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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Four Heroes and A Green Beard
by Narayan Gangopadhyan
Age Range: 9-11
Teni the Terrible, Pyalaram the Puny, Habul the Hungry and Kyabla the Clever are first-year students at the city college in Calcutta and are on a visit to Darjeeling for their summer holidays.
After finding some mysterious poems written on chocolate paper wrappers followed by an encounter with a strange man with a green beard called Sevenpenny Santra, the four reluctant heroes find themselves caught up in a very weird adventure story.
Narayan Gangopadhyay (1918-1970) was a well-known Bengali writer and his books are regarded as Bengali classics. His books parody the Bengali mystery novel, making fun of their blood-curdling descriptions, strange characters and improbable plots. This novel certainly has plenty of these ingredients with completely absurd situations that are truly comical as the unlikely heroes try to work out what is going on.
Two of Gangopadhyay’s novels – Four Heroes and the Haunted House and Four Heroes and a Green Beard – have been translated into English by Swati Bhattacharji and published by Tara Publishing giving UK children an opportunity to read these Bengali classics in English for the first time.