Dr. Casey Clabough, associate professor of English, received the first Bangladesh International Literary Award at Daffodil University in Dhaka in January. The award was created and financed by local businessmen. Dr. Clabough says he suspects they became aware of his work largely because of online interviews he did with Bengalis in Dhaka.
While in Dhaka, Dr. Clabough gave five lectures, as well as readings from his new novel, Confederado: A Novel of the Americas, at a number of universities. Confederados were southerners who left the South for countries in Central and South America after the Civil War.
Because Bangladesh split off from wealthier Pakistan, Dr. Clabough said he surmises that the Bengalis can relate to the South after the U.S. Civil War. “There may have been a resonance there,” he said. His audiences, which included upwards of 400 people, seemed interested when he tried to draw historical parallels, but he said the language barrier was significant. He was assigned various translators since only a handful of people spoke English.
Dr. Clabough said the most striking thing about Bangladesh was the poverty. “The sheer nature of the poverty there was shocking,” he said, noting that poverty he had seen in Central and South America did not come close to what he saw in Bangladesh.
Dr. Clabough is the author of seven books and numerous essays and is editor of the James Dickey Review. His previous awards include a Brazilian Artists Grant and several U.S.-based fellowships.