BE's Reading Desk

The Rise of Fantasy Literature in Bangladesh

The fantasy genre has seen a sudden insurgency in Bangladesh which mostly happened toward the middle of the 2010’s, when the HBO series Game of Thrones was at its peak. The show’s popularity attracted a plethora of new readers to not only the book series it was based on, but also the fantasy genre as a whole. Impressively, both the show and the books were a blend of grimdark and epic fantasy.

The most important thing about fantasy – which is evidenced by the word itself – is that imagination is the limit. This allows a plethora of subgenres to exist under fantasy. Brandon Sanderson was able to capitalize on the aforementioned show’s success with his vast series Cosmere, which is a fusion of epic and high fantasy. He was able to bring these niche subgenres of fantasy to the mainstream market.

Where grimdark, epic, and high fantasy can appeal to mature or more seasoned fantasy readers, steampunk, cottage-core, and urban fantasy give room to worlds a lot more palatable for young or new readers of the genre. Writers like Leigh Bardugo and Cassandra Clare breathed life into this part of the genre, effectively bringing the young adult genre into wider fantasy.

On the matter of genres, traditional fantasy catered more towards hardcore readers with stories where a definitive chosen one must vanquish the dark lord. The Lord of The Rings, The Wheel of Time, and Malazan have been staples among veteran fantasy readers. The influx of traction of the other genres has also brought in newer readers to the traditional fantasy.

So where does this leave Bangladeshi readers and the fantasy genre? The scope of fantasy – which is gated only by imagination – gives space for all sorts of subgenres to exist, thus potentially welcoming all sorts of readers. The growth and acceptance of the genre in the popular culture of Bangladesh has been phenomenal, especially for older heads who have dust collecting on their yellowed-out fantasy epics. They can now dabble into lore discussions and theory crafting with these newer readers. With this newfound appreciation for the genre in Bangladesh, both old and new readers can expect the popularity of fantasy to grow further.

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