Amit Chaudhuri: Poet of the Mundane
Amit Chaudhuri matches the glorious nothingness of Afternoon Raag at last with his beautiful new novel about a bookish young Bengali Everyman and his uncle in London: Open
This is the story of Ananda, a 22-year old Indian man and an aspiring poet in exile, full of the usual contradictions. He is a student of English literature in London but at odds with the city. He reads poetry even in the bathroom, but despises novels. He has not bothered to read The Odyssey and though he has waded through Ulysses, he did not enjoy it, except briefly when a customs man at JFK discovered it in his luggage. Yet, with characteristic playfulness, Amit Chaudhuri layers over the persona of his protagonist that most inter-textual of archetypes, Odysseus.
Eighty something years after Leopold Bloom set out on his walk through Dublin, Ananda wakes up, meets his tutor, pays his rent, eats a sandwich, and takes the tube to meet up with his talkative, moody uncle Rangamama. The two of them eat dinner, and around the time an Ian McEwan novel would be climaxing with the revelation of a secret that changes everything, they buy laddoos and return to Ithaca.
To read Amit Chaudhuri, the acclaimed author of 12 books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, is to set aside any expectation of something happening, of course. What is happening is nothing.