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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mahmud Rahman reads experts from his work

<ft-spoken but articulate, petite but forceful, Mahmud Rahman stood in the Anthenaeum last Thursday, Oct. 14 as he read to an audience of about twenty people. He gave a reading of four separate excerpts from his collection of short fiction, entitled “Killing the Water”, which was published last January. A different narrator told each story and each setting was an exotic place that removed the audience from the present and brought them into the story. The first three stories were set in Bangladesh and the final story took place in the United States.

Such stories, though fiction, paralleled Mahmud Rahman’s life. Rahman was born in Dhaka, which was at the time in East Pakistan but is now the capital of Bangladesh. In his later life, he immigrated to the United States, where he began working on translating books. Rahman began his writing career at the age of twelve, when he used a typewriter to create a mere six copies of a newspaper that he gave out to classmates at his school in Dhaka. Despite his talent, Rahman’s youth consisted of much violence and political turmoil; during the 1971 war, he was a refugee in Calcutta. After he immigrated to the United States, he moved around quite often and, according to his website, worked as a “factory worker, data entry operator, community organizer and database support techie.”

When asked why he originally began his writing career as a translator, Rahman paused to think. Though he enjoys writing, he finds it important to preserve the culture and context of an author’s work as it gets translated into a different language. He was especially adamant about his interest in works being translated correctly, claiming that many translators don’t speak the translated language as fluently and lucidly as they could, and thus a lot of an author’s original meaning gets lost. He finds it interesting to be able to find a common ground between such different languages while still preserving the respective cultures. Harper Collins will soon publish Rahman’s most recent translation of Bangladeshi-Bengali writer Mahmudul Haque’s work. Rahman is almost finished with his own novel.

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