Rajat Chaudhuri is the author of two works of fiction — Hotel Calcutta and Amber Dusk. A past Fellow of the Sangam House International Writers Residency, Chaudhuri’s fiction has appeared in Eclectica, Underground Voices, Notes from the Underground, The Statesman, L’Allure des Mots and other snakepits of the international literary underground. He is also a critic and has reviewed fiction for Sahitya Akademi’s (India’s National academy of Letters) Indian Literature journal, The Asian Review of Books, Outlook, The Telegraph and elsewhere. One of his short stories was the winning entry of the Wordweavers Fiction Contest, 2011. Before turning to writing full-time, Chaudhuri has been a consumer rights activist, an economic and political affairs officer with a Japanese Mission and a climate change advocate at the United Nations, New York.
Chaudhuri is currently (2013) writer-in-residence at the Toji Cultural Foundation (South Korea) from where he answered our questions.
Can stories save a hotel? How did the idea of Hotel Calcutta come to you?
For the purpose of mathematics we can assume a weightless elephant sliding down a frictionless hill. Mathematics and literature are twins. No they are brothers separated at birth, Bollywood style.
Reviel Netz has an excellent book discussing the parallels between mathematics and literature. It is called Ludic Proof: Greek Mathematics and the Alexandrian Aesthetic.
The setting came to me while guzzling expensive beer at the Fairlawn hotel in Calcutta which is housed in a two hundred year old building at the heart of the city’s entertainment district. Two other Calcutta hotels – the Astor and the Great Eastern have also influenced the setting.