Bloomsbury India announced at Red Shift Book Cafe recently, Shazia Omar’s latest publication, Dark Diamond, a fast-paced, historical adventure story, set in 1685 Bengal. Writer and historian William Dalrymple described the book as “A rollicking, rip-roaring, swash-buckling romp in Mughal Bengal.”
Dark Diamond is the story of Lord Shayista Khan, Mughal Viceroy of Bengal, who in 1685 is the most powerful man in the world. Under Lord Khan’s rule Bengal has flourished. It is the cosmopolitan center of culture and commerce, bursting with cotton, silk and magnificent spices. Yet such a veritable treasure chest does not go unnoticed and many unscrupulous eyes are watching Bengal’s rich shores, looking for a chance to plunder its wealth and beauty.
Not only must Lord Khan keep these forces at bay, he must also neutralize the curse of his most beloved possession, the dark the diamond, Kalinoor, evil sister diamond of the famous Kohinoor, the diamond that now adorns the British Crown Jewels. The book is crammed with historical facts woven into a canvas of magic realism and is sure to give the reader a few nights of fun.
At the event, Chair of the English and Humanities Department of BRAC University Professor Firdous Azim and Shazia Omar discussed Shazia’s journey as a writer and a member of the literary community of Dhaka.
When asked by Firdous why she chose to write about Mughal Bengal, Shazia said, “I wanted to write a book that recollects Bengal at its finest and portrays a hero whom we can adore, one who fought for the freedom of thought and expression.”
The evening ended on a high, with an enactment of a scene from her book. “Dark Diamond offers us a brown hero,” said Saad Z. Hossain, adding that school children studying Bangla history should read this book.
Dark Diamond is Shazia’s third book. Like a Diamond in the Sky, Shazia’s debut was set in present day Dhaka city and explored the dark underbelly of the drug scene. She has also written Intentional Smile: A Girl’s Guide to Positive Living which was published by Bloomsbury, co-authored by Merrill Khan and illustrated by Lara Salam.
Shazia’s books may be ordered in Bangladesh from Bookworm.
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