Calcutta: Two Years in the City

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Penguin Books Limited, Jan 15, 2013 - Fiction - 192 pages
3 Reviews
In 1999, Amit Chaudhuri returned with his family to Calcutta. He did so tentatively. Calcutta was where his parents had moved after retirement; it was the city he had loved in his youth and in whose lanes he had spent tranquil childhood holidays; one he had made his name writing about. But that Calcutta had receded and another had taken its place. Calcutta is Chaudhuri’s account of two years (2009–11) in the great metropolis. Using the idea of return and the historical elections of 2011 as his fulcrum, he travels between the nineteenth century, when the city burst with a new vitality, to the twenty-first century, when, utterly changed, it seems to be on the verge of another turn. Along the way Chaudhuri evokes all that is most particular and extraordinary about the city—from its houses with their slatted windows to its effervescent cultural life. He paints, too, an acute, often ironic picture of life in the city today—of its malls and restaurants, its fitful attempts to embrace globalisation, its middle class who leave and then return reluctantly, its bygone aristocracy, and its poor. Lyrical, brilliantly observed, and profound, Calcutta is, among other things, an extraordinary meditation on the problem of living in, understanding, and imagining a city. It is a masterpiece, and one of the great books written about this unforgettable metropolis.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bezoar44 - LibraryThing

I tried. I bought the book hoping it would provide (as per the jacket) a 'intimate, luminous portrait of Calcutta', a city about which I'd love to learn more. Instead, it offers a kind of peevish ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bluepigeon - LibraryThing

I have never read Amit Chaudhuri's novels, but I can see that he is not a plot-mover; he is rather a mood-setter. Even in his essays about Calcutta, or Kalkota, there is a strong sense of moods ... Read full review

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