A Writer Returns To Bombay After 26/11 To Confront A City He Left Years Ago

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By Somak Ghoshal

friend“I feel no nostalgia,” says the narrator of Amit Chaudhuri’s new book, Friend of My Youth, about Bombay, the city he grew up in decades ago and now visits only occasionally. “What I encounter is an impossibility,” he continues, “of recovering whatever it was that formed me, which I churlishly disowned.”

The sentiment, crisp and unsparing, defines the mood of this odd literary creature. One hesitates to call it a novel, since Chaudhuri’s narrator, a writer who shares his name and his biographical details, abjures the term with a studied deliberation. “No one is sure any more what the novel is,” he observes at one point. “I suddenly grew tired of the novel,” he tells a journalist later, even as the spectre of literary publishing and its dismal fate in the 21st century looms large over this slim volume.

At a little over hundred pages, Friend of My Youth, which borrows its title from a story by Alice Munro, is almost as short as Afternoon Raag, one of Chaudhuri’s early novellas, which glances at his life in Bombay. In Friend of My Youth, the city is at the centre of the narrative but unrecognisably changed from the time the narrator knew it. At best, it can only evoke a tentative longing; at worst, it fills him with mild disdain. Read more

Source: Huffingtong Post

 

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