason and resistance, which brings to light his aesthetic, philosophical and creative facets and his commitment to his society.
Following the discussion programme, an exhibition of objects and articles used by the writer was also launched. The exhibits included his photographs, letters, the first editions of some of his books, robes and clothes as well as documents from his medical treatments at the end of his life. The exhibition lasted till October 9th, 2017.