Book Review: The Epic City by Kushanava Choudhury|Calcutta through the author’s perspective

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

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 theStatesman, 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, while Communist ministers traveled in motorcades.

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.

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‘The Epic City’ hits home and hits hard. It takes you into the heart of Calcutta, its core flaws and outstanding beauty. Calcutta/Kolkata is a busy city, with people running around as they attend to their daily schedule.

Even though Calcutta isn’t my home town, I have lived there for two years and this book made me nostalgic. Obviously, I didn’t agree with everything the author had to say, but I accepted it nonetheless because knowing a city is bigger and deeper than one person’s experience.

Kushanava Choudhury moved to New Jersey when he was 12 years old. But after graduating from Princeton, he came back to Calcutta and these stories are his view of this world where he truly belongs. His interaction with jobless men, random streets and abandoned building, and how the city helps him to cope up with his personal tragedies. It is a memoir and reads like one but the storytelling is flawless and the personal touch throughout the narration makes it interesting and fun.

There is a reason this book has been grabbing attention. The authors perspective of the city is vibrant, engrossing and very relatable. It gives an insight into what Calcutta truly is, not just a crowded city with a lot of drama. Calcutta is the yellow taxis, the rich culture, the tramways, the landscape and the small cha-biscuit shops (tea and cookies).

If you are someone who hasn’t experience what this city has to offer firsthand, this is perfect for you. And if you are from Calcutta, then this book with bing you the familiar comfort of home. The author feeds you Calcutta in small doses and the personal touch he adds makes it more engaging and informative.

ratings5-heart-ratingPurchase Links:                                      |Amazon Kindle|

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*Thank you Bloomsbury India for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*

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