What most immediately galvanizes the reader of Freedom Song is the elegance and idiosyncrasy of Amit Chaudhuri's writing. In the words of Salman Rushdie: "[His] languorous, elliptical, beautiful prose is impressively impossible to place in any category at all." And it is this quality of ineffability that gives Chaudhuri's words the power they have to reveal--slowly, quietly, with a richness of sensual detail and subtle humor--the significance of the ordinary moments of life.
A boy spends a summer and a winter with his parents in a Bombay high-rise, and spends other summers in Calcutta immersed in the more traditional life of his uncle's extended family . . . A young man at Oxford, whose memories of home in Bombay bring both comfort and melancholy, faces a choice between "clinging to my Indianness, or letting it go, between being nostalgic or looking toward the future". . . The members of a Calcutta family are occupied with the task of finding the right woman for the twenty-eight-year-old son who would rather occupy himself with politics . . .
In these three short novels--Freedom Song, Afternoon Raag, and A Strange and Sublime Address ("The best portrait of India today I've read," wrote Margaret Drabble)--Chaudhuri illuminates the surprisingly nuanced intimate worlds of middle-class Indian men, women, and children. The novels brim with the author's stunning evocations of place and time, and his radiant descriptions and subtle explorations of the expected and surprising events of daily life; the effects of family connectedness and separation; the desires and demands of youth and age; the things and events that confirm "how mysterious the world [is] at every moment"; the hidden complexities of a fully lived inner life. From these elements Amit Chaudhuri shapes mesmerizing narratives, uncovering the remarkable in what might otherwise seem merely quotidian.
Freedom Song is the work of a writer--published here for the first time in the United States--possessed of an extraordinary gift.
About Amit Chaudhuri
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Published January 1, 1998
Literature & Fiction.