Read about love and war, and the humbling of a small but proud kingdom from the perspective of the vanquished in this editing e-book, The Princess and The Political Agent written by MK Binodini. The novel’s sorrows and empathy sparkle with wit and beauty, as it deftly dissects the build-up and aftermath of the perfidy of the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891.
In 1979, this prolific Manipuri writer won the Sahitya Akademi Award for her groundbreaking feminist novel Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi, a work of historical fiction based on the life of her rebellious aunt, Princess Sanatombi of Manipur and her love story with Henry St. P. Maxwell, the British representative in the subjugated Tibeto-Burman kingdom of Manipur.
Now translated into English by Binodini’s son L. Somi Roy, The Princess and the Political Agent is all set to be out on May 11.
M.K. Binodini Devi was a Manipuri writer who wrote under the single name Binodini. She was born as a princess into palace life. But she bridged the two worlds of ancient royalty and modern life, transcending the constraints of royalty to live to the full the life of an enlightened commoner - and emerged as the iconic pioneer in the evolution of Manipuri modernism
She is the supreme stylist of contemporary Manipuri literature and an icon of Manipuri modernism. Her tale of forbidden love and ostracism vividly brings to life the court and manners of a little-known Asian kingdom. In doing so, she recovers its extraordinary history, its untold relations with India and Great Britain, and a forgotten chapter of the British Raj.
“Translating the novel was a series of unlayerings”, says Roy. “From hearing my mother’s voice and seeing her style again through her words, memories sparked of family lore, the language and linguistics of a Tibeto-Burman civilization, and insight into the machinations of empire versus kingdom. Finally, I was awed that in the pages before me was a work of world literature.”
The book will be e-released by Penguin Random House India on May 11