Shahidul Zahir

Shahidul Zahir (Bengali: শহীদুল জহির; 11 September 1953 – 23 March 2008) was a Bangladeshi novelist and short story writer. Jibana o Rajnaitik Bastabata (Life and Political Reality, 1988), Je Rate Purnima Chilo (In the Night of Full Moon, 1995), Mukher Dike Dekhi (Looking to the Face, 2006) are considered to his major contributions to Bengali literature.[1] His novels and short stories are highly acclaimed for their originality of language and narrative technique.[2]

Shahidul Zahir
শহীদুল জহির
Shahidul Zahir
Mohammad Shaheedul Haque

(1953-09-11)11 September 1953
Died23 March 2008(2008-03-23) (aged 54)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Burial placeSahid Buddhijibi Kabarasthan
23°47′39″N 90°20′42″E / 23.79425°N 90.34494°E / 23.79425; 90.34494
Other namesShahidul Haque
EducationMA in Political science
Alma mater
  • Novelist
  • writer
  • civil servant
Years active1985-2008
Known forMagic realism in Bengali literature
StyleMagic realism
AwardsSee below

Life and careerEdit

Mohammad Shaheedul Haque was born on 11 September 1953 at 36 Bhuter Goli (Bhojo Hari Shaha Street) of Narinda in the old part of Dhaka city. His father A.K Nural Haque was a govt. officer and his mother Jahanara Begum a housewife. His paternal home was in the village Hashil of Raigonj Upazilla of Sirajgonj district. His grandfather Jahiruddin (it seems Shaheed took the name Jahir from his grandfather's name) was a teacher of the local Normal School (during the British Period) and his grandmother was Jinnatun Nesa. They both had died long before, when his father was a child. His maternal grandparents were Azimuddin Ahmad and Hamida Begum of Amlapara, Sirajgonj Town, where he used to visit frequently on the occasion of summer holidays or EIDs during his childhood along with his family members. These places together with Fulbaria an Satkania, where he grew up, left a deep impression in his mind and in the later years featured in many of his short stories and novels. Fictionist Shaheedul Jahir started his school at Silverdale KG School at the then 36 Rankin Street, Dhaka. Later he went to schools of Dhaka, Fulbaria, Mymensingh and Satkania Upazila, Chittagong. From Satkania Model High School he passed his SSC Examination. Later he went to the Dhaka College for his pre-university course (HSC). He studied Political Science at the Dhaka University for his bachelor's and master's degrees. He also went to the American University in Washington DC and Birmingham University. He joined the Bangladesh Civil Service in 1981 as an Assistant Secretary. He was serving as Secretary-in-charge of the Ministry for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs till his death in 2008.

Shaheedul Jahir was a confirmed bachelor and was often questioned on this. In an interview with Kamruzzaman Jahangir, the editor of the literary magazine Katha, he told he was unable to explain this phenomenon: 'I can tell nothing about this. This has just happened.'[3] His left behind a family which consisted of 4 brothers and 4 sisters. His father died in 1990 and his mother lives with his younger brothers and sisters at his paternal home at Noyatola, Boro Moghbazar, Dhaka, where he used to reside before moving to govt. quarter after joining the Civil Service. He spoke little and appeared to be introvert. It was difficult to make friends with him although he was known to be a very amiable person.

He died from acute myocardial infarction (massive heart attack) on 23 March 2008 at the LabAid Cardiac Hospital in Dhaka. His premature death brought an end to a literary personality who was fully competent and capable and was posied to enrich Bengali literature with his unique prose-style. His death was mourned by the president and prime minister of the country, in addition to the literary circle. He was buried at the Martyred Intellectuals Graveyard at Mirpur, Dhaka.[4] He left a huge number of literary fans who were impressed by his unique literary approach.

Literary works and styleEdit

Shaheedul Jahir distinguished himself with his surrealist approach to fiction.[5] He wrote both short stories and novels. His started to write in late-1970s. His first published story 'Bhalobasah" (tr. Love) clearly reflected influence of Bengali novelist Syed Waliullah. His first book of short stories, published in 1985, Parapar bore his tendency to portray human character in intricate language in the perspective of a thin story-line. He has been said to be a magic-realist in line with Latin American writers[6][7] and termed Zahir has been termed the new Marquez of Bangladesh.[3] However, he admitted the influence of two contemporary novelist, namely Syed Shamsul Haque and Akhtaruzzaman Elias, in addition to Syed Waliullah.[8] Thematically, the storylines of a number of stories bear the influence of Marxist paradigm. Also, in many novels and stories he has chosen the perspective of 1971, the year of liberation war of Bangladesh. He also translated a few stories from English.

Sometimes he wrote poetry but never published any. Also, he translated Bengali poems into English when he had leisure.[9] Two lines from his flings at poetry is quoted below:[9]

"... Yet we congregate once again
And a bud blooms into a flower through our time
A silvery Rupchanda floats in salty water..."
(Translated by Faizul Latif Chowdhury)


Jahir only published six books during his lifetime. There are some published stories and novels that remain to be published in book form, in addition to some unpublished works. His last published story is titled "The Miracle of Life" which remains to be anthologised. One novel published in a magazine titled Abu Ibrahim-er Mrityu (tr. Death of Abu Ibrahim), which was published in the magazine Nipun earlier, has already been published as a book by Mowla Brothers in February 2009 Ekushey Book Fair.




Two volumes have been published compiling selected short stories and novels of Shaheedul Jahir. These are:[10]

  • Shahidul Zahir Nirbachita Golpo (February 2006, Pathak Samabesh, Dhaka, ISBN 9848243380)
  • Shahidul Zahir Nirbachita Uponyash (February 2007, Pathak Samabesh, Dhaka, ISBN 9848243402)


original story


original story

In popular cultureEdit

Phulkumar is a film which was based on a story by Zahir. Phulkumar, was made in 2000 by Ashique Mostafa, is adapted from his short story "Ei Shomoy". His short story "Choturtha Matra" was the basis of an award-winning video film by Nurul Alam Atique. Nurul Alam Atique also made a television drama named Kothay Pabo Tarey from the story titled also as Kotay Pabo Tarey in 2009."Jonome jonmantor" Theatre production by Desh Natok from his well-known short story "Kathurey o darkak"[11]


list of awards
Organizer Year Category Work Result Ref.
Alaol Literary Award 2004 Nivel Won [12]
Kagoz Literary Award 2004 Fiction Dolu Nadir Hawa O Annanya Galpo (2004) Won [13][14]
Prothom Alo Book of the Year 2009 Book of the Year Abu Ibrahimer Mirtu (2009) Won Posthumous[15]


  1. ^ "Shahidul Jahir – Bridging Gap between Language and Reality by Faizul Latif Chowdhury". Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Remembering Shahidul Zahir". Dhaka Tribune. 15 April 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Amin, Sanam (28 March 2008). "Uniquely surreal". New Age Xtra. Archived from the original on 4 April 2008.
  4. ^ "Writer Shahidul Zahir passes away". Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Aziz, Mahibul (2012). "Novel". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  6. ^ Bengali novels
  7. ^ "Sandbag It – Daily Sandbag". Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "ITTEFAQ.COM". Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ a b "Sandbag It – Daily Sandbag". Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Sandbag It – Daily Sandbag". Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "about crew". Archived from the original on 20 October 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ মিজান, মীম (19 October 2018). "শহীদুল জহির : বাংলা গদ্য সাহিত্যে নব্য ধারার প্রবর্তক". dailysonardesh. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  13. ^ "জেমকন সাহিত্য পুরস্কার ২০১৫". Jugantor. 17 April 2015. Archived from the original on 7 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  14. ^ "জেমকন সাহিত্য পুরস্কার ২০২০ ঘোষণা". 26 December 2020. Archived from the original on 7 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  15. ^ "আজ প্রথম আলো বর্ষসেরা বইয়ের পুরস্কার বিতরণ". Retrieved 11 January 2021.

External linksEdit