John Keay

Paribartan Now

Calcutta: Two Years in the City


Union Books 307pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Indian book reviews are not for the faint-hearted. Amit Chaudhuri likens the literary sections of the newspapers to a lawless part of town from whose thuggery the author is lucky to escape with life and dignity intact. My own first book, an inoffensive introduction to the country from a diffident novice, was incinerated in The Hindu as though it were infected offal. The same thing happened to Chaudhuri’s novel Freedom’s Song; the reviewer in the respected Statesman apparently found it no more enticing than an ‘entomologist’s notebook’ and compared its characters to stick insects. In his new book Chaudhuri gets his own back.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,