India: Is fiction-writer Siddharth Chowdhury creating a new literary form?
Siddharth Chowdhury’s first published book was a short story collection titled Diksha at St. Martins (Srishti, 2002). Some characters who first appeared in those stories, like Ritwik Ray and Mira Verma, went on to play starring roles in his next book, the brilliantly unpredictable Patna Roughcut (Picador, 2005).
Chowdhury’s next novel Day Scholar (2010) saw a shift of setting from 1980s Patna to 1990s Delhi, with a new narrator called Hriday Thakur opening up a deeply male world of Bihari hostellers who live on the fringes of Delhi University and in the terrifying shadow of Zorawar Singh Shokeen, political broker and property dealer – and their landlord.
His most recent book, The Patna Manual of Style (2015), is a set of interlinked stories that returns us to Hriday’s world a few years after Day Scholar with Chowdhury’s usual comic acuity.