A stalwart among Bengali writers, Ashapurna Debi (1909-95) was one of those rare authors able to render the voice of an entire culture, to capture its nuances and most abiding traditions with startling precision and formidable insight.
Each of the twenty-one stories in?Matchbox, carefully selected from Ashapurna Debi's extensive body of work and brilliantly translated from Bengali to retain the original flavour of the language and Debi's style, highlights the tensions inherent in a society of close-knit and interdependent families.
In 'Poddolota's Dream', a young girl returns to the scene of a harrowing childhood, magnanimous and victorious for reasons quite her own; in Grieving for Oneself', a midnight scare shows an ailing man precisely how he fits into the world he has worked his life to build; in 'Glass Beads Diamonds', a woman attends a wedding reception at her estranged in-laws', bearing a gift that has cost her far too much. In other stories, a family rues an unexpected disappearance of one of their own, two friends come to terms with a lost friendship, and a couple's relationship is interrupted the sudden appearance of an old flame.
Written with singular insight, often shocking and always compelling, the stories in Matchbox reveal in brilliant sparks the universal verities embedded within narrow domestic walls and present a literary genius at work.