Bangalore:  Novelist Dibakar Purkayastha’s new book “Socially Distanced” was virtually launched with the participation of panelists and booklovers from across the country.

This is the author’s third novel in English, the first two being “Log out North East India” and “Mystery at New Delhi 10/15.”

Purkayastha is registered as an author in the Washington Library Congress in Washington DC, USA.

He is also the recipient of the Byatikram Literary Award 2016. Speaking at the launch, Purkayastha said, “The story narrates the biography of an Indian Muslim who was born in the penultimate decade of the last century and who could not grow into manhood because he was born as a member of the most wretched eunuch commune, known as hijra in the Indian subcontinent.”

Tezpur-based LGBT rights activist Arpana Choudhury delivered an illuminating talk on the issue that not only gave a vivid picture about the plight and problems of this marginalized section of the society but also provoked the participants to change their general outlook about this community.

Incidentally, Arpana is the first Assamese to be included in the Forbes India “30 Under 30 List” for being one of the most influential young personalities of India.

The formal launch of the book was announced by Padmashree Patricia Mukhim, editor, The Shillong Times, in presence of other dignitaries.

This was followed by reading of excerpts from the book, done by Ankita, an MNC professional with degree in computer science and engineering.

Monotosh Chakravarty, Vice Principal, St Edmunds College, Shillong, and a former professor of English literature said, “Purkayastha’s new book ‘Socially Distanced’ is an honest attempt at depicting the life of a transgender, Aamin, who is out on a “quest for identity”, an identity that eludes to be his.”

Imad Uddin Bulbul, a well-known historian from Silchar, lauded the invincible language and gory details that add to the strength of the novel.

Prof Dr JB Bhattacharjee, former VC of Assam University,  Silchar, gave a historical perspective of the condition of the hijra community right from the Middle Ages to the present day, and felt that they deserved greater compassion and consideration from society.

Patricia Mukhim, while making the concluding remarks, said that Purkayastha’s book deals with a very important issue that our society is mostly unaware of.

She said she was overwhelmed by the plight of the protagonist of the book, Aameen, and unknowingly teardrops dropped from her eyes while reading the book. She felt that every conscious person should read this book.

While Amrita, a doctorate from JNU New Delhi, was the technical host of the virtual programme, the same was moderated by Nurul Laskar, motivational speaker and PR Consultant.

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