Syed Manzoorul Islam is perhaps the only bilingual author in Bangladesh who writes with equal ease and fluency in both Bangla and English. He has six short story collections to his credit including Prem O Prarthonar Golpo and Ondhokar O Alo Dekhar Golpo; and five novels including Tin Porber Jibon and Dinratriguli. He received the prestigious Bangla Academy Award for literature in 1996. Islam’s first collection of short stories in English The Merman’s Prayer and Other Stories was launched at Dhaka Hay Festival 2013.
The stories compiled in this collection constitute a very small part of Syed Manzoorul Islam’s creative writing. Put together, they nonetheless show all the traits unique to his storytelling. His narrator is continuously talking to readers, preparing them for the twists and turns the stories take. When the stories begin, readers are invited to become the narrator’s co-travelers as he promises to take them through a world where the boundaries between dream and reality blur every so often. The stories are told with poise and humour in the great Bengali oral tradition. His characters come from the fringes of society as well as from the urban middle class, and are drawn with compassion, understanding and power. Their desires and deprivations, their ecstasies and frustrations are all presented in a narrative which is magical and lucid at the same time.