A busy Bangla month!

My goodness the last few weeks have been crazy!

After the successful launch of my book ‘The Old Man on the Beach’, soaring to #1 on Amazon for Kindle books and to #31 for paperback books a few days later, I’ve been very busy speaking at a number of events (not all of them planned as you’ll see).

Firstly I was invited by the Bangladeshi community of Oldham to give a short speech at their ‘I Love Bangladesh’ evening event. The evening was celebrating the courage and tenacity of the first Bangladeshis who came over to the UK decades ago, at a time where their reception was frosty and often they had very little English language abilities, to do the jobs we didn’t have enough people to do. About 40 awards were given out to ‘the elder’ and a beautiful presentation of their memorabilia, photos and poems was put on display.

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With so many speeches (including from the local mayor) mine was very short but I was still able to give homage to these amazing people who grew a wonderful community out of nothing and have enriched British culture in doing so.

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Soon after, I shot down to London with some of the family in tow. Dropping them with friends in Gloucester, I went on to meet up with friends, clients and fans (including two absolute little cuties who must officially be my youngest and most favourite fans! You can see them here reading both my books!) before then heading to the NTV studios to record a show with Abul Hasnath.

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After recovering from that, I was delighted to take a trip to Rochdale yesterday for my first ever celebration of the Bangla New Year – Pohela Boishakh – in the UK. Long-term readers will recall I’ve posted many a time about the Pohela Boishakh celebrations I loved so much at LAMB, my NGO in Bangladesh. If you want to know a little more about the origins of this celebrations (or just look at the pictures!) click HERE for my last Boishakh in Bangladesh.

I had intended to simply be an observer at the event in Rochdale but it would seem that I am now a recognisable personality (at least in some parts of the north!) and before I knew it, I was cajoled into giving a short speech about my experiences of life in Bangladesh. I think really I was just there to make the mayor look good when he gave his speech after me! Yes folks, it seems I’m available to be a warm-up act for mayors!

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After all this excitement, I now get to look forward to seeing the show I recorded in London aired tonight (Saturday 15th April 2017 – if you’re reading this waaaaay in my future!) on NTV – channel 838 if you’re interested and live in the UK or Europe. It’s on at midnight so I’m recording it (most Bangladeshis are still awake at this time of night so it’s a good time to air!) but I shall be watching it tomorrow morning to see if I flumped or trumped! If I don’t look a complete dork and sound worse I’ll post up the link to Youtube where I believe the recording will end up so that those of you outside the UK can watch it too should you wish. If I do sound dreadful though, I’m going to let it disappear without a murmur…

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With thanks to Mina Ahmed, Elysian Photography, Murad Photography, the team at ILB, Abul Hasnath and NTV studios for the use of their photos.

Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at dkpowell.contact@gmail.com

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The Council of Dogs

The barn was crowded that evening. All the dogs bar the young and infirm had responded to the call for the council meeting. It was a momentous occasion and they all knew it. Just one thing on the agenda and it had been a long time coming.

The Chief Hound, in his role as Chairdog, lumbered up to the central barking spot and began his address:

“You all know why we are here tonight. There has been enough speculation and gossip going on through the alleyways and over kitchen howls. Now it is time to make decisions and sort out, once and for all, the growing problem of the cats.”

Instantly there was loud murmurings from the pack; yaps and barks intermingling with threatening growls. The Chief Hound continued:

“We are all aware that the number of cats in the area have rapidly increased over the last few years and so have the levels of violent incidents. We cannot tolerate this takeover as a society any longer.”

“Hear, hear, Mr Chairdog!” said one of the elder dogs, a venerable and respected former alpha male. “I have always maintained that the cats are just not the kind of creatures we want in our towns, villages and farms in this area. It is time they were removed or, if they won’t go peaceably…” he waited a second for effect, “…destroyed.”

This remark brought a cacophony of barks from all around the barn, so much so that the Chief Hound had to bring the pack to order and indicate speakers one by one. Many points were raised:

  • Cats were increasing to such an extent that dogs couldn’t even go for a walk in peace any longer without having their peaceful daily business ruined by the over-excitement of seeing a cat.
  • The number of injuries to noses had multiplied beyond all proportions as more cats were standing up to the rights of dogs to attack them and using ‘vicious and barbarian’ claws to savage snouts.
  • Cats had disgusting customs such as bringing home dead mice and birds.
  • Cats gave nothing of value to society. Dogs had a long and proud tradition of being there for their masters when they got home and making them feel loved and needed. By contrast, Cats made use of their masters and dismissed them with a snobbery and disrespect to both humans and the clear natural order of things.
  • Dogs were victims of prejudice by suffering the ignominy of having their faeces picked up by masters on walks and having to wear leads, whereas cats could come and go as they pleased and never had to clear up after themselves.
  • Worst of all, there were increasing thefts of hens, ducks and other small farm animals causing great distress to farmers and the dogs who worked under them. It was the increase of these incidents that had turned age-old murmurings of discontent into barks of outrage.

The lone voice against these complaints came from one elderly dog who, it must be said, was generally considered a wise old soul and one that many of the young canines came to for advice. For this reason alone he was given the floor to speak. This Wise Old Dog said:

“Gentle hounds and lady bitches, I can understand much of what you complain but I have been around a long time and experienced many things with my nose and ears.

Cats have been our neighbours for many centuries and have never caused us problems in the past. Yes, they may be different to us but many of us here today live with a cat or two in our own homes and have never had conflict with them. For generations we have lived in peace – why would the cats have changed so much all of a sudden? Think about it! It doesn’t make sense.

Both species do things differently. Cats prowl at night; dogs sleep. Cats roam but keep themselves clean; dogs stay mostly on leads and always under command but get themselves dirty and need to be bathed. Cats show affection differently to us but if the humans did not find them pleasing then they would not keep them. Not every human likes an animal to cling to their heel, put muddy paws on their laps and pant drool all over their hands.

It has always been the time-honoured tradition that dogs will chase cats and cats, if they can’t skip up a tree in time, will use their claws for defence. If our own youth are simply more lazy and far too well-pampered to avoid a good swipe on the snout then more fool them! This is nothing new. Merely the new generation not knowing how easy they have it these days.

Chickens and ducks have indeed been stolen but we’re ignoring the fact that foxes have always done this and always will. Some of the increase is indeed down to cats, but not the domestic ones we’ve lived with for so long.

In fact, the real issue is that stray wild cats have moved into our area in recent years. Not only do they attack our farms but they have often wounded or even killed our own cats. They are bigger, more aggressive and do not live by the time-honoured rules of society. These are our true enemy and one that all of us – man, dog and cat together – should face in unity to drive them out. Brothers! I implore you – do not seek an easy way out to blame innocent creatures just as beloved by humans as ourselves when the true perpetrators won’t be touched at all.”

The words of the Wise Old Dog quieted the pack for a moment as they considered his words but it wasn’t long before the louder, larger and stronger dogs managed to rouse them all back into a murderous frenzy.

They argued that a cat is a cat is a cat. Wild or not, cats were all the same and they would never change. Cats may have lived peacefully enough in the past but they had no place in today’s modern society. They simply weren’t fit, as a species, to serve their masters properly. The very few who lived in homes peacefully side by side with dogs were exceptions to the rule; not the norm. It was not in the nature of a cat to be good.

They downplayed the role of foxes in the thefts of livestock and instead emphasised the gruesome nature of their deaths. When a fox stole and ate a hen it would bite its neck and kill it quickly. But a cat loves to play with its food. There was evidence of hens torn apart piece by piece before they died. This was barbaric and the acts degraded animal kind. And don’t all cats play with their food this way? Sure evidence that no cat was fit to live a moment longer and must be driven from their homes or killed swiftly and with mercy as is the right and proper canine way to do things.

And so a vote was taken and the decision made: the cats must go. War was declared and those dogs who had lived in peace with cats, even knowing some as friends, left the barn with murder in their hearts and revenge on their minds. They were doing this to restore the honour of their masters and would surely be rewarded in time. It was the right thing to do. Only the Wise Old Dog remained and sat, forlornly, by himself shaking his head. He was too old to follow the pack and had no desire to join them.

From the top of the barn watched a large wild cat. He peered from the roof through a crack in the slats and had listened to every word of the council. He grinned to himself and when the dogs left he sat there preening himself with pride and pleasure. It was all going so well. The plan was working perfectly.

 

Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at dkpowell.contact@gmail.com

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‘Old Man on the Beach’ now in paperback!

I’m pleased to announce that my bestselling collection of short stories is now available as a real, physical, hold-in-your-hands paperback book.

A few days after the kindle version shot to number one in the Amazon rankings for one category and to number four in the other two, the 244-page paperback was released and began selling immediately.

If you buy a copy –  thank you! – and please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Even if you didn’t like it, your review will still help. Thanks 🙂

What they’re saying about ‘The Old Man on the Beach’

“Every story itself is a journey that ultimately takes us to look within and around us; right into the core of humanity…”

“Absolutely beautiful storytelling in a variety of genres and styles…”

“This collection of stories made me laugh, made me cry and made me think about aspects of my own past in different ways…”

“His descriptions of characters touch the heart and the nerve…”

 

Get your copy from Amazon.co.uk here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0995712123 

The book is also available at the US, French, German and other Amazon sites.

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‘Old Man’ goes ‘Bestseller’!

“This collection of stories made me laugh, made me cry and made me think about aspects of my own past in different ways.”

Yesterday ‘Old Man on the Beach and other stories’ went live on Amazon Kindle and, in the UK rankings at least, immediately shot into the Top 100 for its three categories thanks to the pre-orders. Within hours all three categories were in the Top 40 and then, soon after lunchtime in the UK they all entered (and have remained) in the Top 10 with Biographical literary fiction reaching the coveted Number One slot.

To say I’m pleased is an understatement!

Just as nice was to receive photos and messages from people all over the world who have bought the book and are reading it right now. Some finished the book within hours and immediately went on to Amazon and Goodreads to review it and I’m pleased to say that so far the verdicts have been a big thumbs up for my ‘Old Man’.

If you bought my book, may I say thank you so much for making it a very surprising success. I am very grateful to you all.

If you haven’t bought the book yet you might just be lucky and still get it at the introductory price before the system kicks in and it goes up – so don’t delay and go buy it now! Below are some of the major Amazon links but just google the title or author and you should see the cover of my book come up.

Next week ‘Old Man on the Beach’ will come out in paperback version too (only available from US and UK amazon sites I’m sorry to say) but if you’re intending to a get a ‘real copy’ why not buy the e-book version to read while you wait?!

Buy your copy here:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XCMW9VY

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XCMW9VY

Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06XCMW9VY

Praise for ‘Old Man on the Beach’

Taken from Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

“Poignant and striking writing…”

“Absolutely beautiful storytelling…”

“…the author has written it is like a train journey, passing through cities, villages, countryside, seeing little cameos of life in all its glory and failures.”

“The use of language is vivid and the story lines gripping.”

“…you didn’t want to rush the story for fear of missing the sweetness of the telling…”

“From the very first quote by Beau Taplin on the very first page, I was hooked. I’d intended to read a story at a time but ended up reading the while lot almost in one go!”

“Some stories will make you gasp at the audacity, some will make you weep and laugh…”

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The inspirations behind ‘Old Man on the Beach’

With less than a week to go before my collection of literary short stories, Old Man on the Beach, is released to the general public, I thought I’d tell you a little more about it and the inspirations behind the book.

First, here’s the blurb on the back cover:

Twenty-two short fiction stories and semi-fictional essays which individually stand alone but together takes the reader on an imaginary journey from childhood in 1980s Britain to adulthood as a teacher, to life in Bangladesh and finally to old age (and beyond) in contemporary Britain.

Separate characters, narrators and scenarios present different fictional ideas yet hidden within each is a kernel of truth, deliberately masked, about the author behind them all. Here we meet schoolboys hiding from witches, terrified teachers, dangerous school Heads, magical instruments, mysterious prisons and (extra)ordinary women – yet everything has some basis in reality. The stories explore difficult themes such as childhood innocence, abuse, sex, love, religion and death.

Some stories and essays connect together to form a chronological thread while others contradict each other or imagine alternative lives. All of them are intended to amuse or challenge the reader’s understanding of life and, if they take the time to look closely, to reveal pencil marks hidden behind the paint.

Contains some strong language and adult content.

And here’s the content list:

Childhood

The Bombing Raid

Insignificant woman no. 1 – The Teacher

Ghost

Into the dark woods

Insignificant woman no. 2 – The Cleaner

The Game

Terry Harvey is dead

Adulthood

Insignificant woman no. 3 – The Singing Girl

Fish

Insignificant woman no. 4 – The Woman in the Wheelchair

Daniel in the Den

The Head

Insignificant woman no. 5 – The Student

Away

The Sitar

A Good Match

Babu

Insignificant woman no. 6 – The ayah

Return

Her Bare, Naked Flesh

The Pendulum

The Old Man on the Beach

The Man in the Attic

The Day I Died

So you can see from this that although all the stories are fiction, there’s an element of truth and history behind each of them – in some cases close to the surface and in others buried deeply within. I’m not going to give the game away about what’s true and what’s not but I’ll give you some clues (but shushhhh…don’t tell anyone 😉 ).

The stories mirror my own life. The Childhood stories are based around a Midlands coal mining town like the one I grew up in during the 80’s. The Adult ones mirror my experiences of growing up, leaving home and training as a teacher in Cambridge during the 90’s.

The second half is much more metaphorical and full of symbology but even so, the stories mirror life experiences. Away is based in Bangladesh where I lived or visited from 2006 to the present day. Return is set back in Britain and the characters are older, wiser, more cynical, hurt but also more accepting of life. Much of this describes my feelings since my family and I returned to live in the UK at the beginning of 2014.

Six of the stories, the “Insignificant Woman” series, I call ‘semi-fictional essays’. Part essay, part story, they deal with very real ‘ordinary’ women in my life who had extraordinary effects on who I was and am today. I have altered names, details, events and even the characters themselves are composite and altered which makes the pieces at least ‘semi-fictional’ but anyone who knew these people for real will be able to recognise them through the facade.

Another series is less obvious because I haven’t titled it. ‘The Bombing Raid’, ‘Into the Dark Woods’ and ‘Terry Harvey is dead’ are all based around the same couple of characters and need to be read in order to appreciate what I’ve tried to do. There is so much of me in these stories it actually hurts to read them.

Other stories are inspired by artistic ideas. ‘A Good Match’, for instance, is in homage to my favourite Bengali writer, Rabindranath Tagore, and is a re-imagining of one of his stories. Another, ‘Her Bare, Naked Flesh’, is as a result of my early days of learning the craft of being a writer. I took a superb writing course which taught me the tricks of the trade from which I’ve made my living ever since in a variety of different areas. Possibly the hardest exercise was to write an erotic story. I don’t read erotica as a rule (I still haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey and really need to even though I already know it is trash, simply to understand more about why so many women love that series of books/movies) so this story is my one attempt at going down that line. ‘The Pendulum’ obviously takes from Poe’s ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ although in many ways my story is perhaps the most important and relevant to my life. One day, the inspiration behind that story will be revealed and it will be a whole book in itself.

A lot of the stories are written in the first person (lots of ‘I did this or that’ rather than ‘he did this or that’) but though some of them share my first name (Ken) not all of them do and none of them are truly me. I felt it only fair to fictionalise myself if I was going to do the same to others. Some stories even cover similar ground but ‘re-imagine’ the same scenarios such as the last three stories in the Adulthood section.

My personal favourite story has to be ‘The Day I died’ even though I suspect I’m going to get into lots of trouble about that one – there’s so much room for people to think they can see themselves in it!

The hardest to write? ‘Ghost’. You’ll have to read it to find out why but even now I struggle to read it. Some things are hard to remember.

You can buy ‘The Old Man on the Beach and other stories’ from Amazon. Pre-order the kindle book now and save 20% on the price!

Posted in Bangladesh, Book Review, British, Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments