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The State Witness

Abandoned by her husband, Saburan leaves her village to work in town. She drifts into the employment of Alamin, a small cog in the business of exporting illegal migrants from Bangladesh to the Gulf States.


Shaukat Osman
Date published
1 Dec 1993

When she is arrested as keeper of a brothel for women in transit, she becomes the State Witness in the trial of her employer. Though the Defence finds surprising grounds within the tenets of Islam for their acquittal, both Saburan and Alamin find that, as small fish, the sharks of the immigration racket are not easy to escape. Told through the narratives of Saburan and Alamin in their prison cells, and the drama of the court sessions, The State Witness is a powerful satire on corruption and religious hypocrisy.

In Osman Jamal's lively translation, English readers have, for the first time, the chance to appreciate a small part of the humanity and richness of Shaukat Osman's work

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Shaukat Osman

Shaukat Osman was born in 1917 in West Bengal, son of a pious Muslim farmer and artisan. He taught in Calcutta until migrating to what was the Eastern wing of Pakistan after partition in 1947. His first major work was published in 1945, and since that time he has published over thirty volumes of fiction, drama, poetry and essays. Until his death in 1997, he was indisputably the most eminent writer in Bangladesh.

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