Today, MBB is delighted to welcome debut novelist Indranil Banerjie to talk about his novel, AGE OF ANXIETY, set in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), back in the sixties and seventies. It's an absorbing read which absolutely draws the reader in. I can guarantee that, having read the book.
Indranil Banerjie on the web:
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What inspired you to write this novel?
I always wanted to write about the difficult decades of the Sixties and Seventies in India, and about the passing of an age. What better way to tell it than through the eyes of a young lad growing up in that sad and wonderful milieu.
How long did the process of writing the book take?
Took me four long years! Never thought I would finish it one day. But then suddenly one night, the last lines were in place.
Did you plot the novel or did it take its own course?
It took its own course because it followed the life of a person growing up in a bewildering world of great contrast and differences.
Did your character ever do something which surprised even you?
Never thought he would grow up and let me get on with me life.
Is there another novel in your future?
Yes, a fast working adventure this time and hopefully it will be done in quick time.
THE AGE OF ANXIETY
India has been Independent for just about two decades when a young Bengali boy, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, takes his place within the portals of an ancient school that continues to glorify its colonial past.
India is changing and the city that was once the proud capital of a vast Colonial empire is in rapid decline but the school holds out, white and resplendent amidst the surrounding gloom and depredation.
Sarat Chandra, cut off from his familiar world, is thrown together with a bunch of boys who hail from diverse backgrounds - Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Armenians and Muslims. Within the school’s portals he must adapt and conform to its ancient traditions. He finds a new name, makes friends and discovers the first flush of romance but struggles to come to terms with his family’s precarious financial situation, which fuels his inherent anxiety.
Much like Sarat Chandra, the city too is grappling to come of age. Mired in post-Independence politics and economic decline, anxiety and gloom has spread through the populace jostling for space in an increasingly crowded and unrelenting city. The elite have taken over the mansions left behind by the colonialists while the poor throng the pavements and empty spaces.
Will Sarat Chandra find his place in the city or is he forever doomed to be the outsider, the ‘mofussil’ boy with an identity crisis?
This is a story about a generation numbed by the anxiety of the Sixties and the Seventies, about music dying in the bars, entire populations quietly fleeing the city and yesteryear's generation fortifying themselves within anachronistic colonial institutions to hold out against the assaults of change.
REVIEW by Maria Perry Mohan
A coming of age story which I read with great pleasure. I'm not someone who particularly enjoys coming of age stories generally, but the author just seemed pull me in.Young Sarat Chandra Chatterjee is a sort of 'everyman' with whom readers can empathise. As he navigates the rocky terrain of life, the reader finds him/herself enthralled by Sarto's adventures, as he brings Calcutta in the sixties, seventies and eighties vividly to life. A compelling story, it will make you laugh at times and cry at times, but will never leave you unmoved. The author's dry sense of humour is also a delight, as is his wonderfully discreet and tactful writing, which doesn't conceal, but at the same time steers clear of vulgarity of any kind. Indranil Banerjie is a gifted writer and I'll be looking out for his work in future. Highly recommended.
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