Daughter of the Agunmukha
Translated by Rebecca Whittington & Edited by Monica Jahan Bose
How does a girl from a tiny Bangladeshi island end up reading Tagore, Marx and de Beauvoir and become a leading feminist campaigner?
This is the riveting personal story of Noorjahan Bose, born in 1938 in present-day Bangladesh to a farming family, near the mouth of the ferocious River Agunmukha—Fire Mouth River. Abused by male relatives and raised by a mother who was herself a child bride, Noorjahan struggled for her education and autonomy. Nurtured joyfully and creatively by her mother, and mentored by local activists, she found her way into the progressive movements that would one day take her around the world.
From the pain of partition to her husband’s death when she was only 18 and pregnant, to the devastating cyclones threatening her family’s home and livelihood, Noorjahan’s life has not been easy. Yet her courage shines through the pages of her memoir, whether she is promoting Bangla language rights, enduring Bangladesh’s liberation war, or marrying outside her family’s faith. This moving, gripping book tells a powerful story of trauma, loss, resilience and empowerment.
Watch author Noorjahan Bose’s book talk and reading at Politics and Prose book store in Washington, D.C.:
‘An absolutely stunning and mesmerising account of life in a Bengal consumed by climate change and extractive greed. With lyrical prose and rich detail, Bose tells the captivating story of her life, revealing the fortitude and strength of the women she knew and the woman she herself has become.’ — Rafia Zakaria, attorney, political philosopher and author of Against White Feminism
‘A riveting and moving read. Noorjahan’s compelling life journey is a story of courage and resilience, and is a true inspiration to feminist activists around the world.’ — Jaspreet Kaur, poet, educator and author of Brown Girl Like Me
‘Knowing Noorjahan Bose through this fiercely honest autobiography is an honour. Her impossible journey is a heroic testament to the unbreakable spirit of the human soul. A gem of a book: inspirational, indomitable and tender.’ — Leesa Gazi, actor, filmmaker and author of Hellfire
‘Bose’s memoir unlocks a hidden nation before its identity was regionally and religiously determined. It’s an incantation of love and violence, family secrets and resilience—by a deltaic daughter at the confluence of “rivers of fire”.’ — Lipika Pelham, journalist, historian and author of Passing: An Alternative History of Identity
‘Uncovering multiple dimensions of the varied landscapes of Bangladesh, England and the United States, Daughter of the Agunmukha tells the personal and political story of a life spanning the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.’ — Yasmin Saikia, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, Arizona State University, and author of Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh
Noorjahan Bose is a feminist writer, social worker and activist, living between the US and Bangladesh, and the founder of two US-based organisations to empower South Asian women: Ashiyanaa (formerly ASHA) and Samhati. Daughter of the Agunmukha won the Bangla Academy Literary Award for Autobiography and the Ananya Literature Award.