The Epic City by Kushanava Choudhury
The World on the Streets of Calcutta

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At its heart, The Epic City is a meditation on memory, how people dwell in the private past, while their refusal to confront painful historical events keeps Kolkata’s bhadralok “strangers to ourselves, our heads filled with notions that have nothing to do with the lives that we are living”.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

A masterful, entirely fresh portrait of great hopes and dashed dreams in a mythical city from a new literary voice.

Everything that could possibly be wrong with a city was wrong with Calcutta.

When Kushanava Choudhury arrived in New Jersey at the age of twelve, he had already migrated halfway around the world four times. After graduating from Princeton, he moved back to the region his immigrant parents had abandoned, to a city built between a river and a swamp, where the moisture-drenched air swarms with mosquitos after sundown.

Once the capital of the British Raj, and later India's industrial and cultural hub, by 2001 Calcutta was clearly past its prime. Why, his relatives beseeched him, had he returned? Surely, he could have moved to Delhi, Bombay, or Bangalore, where a new golden age of consumption was being born.

Yet fifteen million people still lived in Calcutta. Working for the Statesman, its leading English newspaper, Kushanava Choudhury found the streets of his childhood unchanged by time. Shouting hawkers still overran the footpaths, fish-sellers squatted on bazaar floors; politics still meant barricades and bus burnings.

Sifting through the chaos for the stories that never make the papers, Kushanava Choudhury paints a soulful, compelling portrait of the everyday lives that make Calcutta. Written with humanity, wit, and insight, The Epic City is an unforgettable portrait of a city that is a world unto itself.

 

About Kushanava Choudhury

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Kushanava Choudhury grew up in Calcutta and New Jersey. After graduating from Princeton University he worked as a reporter at the Statesman in Calcutta. He went on to receive a PhD in Political Theory from Yale University and work as a reporter for The New York Times before returning to Calcutta to write a book about the city. The Epic City is his first book. He lives in New Delhi and Edison, New Jersey.
 
Published January 9, 2018 by Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Comics & Graphic Novels, Education & Reference, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Epic City
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by William Dalrymple on Aug 27 2017

...The Epic City is a wonderful, beautifully written and even more beautifully observed love letter to Calcutta’s greatness: to its high culture, its music and film, its festivals, its people, its cuisine, its urban rhythms and, above all, to its rooted Bengaliness.

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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Amy Kazmin on Aug 04 2017

At its heart, The Epic City is a meditation on memory, how people dwell in the private past, while their refusal to confront painful historical events keeps Kolkata’s bhadralok “strangers to ourselves, our heads filled with notions that have nothing to do with the lives that we are living”.

Read Full Review of The Epic City: The World on t... | See more reviews from Financial Times

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