Rifles Bread Women
Anwar Pasha
Bangla Academy

Rifles Bread Women is a remarkable novel written in the background of the Bangladesh war of liberation of 1971. It does not speak of the heroic battles fought on various fronts, yet it faithfully captures the essential spirit of the liberation war and unerringly shows the causes and circumstances that made it inevitable. Sudipta Shaheen, the hero of the novel, poet and professor of English, found the indiscriminate mass killing of Dhaka's innocent civilian population by the Pakistani army on the night of March 25, 1971 too shocking for words. During the next three days he mentally travelled through decades and over many kilometers reminiscing, analysing, planning, hoping, resolving.... Basically Rifles Bread Women is a story of those three days, but it is much more. It is at once a historical document and a moving literary creation. The novel's hero is symbolic of Bangladesh. He nurses in his breast the hopes, dreams, beliefs and determination of the Bengalee who is not overcome by repression and misfortune and refuses to accept defeat.
Kabir Chowdhury's excellent English translation commendably preserves the grace and verve of the original Bengali work and makes it possible for many non-Bengalees to know A Fine novel of Bangladesh.