“The other name of happiness was French”, by Shumona Sinha: : literary soap of Tiphaine Samoyault

The word “novel” does not appear on the cover of Shumona Sinha’s sixth book. If he begins as a fairly conventional autobiography -dad, mom, language and me -he quickly becomes a third form, halfway between story and essay, where narration and reflection, description and manifest. Shumona Sinha recounts her arrival in Paris twenty years ago, when she chose to live in French, then write in this language which she first learned in India, Calcutta and Hyderabad. But India remains in her and her books, her native country is not an elsewhere. Because if, at one point, the trajectory which leads it from one place to another is flu, it is that everywhere the extremism extends, the identities fall back on themselves and make the earth inhospitable: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, France by Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen show that we are today in a world in danger. And this danger is more imminent than when, in the past, the student in foreign languages ​​could write, in Bengali and in the present, “the other name of happiness is French”.

At the time, Shumona Sinha read Michaux in Bengali, in the translation of Lokenath Bhattacharya (1927-2001), “who was Bengali but not quite”, whose poems she also loved. It is quite natural that, on her arrival in Paris, she meets the world of poetry and that she prepares anthologies of poets translated into Bengali. She married one of them, Lionel Ray; It is a very soft time that she evokes with sweet words, too. French poems seemed to have been written directly in Bengali: “I cannot explain the reason for this fusional conversion. The poems, like the dolphins that spring up water, make pirouettes in the air and throw themselves again into The basin. “

One day, magic no longer operates. Shumona Sinha stifles when she speaks her mother tongue, she no longer wants to translate, she begins to write. In French. By finding autonomy and freedom in this chosen Francophonie, it also experiences the world harder. Her violence scandalizes and terrifies her. She was a sweet translator, but she cannot be a sweet novelist. When, in 2011, she met with Surveillance with Assommons the poor! (L’Olivier), her second novel, she surprises with her ruthless vision, who spares neither the oppressed characters she stages nor herself. Books must be “like the returned skin of wild beasts”. She returns here to the writing of this novel written when she was a translator at OFPRA to the Bangladais asylum seekers, on their distress and their lies, their misery and their dependence. “I thought that, if they could not be true in real life, fiction would give them the right.”

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/Media reports cited above.