Amit Chaudhuri takes on literary ambition and spiritual meditations of Bengali sweetmeats in two new books.
Award-winning novelist, poet, literary critic and musician Amit Chaudhuri explores many aspects of reading, writing, publishing and criticism in his new book The Origins of Dislike (Oxford University Press, 2018). The book also includes chapters on Western art, Asian cinema, Indian regional writing, Asian poetry, the Bhagavad Gita, Rabindranath Tagore and Rudyard Kipling. Soni Wadhwa, reviewing the book for Asian Review of Books, complimented its “considerable attention to the role the market plays in defining what people read and how … [he] writes with empathy and irony about writers … who view their craft as being about exploring different angles of human condition.”
In Sweet Shop (Salt, 2019), Chaudhuri’s latest poetry collection, he makes a fresh, spiritual accommodation with the world. The poems take their themes from sweets named and eaten, meals remembered, and matches these with meditations on culture, people, time and identity that slowly unfolds as much in the mouth as in the mind. Praising the book, English poet, academic and literary critic Stephen Romer says, “Triggered by the smallest things and incidents, Amit Chaudhuri’s poems respond with the spry alacrity, the ‘gravity and play’, and with the infinite longing, that characterizes his prose. A remembered taste, a Bengali confectionery, an incipient thunderstorm, an attempt to adjust his (absent) spectacles, a short-cut down a decayed, remembered lane in Calcutta, to emerge ‘into the present’s pungency.”