The Princess and the Political Agent
Shortlisted | Book Awards 2021 | Translated into English
The Princess and the Political Agent (Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi)
The Manipuri writer Binodini’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning historical novel The Princess and the Political Agent tells the love story of her aunt Princess Sanatombi and Lt. Col. Henry P. Maxwell, the British representative in the subjugated Tibeto-Burman kingdom of Manipur. A poignant story of love and fealty, treachery and valour, it is set in the midst of the imperialist intrigues of the British Raj, the glory of kings, warring princes, clever queens and loyal retainers. Reviving front-page global headlines of the day, Binodini’s perspective is from the vanquished by love and war, and the humbling of a proud kingdom. Its sorrows and empathy sparkle with wit and beauty, as it deftly dissects the build-up and aftermath of the perfidy of the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891. Binodini is the supreme stylist of contemporary Manipuri literature and an icon of Manipuri modernism, and her tale of a forbidden love and ostracism vividly brings to life the court and manners of a little-known Asian kingdom. In doing so, she recovers its little-known history, its untold relations with India and Great Britain, and a forgotten chapter of the British Raj.
M.K. Binodini Devi was a Manipuri writer who wrote under the single name Binodini. She was born as a princess into a palace life. She bridged the two worlds of ancient royalty and modern life, transcending the constraints of royalty to live to the full life of an enlightened commoner and emerged as the iconic pioneer in the evolution of Manipuri modernism. Binodini brought a deep humanism and a sense of beauty and aesthetics to all her work. She made her name in the wider world as a novelist and a writer of short stories, essays, plays and screenplays of award-winning films, lyrics, poems and ballet scripts. But her work spread beyond literature and film, theatre, and dance to sculpture, environmentalism, women's issues, youth, social activism and electoral politics. Her work garnered accolades beyond Manipur on the national stage and in the international arena.
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