In 1999, Amit Chaudhuri moved back to Calcutta, the city in which he was born. It was a place he had loved in his youth and the place he had made his name writing about. But upon his return he discovered that the Calcutta of his imagination had receded and another had taken its place.
Lyrical, observant and profound, Calcutta is a personal account of two years (2009–2011) spent in one of the least known – yet greatest – cities of our time by one of our leading novelists. Using the historic elections of 2011 as a fulcrum, Chaudhuri looks back to the nineteenth century, when the city burst with a new vitality, and towards the twenty-first, when – utterly changed – it seems to be on the verge of another turn.
Along the way he evokes all that is most particular and extraordinary. From the homeless and the working class to the old, declining haute bourgeois; from the new malls and hotels to old houses being destroyed by developers; from politicians on their way out to the city’s fitful attempts to embrace globalisation, Calcutta brings a multifarious universe to life.
AMIT CHAUDHURI is the author of Calcutta: Two Years in the City and five highly acclaimed novels, including A Strange and Sublime Address, Freedom Song and The Immortals. He is the recipient of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Betty Trask Prize, the Encore Award, the LA Times Book Prize for fiction, the Indian government’s Sahitya Akademi Award and the Infosys Prize for outstanding contribution to the humanities in literary studies. Also a poet, an acclaimed musician and critic, Amit Chaudhuri lives in Calcutta and Norwich.