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In these wry, lyrical stories, men, women, children, and even gods try to maintain their dignity, and make sense of their lives, amid the jostling loneliness and cultural upheaval of post-post-independence India. Whether it's an embarrassed schoolboy standing up to the tyranny of disco, a conventional housewife inspired to write her memoirs, a businessman attending memorial rites for a young suicide, or two divorcees about to enter an arranged marriage, the portraits that Amit Chaudhuri draws from India's new middle class are studies in heartbreaking awkwardness and hard-won grace.
Here, too, are those whose vocation puts them at odds with the new India: a teenaged Calcutta poet introduced to Baudelaire by a lonely widower; a traditional singing teacher who finds himself the rage among Bombay's business elite; writers and painters whose seriousness Chaudhuri treats with knowing irony and deep, elegiac respect.
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Alice Truax called Chaudhuri "an immensely gifted writer who is less interested in one particular story than in all the bits and pieces of stories that make up ordinary life." This brilliantly nuanced first story collection, which ranges over thirty years of Indian life, is proof of his astonishing gifts.
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Amit Chaudhuri is the author of several novels and a contributor to the London Review of Books, theTimes Literary Supplement, and Granta. He lives with his wife and daughter in Calcutta.
Small slices of life in Bombay and Calcutta, intensely observed and exquisitely described, characterize the stories in Chaudhuri's first collection, after the highly praised novels Freedom Song and A New World. These vignettes, rendered in minute, sensuous detail, rarely relate a dramatic event; rather, they illuminate a moment in time. It's a measure of this talented writer's skill that on the small scale of 16 stories he is able to conjure, with sunstruck clarity, the different qualities of these cities and their inhabitants. Most of the tales are set between the 1970s and the present day (with the exception of two based on the Ramayana), and the characters are generally upper-middle-class. Some are minor administrators, others are employees of British industries; most appear content to adopt British language and customs. The incongruity of grafting Western standards on an ancient culture is central to many of these tales, and in the title story and elsewhere, Chaudhuri subtly mourns the fading of tradition. In other stories, and in two autobiographical selections, the protagonist is a would-be writer, and it's clear that many of Chaudhuri's themes come from his pampered upbringing in Bombay. In the affecting "The Old Masters," the narrator realizes that the financial and social success his ambitious father had achieved for the sake of his family will be "leveled out" by a son who vows to make a living through literature. "The romance of literature," the quality of being "enveloped in [the] contentment of reading," is summoned with both concrete detail and mystical yearning. One wishes, however, that some of the Indian terms and other references had been explained. For instance, David Davidar is mentioned but not identified, and it's unlikely that the average reader will know that he is India's most famous publisher.
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Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0374281696
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0374281696