That beautiful (but often overlooked) dedication page in books
When you start reading a book, don’t start with the first chapter, because if you skip the dedication page, you might miss the small but heartfelt/hilarious/uplifting note written by the author.
Pick any book and chances are it was dedicated to someone – a loving spouse, friend, etc. – someone important enough for the writer to dedicate his precious work to him. Sometimes the dedication notes are pretty mundane; ‘to my parents’, or simply the name of a person.
But when great writers set out to articulate their thoughts, the one-page note becomes a gem.
We start with Humayun Ahmed, perhaps the most beloved storyteller Bangladesh has ever produced. Here is the dedication note (in his book ‘Magic Munsi’) to magician Jewel Aich:
“Jadubiddar Everest and jini uthechen. Everestjoyira sringo bijoyer por neme ashen. Eni namte bhule gechen.”
Such a warm compliment! Ahmed’s dedication is simple yet so profound, as are his stories – therein lies his genius. Here’s a tip: whenever you pick up a book by Humayun Ahmed, never forget to read the dedication page. These notes are usually as good – personal, funny or intimate – as the stories themselves.
It is common to dedicate books to family members, but the spiritual Chetan Bhagat wrote it in his own way. He wrote in the book “A Night at the Call Center”, “To my baby twins and the wonderful woman who created them”, then added with an asterisk in a footnote, “with a little help from me.”
You’ve probably read Arundhati Roy’s iconic work, “The God of Little Things.” Did you read the beautiful dedication, though? Beautiful indeed, and no doubt, makes you curious too:
“For Mary Roy, who made me grow. Who taught me to say ‘excuse me’ before interrupting her in Public. Who loved me enough to let me go.
For LKC, who, like me, survived.”
On the other hand, the following dedication, from the famous Neil Gaiman in his novel Anansi Boys, is literally for everyone:
“You know what it is. You pick up a book, turn to the dedication and find that once again the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not you.
Not this time.
‘Cause we haven’t met yet/we’re just casually acquainted/we’re just crazy about each other/we haven’t seen each other in too long/we bond somehow another / we will never meet, but we will, I hope, despite this, always think of each other fondly…
This one is for you.
With you know what, and you probably know why.”
Sometimes an author expresses gratitude, as bestselling writer John Grisham did in “Ford County-Stories”:
“When ‘A Time to Kill’ (the author’s first novel) was published twenty years ago, I quickly learned the painful lesson that selling books was much harder than writing them. bought a thousand copies and struggled to give them away.I carried them in the trunk of my car and hawked them to libraries, garden clubs, grocery stores, coffee shops and a handful of bookstores. was helped by my dear friend Bobby Moak.
There are stories that will never be told.”
Last but not least, sometimes an author just might not dedicate. But, back to Humayun Ahmed, when it happened to him, he actually announced it in his own brilliant style. In the book “Aaj Himur Biye”, a note –
“Utshorgo korar moto kowke pachchi na. Sorry.”
Photo: The visuals are dedication pages taken from some books by Humayun Ahmed