Review: Calcutta: Two Years in the City

Amit Chaudhuri has grown from a writer with humour to one in love with excess words. Dilip D’Souza reads out loud.

calcutta_bookCalcutta, especially, leaves you puzzled, groaning and ultimately, just baffled. Yet, if you read both , there’s a certain epiphany to be had.

I’ll return to that.

For now, consider: “The problem of sexuality gives to [EM Forster’s fiction]… its modernist disquiet, its obsession with duplication, alterity, otherness, and with echoes.”

Consider: the “decorative peacock feather [that] was still”, and “that stillness comprises, for me, an inalienable continuity with the child who first observed this world of relatives”.

Consider: the building that, “if you make eye contact with it during a traffic jam, still, in that brief, lethargic duration, has the power… to be both of and not of the billboards, the swarms of hawkers, the buses that take off without warning at terrifying speed, and the pedestrians constantly rushing about the Esplanade.”

And wait, this building helps “make Calcutta at once a European city and a Bengali one”.

What does all this mean, Amit?

Read More