divendres, 29 d’octubre de 2010

AMIT CHAUDHURI


Born in Calcutta, India, in 1962, Amit Chaudhuri was brought up in Bombay. He graduated from University College, London, and was a research student at Balliol College, Oxford. He was later Creative Arts Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and received the Harper Wood Studentship for English Literature and Poetry from St John's College, Cambridge. He has contributed fiction, poetry and reviews to numerous publications including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Yorker and Granta magazine.

His first book, A Strange and Sublime Address (1991), a novella and a number of short stories, won the Betty Trask Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best First Book) and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. His second novel, Afternoon Raag (1993), won both the Southern Arts Literature Prize and the Encore Award (for best second novel of the year). The novel adopts the metaphor of Indian classical music, the raag, to evoke the complex emotions displayed by the narrator, a young Indian student at Oxford. It was followed by Freedom Song (1998), set in Calcutta during the winter of 1992-3 against a backdrop of growing political tension between Hindus and Muslims. The US edition of Freedom Song won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Fiction) in 2000. A New World (2000) is the story of Jayojit Chatterjee, a divorced writer living in America, and the visit he makes with his son Vikram to his elderly parents' home in Calcutta. His latest book, Real Time (2002), includes a number of short stories set in Bombay and Calcutta, some of which have been published in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New Yorker, as well as 'E-minor', a memoir written in verse. D. H. Lawrence and 'Difference': Postcoloniality and the Poetry of the Present, exploring Lawrence's position as a 'foreigner' in the English canon, was published in 2003.

Amit Chaudhuri is currently teaching Creative Writing at the Unversity of East Anglia. He is editor of The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature, published in 2001. His most recent book is St. Cyril Road and Other Poems (2005).

Amit Chaudhuri's first book, A Strange and Sublime Address (1991), unfolds in Calcutta, as the child protagonist, Sandeep, leaves behind the tranquility of his parents' flat in Bombay and returns, once more, to spend the vacation in Calcutta. Winner of the 1991 Betty Trask Award, the narrative of A Strange and Sublime Address is structured around nine evocative tales. Like so many of his other stories and novels, the text is without major events or upheavals. Nothing much seems to happen. Yet this is one of the strengths of Chaudhuri's writing, which pursues its larger questions indirectly, and through the seemingly insignificant. In a typically outspoken attack on postcolonial writing recently, Chaudhuri despaired that work appearing under this heading 'has become less a critical or imaginative exploration than a political programme, with novelists "writing back" to the Empire that had supposedly formed their recent histories'. Whether or not we agree with Chaudhuri here, it would be difficult to accuse the author's own imaginative explorations of such reductiveness.

His next novel, Afternoon Raag (1993), tells the story of a young English Literature student at Oxford University, whose obsession with music is matched only by his equally obsessive memories and hallucinations of home and the past. The 'raag' (a piece of classical Indian music) of the title is not just an allusion to the musical tastes of the 'I' narrator - it seems to refer to the very substance of the novel and its poetic, musical prose. In a recent article, Amit Chaudhuri recalled the influence of Nobel Prize winner, V. S. Naipaul, on his work, and there is something of Naipaul's sadness, solitariness and pessimism here. Both A Strange and Sublime Address and Afternoon Raag have been more recently collected with a new novel, Freedom Song (1998). Freedom Song is set against the backdrop of social, religious and economic unrest. It follows the lives of two families in Calcutta as they grow up and grow old.