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Humayun Ahmed (Bangla: হুমায়ূন আহমেদ) (born 1948) is arguably the most popular Bengali writer of fiction and drama, and had a "meteoric rise in Bangla literature" since the publication of his first novel, Nondito Noroke. A prolific writer, he has been publishing since the early 1970s. Formerly a professor of Department of Chemistry at the University of Dhakamarker, Bangladeshmarker, he is now a full-time author and movie-maker.


Immediately following the publication of his debut novel, Ahmed emerged as the most prominent novelist and story-writer of Bengali literature since Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Humayun Ahmed's books have been bestsellers. He has also achieved success as a screenwriter for television since the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, he entered the movie-world and proved to be a successful filmmaker in spite of clear departure from the trend of traditional Bangladeshimarker movies.

Humayun Ahmed often shows a fascination for creating stories around supernatural events; his style is characterized as magic realism. He is considered the father of modern Bengali science fiction, having published a great number of science fiction books. It is through him that the colloquial language of rural Mymensingh found a permanent seat in Bengali literature.

Family and background

Humayun Ahmed was born to Foyzur Rahman (a writer) and Ayesha Foyez on 13 November 1948 in Kutubpur of Mymensinghmarker district in then East Pakistan, now Bangladeshmarker. Humayun Ahmed's younger brother Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, a university professor, is a newspaper columnist and writer of children's books and science fiction . Another brother, Ahsan Habib, is the editor of the only cartoon magazine of Bangladesh. Unmad.

Humayun Ahmed married Gultekin, granddaughter of Principal Ibrahim Khan, in 1973. They had five children, but were divorced in 2005, after which Ahmed married Meher Afroz Shaon, a young actress (and friend of his daughter) whom he had met when she was only 12 years old. These and other similar relations brought him much infamy.

Education and teaching career

Humayun Ahmed attended the Chittagong Collegiate Schoolmarker and Bogra Zilla School for his secondary education, then Dhaka College. After graduating from the University of Dhakamarker, Ahmed joined the department of chemistry in the same university as a lecturer. He obtained his PhD in polymer chemistry from North Dakota State Universitymarker under the guidance of Professor Joseph Edward Glass. Ahmed retired from the University of Dhakamarkerfor the sake of writing and film-making. He is an honorary fellow in writing at the University of Iowamarker.


Humayun Ahmed had a meteoric rise in Bangla literature. His first novel, Nondito Noroke (tr: In blissful Hell by Mohammad Nurul Huda), written while he was still a student of the University of Dhakamarker, gained immediate popularity and critical acclaim. Equally successful was his second novel, Shankhanil Karagar (tr: "The Conch-blue Prison"), later made into a successful film by Nasiruddin Yusuf. Humayun Ahmed went on to become one of the most prolific writers in Bengali literature, having published around one hundred and fifty novels to date.

Along with his more traditional novels and short stories, Ahmed is often credited with creating or maturing many literary genres in Bangladeshmarker. The rise of Bengali science fiction can largely be attributed to Humayun Ahmed and his younger brother Iqbal.

His televised drama Bohubrihi was one of the most successful productions of the national TV of the country called Bangladesh Television. He later developed Bohubrihi into a novel.

Though set in the realities of middle class life, Ahmed's works display a particular penchant for the mysterious and unexplained. He himself and his literature are often referred to as "moon-struck," and references to the full moon in his prose are numerous. In almost every one of Ahmed's novels, there is at least one character who possesses an extraordinary milk of kindness—a characteristic of Ahmed’s writing. Also, he is prone to create funny characters through which he reveals social realities and passes on his message.

Books for Sheba Prokashoni

Humayun Ahmed produced three books which were published by Sheba Prokashoni. A teacher of Dhaka Universitymarker, he was in financial hardship when he heard that Qazi Anwar Hussain pays immediately for works of translation to be published from Sheba. He was given a book titled Man on Fire which he translated in seven days and Qazi Anwar Hussain gave him 300 Taka as soon as he appeared with the manuscript. It was published under the title "Omanush". He translated two more books for Sheba, Samrat and The Exorcist.


Humayun Ahmed is not a professional song writer, but he has written a number songs mainly for the films and plays he has produced. Some of his songs are "Ami aaj bhejabo coukh somudrer joley," "Chadni poshor ratey," and "Amaaar achey jol."

Liberation War-related writings

A recurring theme in Ahmed's literature is the Bangladesh Liberation War, which affected him deeply since during this war his father was killed by the Pakistan Army and he, along with his mother and siblings, had to hide to survive. Inspired by the war are a play called 1971, and several novels such as Aguner Parashmoni ("The Touchstone of Fire"), Shyamal Chhaya ("Green Shadows"), and Jochhna O Jananir Galpo ("The Tale of Moonlight and the Mother").

Other references abound: the comic novel Bahubrihi ends with a character training parrots to say "tui rajakar, "you are a traitor," with the goal of sending these parrots to Bangladeshi collaborators during the war.

Academic writings

Dr. Humayun Ahmed wrote the first book on quantum chemistry in Bangla, during a sabbatical leave of one year taken from the University of Dhaka for this purpose.

Television and film

His first television drama was Ei Shob Din Ratri ("Tale of our daily life"), and was followed by the comedy series Bohubrihi, the historical drama series Ayomoy, and the urban drama series Kothao Keu Nei ("Nobody Anywhere"). The last one featured an idealistic gang leader named Baker Bhai, who is wrongly convicted and executed. Baker Bhai became such a popular character that before the last episode was aired, people across the country brought out processions protesting his death sentence; public prayers and death anniversaries have been observed for this fictional character by Humayun-fans. Nakshatrer Raat ("The night of stars") was a long serialized televised drama that explored many facets of modern human life and relationship.

Humayun Ahmed explored the film industry both as an author and director. He directs films based on his own stories. His first film, "Aguner Parashmoni", based on the Bangladesh Liberation War, received critical acclaim and won the National Film Award in eight categories, including Best Picture and Best Director. The theme of the Liberation War often comes across in his stories, often drawing upon Ahmed's in-depth memories of that war.

Ahmed's film Shyamal Chhaya received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film. It was an entertaining moview with a storyline around the war of liberaiton war of 1971. The movie portrayed a realistic picture of the liberation war without malice and prejudice. Shaymol Chhaya has proved to be a captivating movie. In our polarised world where portraying practising Muslims negatively can bring international accolade very easily, Humayun Ahmed didn't take advantage of the situation. Instead of exploiting that sick anti-Muslim sentiment, he preferred to illustrate a story that is unarguably very close to reality

Literary style

Until recently Bengali fiction has largely been dominated by the works and style of Bengali writers from the West Bengal. Humayun Ahmed has distinguished himself with a unique simple literary diction that quickly became extremely popular. His prose style is lucid and he resorts to dialogues rather than narration by a all-knowing story-teller. As a result his writining is compact and can be easily understood by a large audience. However, he depends heavily on a few stereotypical characters which behave in a predictable way, but are, nevertheless, very popular, because of the romanticism they carry. He has dealt with rural as well as urban life with equal intensity of observation. Frequently, he captures contemporary issues in his writings from a different angle. He is an optimist who is prone to focus on the positive aspects of humanbeings. His portrayal of a hooligan or a prostitute is usually non-judgmental. His human touch to stories hugely appeals to emotional Bengali psychology. Also, it should be noted that, his storylines often blend reality with supernatural episodes. This blend is in some ways similar to magic realism. In the contemporary literary world, perhaps none exists today who writes as spontaneously as Humayun Ahmed


Humayun Ahmed has received considerable criticism from the literary critics of the country. One of the most common one leveled against him is that the quality of his work has deteriorated after he gained popularity and started writing for money at the request of his publishers . His brother Muhammed Zafar Iqbal once said "Humayun Ahmed has a great camera, but he only takes picture of birthday parties", referring to his brilliant prose but allegedly trivial subject matters. The main criticism was that he was repeating the same theme and structure time and again for decades. However, from 2003, he is writing more serious and informative novels.


  • Bangla Academy Award 1981
  • Shishu Academy Award
  • Ekushe Podok 1994
  • National Film Award (Best Story 1993, Best Film 1994, Best Dialogue 1994)
  • Lekhak Shibir Prize (1973)
  • Michael Madhusudan Medal (1987)
  • Bacsas Prize (1988)
  • Humayun Qadir Memorial Prize (1990)
  • Jainul Abedin Gold Medal
  • ShellTec Award (2007)

Filmography (as Director)

Television drama

Books in English translation

  • 1971
  • Gouripur Junction (2008)


External links

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