When Amit Chaudhuri's collection of three short novels, Freedom Song, was published in the United States in 1999, it was met with unanimous acclaim.
It was hailed in the New York Times as "an indelible portrait of India . . . a When Amit Chaudhuri's collection of three short novels, Freedom Song, was published in the United States in 1999, it was met with unanimous acclaim.
It was hailed in the New York Times as "an indelible portrait of India . . . a Proustian tapestry." The author was called "one of the most dazzling new talents of any nationality" in the San Francisco Chronicle. Annie Dillard declared that "no lover of literature will fail to love these vivid novels by a master of prose."
Now, in his new novel--written with the same lushness of language and image we first encountered in Freedom Song--Chaudhuri creates an extraordinary, richly evocative tableau of the emotional and physical intricacies of marriage and its failure. At the center of the novel is Jayojit Chaterjee, a successful writer and economist who, a few years earlier, had followed his career to America--where his marriage came to an end. Now, a year after the divorce, Jayojit has taken his young son, Bonny, from their home in the Midwest to Calcutta to spend the summer holidays with Jayojit's parents, the Admiral and his wife.
Jayojit and his son share the dark, close flat with his parents as the fierce summer heat blankets the city outside. The streets vibrate with the sounds of car horns and the taped raags of wedding celebrations as Jayojit--visited by bittersweet memories of his married life in America--tries unsuccessfully to write. Bonny plays with old plastic dinosaurs under the furniture; the Admiral observes his family with a quizzical gaze; his wife fills the silence with solicitudes and enthusiastic but tasteless cooking.
With rare delicacy, the author delineates the details of these intertwined lives--of the elderly couple captive to the comfortable patterns of their days and the unquestioning roles dictated to them by their traditions; and of the younger, modern couple, pulled in opposite directions from each other but united in their love for Bonny, the one constant in their broken marriage.