Amit Chaudhuri

Amit Chaudhuri is a professor of creative writing at Ashoka University. He has written seven novels, most recently Friend of My Youth, and is a singer and composer.

Diary: Modi’s Hinduism

Amit Chaudhuri, 17 December 2015

In November​ I had to cancel the teaching I was doing in Norwich to return to Calcutta to visit my mother, who is elderly and ailing. On the 8th, I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that this was the morning on which the results of the Bihar assembly elections were being declared. Maybe I took for granted that the BJP – which had made it clear that these elections were to be...

Diary: In Calcutta

Amit Chaudhuri, 19 May 2011

I arrived in Dubai after midnight on 22 April, nervous about missing my connecting flight. Passing through security for the second time in nine hours, rehearsing the whole belt-discarding, shoe-and-wallet-jettisoning routine with a bunch of Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Europeans, I plunged into the capitalist wakefulness that is Dubai airport. I was on my way to Calcutta from London....

What is Pakistani writing? Whatever it might be, it seems to have taken up newsprint lately. Things have been changing quickly and irrevocably over the last seven or eight years: a great symbol of American capitalism was destroyed by two aeroplanes; this was followed, some years later, by a crash in the market no less resounding and sudden; in South Asia, Pakistan (marginalised and nearly...

In 1989, I was invited to a party in London. I was a graduate student at Oxford, supposedly writing a dissertation on D.H. Lawrence but actually doing nothing of the sort. Instead, I’d completed a short novel; an extract from it had appeared in this paper, as had a poem and a review. It was on the basis of these that I must have been invited that night to the party, which was a...

The View from Malabar Hill: My Bombay

Amit Chaudhuri, 3 August 2006

Like Suketu Mehta, I was born in Calcutta, a city ‘in extremis’, in Mehta’s words, and, like him, grew up in Bombay. His father, who worked in the diamond trade, and mine, then a rising corporate executive, probably moved to Bombay from Calcutta for the same reasons; to do with the flight, in the 1960s, of capital and industry from the former colonial capital in the east to the forward-looking metropolis in the west, in the face of growing labour unrest and radical politics in leftist Bengal – the troubled context that ‘in extremis’ presumably refers to.

The meanings​ that the word abroad has accumulated since it was first used to mean ‘widely scattered’ include: ‘out of one’s house’ (Middle English), ‘out of...

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At Ramayan Shah’s Hotel: Calcutta

Deborah Baker, 23 May 2013

In January 1990 I moved from New York to Calcutta to get married. Having never been to India, I came equipped with V.S. Naipaul’s India: A Wounded Civilisation and Geoffrey...

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There’s nothing like a book about music to remind the reader of the silence. Nothing else insists so emphatically on what we are usually happy to forget: that, during the hours we read, our...

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Anti-Humanism: Lawrence Sanitised

Terry Eagleton, 5 February 2004

One of the most tenacious of all academic myths is that literary theorists don’t go in for close reading. Whereas non-theoretical critics are faithful to the words on the page, theorists...

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Handfuls of Dust: Amit Chaudhuri

Richard Cronin, 12 November 1998

The first of the great Indian novelists to write in English, R.K. Narayan, wrote modest novels about modest people living in the small South Indian town of Malgudi. The completeness of the world...

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Doing justice to the mess

Jonathan Coe, 19 August 1993

The triumphs of this novel are at once tiny and enormous. Tiny because, like its predecessor A Strange and Sublime Address, it tells only of a placid and uneventful life, a life of domesticity,...

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City of Dust

Julian Symons, 25 July 1991

What Carlyle called the Condition of England Question – in our day, the country created by Thatcher and her sub-lieutenants – is surely the ripest subject on offer to novelists. The...

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