Humayun Azad bigraphy, stories - Linguists

Humayun Azad : biography

April 28, 1947 - August 11, 2004

Humayun Azad (Bengali: হুমায়ূন আজাদ; 28 April 1947 – 11 August 2004) was a Bangladeshi author and scholar. He wrote more than seventy titles. He was widely known for his anti-establishment, anti-religion and anti-military voice and was reputed for caustic remarks. In 2012, the Government of Bangladesh honored him with Ekushey Padak posthumously.

Literary achievements

The literary career of Humayun Azad started with poetry. However, his poems did not show any notable poetic fervour. On the other hand his literary essays, particularly those based on original research, carried significant value.

He earned a formidable reputation as a newspaper columnist towards the end of 1980s. His articles were merciless attacks on social and political injustice, hypocrisy and corruption. He was uncowed in protesting military rule. His novel Chappanno Hazar Borgomile is a powerful novel written against military dictatorship. His collected his critical remarks in a book styled Humayun Azader Probochonguccho which is apparently an influence of Gustave Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas .

Publication of Naari, a feminist work, earned him general popularity and paved way for establishing himself in the literary world of Bangladesh. He started to write novels in 1990s which sold well. Azad's writings indicate his distaste for corrupt politicians, abusive military rulers and fundamentalist Islam.

Nevertheless, his prose shows a well-knit and compact style of his own. His formation of a sentence, choice of words and syntax are very characteristic of him. Although he often fell victim to the temptation of using fiction as a vehicle of conspicuous political and philosophical message, he distinguished himself with his unique style and diction.


Azad has received numerous awards; mainly for his all literature works.

  • Bangla Academy Award (1986)
  • Ekushey Padak (2012)


On August 11, 2004, Professor Azad was found dead in his apartment in Munich, Germany, where he had arrived a week earlier to conduct research on the nineteenth century German romantic poet Heinrich Heine. His family demanded an investigation, alleging that the extremists who had attempted the earlier assassination had a role in this death. He was buried in Rarhikhal, his village home in Bangladesh.

Assassination attempt

Azad had been fearing for his life ever since excerpts of his new novel, Pak Sar Jamin Sad Bad (Pakistan's national anthem; Blessed be the Sacred Land) was first published in The Daily Ittefaq's Eid supplement in 2003. In that write-up, he tried to expose the politics and ideology of Islamic fundamentalists of Bangladesh. After that book had been published, he started receiving various threats from the fundamentalists. In an email to Mukto-mona, an independent website, where he was then a member, Azad wrote:

On February 27, 2004, he became the victim of a vicious assassination attempt by assailants near the campus of the University of Dhaka during the annual Bangla Academy book fair. A week prior to Dr Azad's assault, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, one of the renowned religious leaders of Bangladesh demanded, in the parliament, that Dr Azad's political satire Pak Sar Jamin Sad Bad would be banned and demanded the introduction of the Blasphemy Act on the author.

In 2006 the commander of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) admitted to the RAB interrogators that his operatives carried out the attacks on writer Humayun Azad and another faculty member of Rajshahi University in 2004. The official position of Azad's attempt of assassination is still unidentified.

Professional and literary life

Azad was born in the village of Rarhikhal, Munshiganj district. He earned BA degree in Bengali language and literature from University of Dhaka. He obtained his PhD in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in 1976. He later served as a faculty member of the department of Bengali language and literature at the University of Dhaka. His early career produced works on Bengali linguistics, notably syntax. He was regarded as a leading linguist of the Bengali language.

Towards the end of 1980s, he started to write newspaper column focusing on contemporary socio-political issues. His commentaries continued throughout the 1990s and were later published as books as they grew in numbers. Through his writings of 1990s, he established himself as a freethinker and appeared to be an agnostic. In his works, he openly criticized religious extremism, as well as Islam, the major religion in Bangladesh.

In 1992 Professor Azad published the first comprehensive feminist book in Bengali titled Naari (Woman). Largely akin to The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir in contents and ideas, Naari became a best-seller and earned Humayun Azad popularity as an author. In this work Azad painstakingly compiled the feminist ideas of the West that underlie the feminist contributions of the subcontinent's socio-political reformers and drew attention to the anti-women attitude of some acclaimed Bengali writers including Rabindranath Tagore. The work, critical of the patriarchal and male-chauvinistic attitude of religion towards women, attracted negative reaction from the conservatives. The Government of Bangladesh banned the book in 1995. The ban was eventually lifted in 2000, following a legal battle that Azad won in the High Court of the country.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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