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. 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.
"... the force of its human commitment and satirical brilliance is a timeless achievement."
Chris Searle, Morning StarShaukat Osman
is the grand old man of Bangladeshi writing. Now in his 70s, he has more than 30 volumes of fiction, poetry and drama behind him. He died in 1997.