Amit Chaudhuri is the award-winning author of seven novels, including Friend of My Youth, as well as three books of essays, two of poems and a collection of short stories. He lives in Kolkata (Calcutta) and a number of his novels have the city as their setting; he has also written the non-fiction, Calcutta: Two Years in the City.
Amit Chaudhuri is a recorded performer in the Indian classical vocal tradition and a composer of experimental works. His new book, Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music, is by turns essay, memoir and cultural study, a singular account of Amit Chaudhuri’s discovery of, and enduring passion for, North Indian music: an ancient, evolving tradition whose principles and practices will alter the reader’s notion of what music might – and can – be. Tracing the music’s development, Finding the Raga dwells on its most distinctive and mysterious characteristics: its extraordinary approach to time, language and silence; its embrace of confoundment; and its ethos of evocation over representation. The result is a strange gift of a book, for musicians and music lovers, and for any creative mind in search of diverse and transforming inspiration.
Simply stunning. [...] Calcutta should be mandatory reading not only for those unfamiliar with the place but for those who imagine they know it well [...] Blending reportage, meditation, history and critique, it draws a fascinating portrait. - The Independent
Chaudhuri’s languorous, elliptical, beautiful prose is impressively impossible to put in any category at all. - Salman Rushdie
The city, reeling from the impact of the 2008 terrorist attacks, weighs heavily on Amit's mind, as does the unexpected absence of his childhood friend Ramu, a drifting, opaque figure who is Amit's last remaining connection to the city he once called home.
In this wonderfully rich and diverse collection of essays, Amit Chaudhuri explores the way in which writers understand and promote their own work in antithesis to writers and movements that have gone before. The book particularly illuminates new ways of thinking about Western and non-Western traditions, prejudices, and preconceptions.
Amit Chaudhuri's new collection of poems makes a fresh, spiritual accommodation with the world. The poems often take their themes from sweets named and eaten, meals remembered, and matches these with meditations on culture, people, time and identity that slowly unfold as much in the mouth as in the mind.