Sankar’s Chowringhee on indepdendent foreign fiction shortlist

April 16th, 2010 - 11:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) “Chowringhee”, an iconic Bengali novel by Kolkata-based Mani Sankar Mukherjee penned in 1962, has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction 2009.
It is the only novel from Asia to figure on the shortlist.

The prize, instituted 10 years ago, is supported by the Arts Council England and Champagne Taittinger, is considered one of the most esteemed for fictions in translation in Britain and beyond. The winner will be announced May 15.

The novel has been translated by Arunava Sinha.

The shortlist includes Brodeck’s “Report by Philippe Claudel”, “The Blind Side of the Heart” by Julia Franck, “Fists” by Pietro Grossi, “Broken Glass” by Alain Mabanckou and “The Dark Side of Love” by Rafik Schami.

“Chowringhee” written under the pen-named Sankar was first published in 1962. It is woven around the most enduring and elite relic of colonial Kolkata, the Grand Hotel. It appears in his book in the avatar of Shahjahan Hotel.

The book which looks at Kolkata of the 1960s through the eyes of young Bengali executive captures the changing city- in all its shades of comedy, pathos, diverse cast of people, the echelon of the society, seamy underbelly and a hint of politics. It was published in Britain by the Atlantic Press.

The appeal of the book lies in the story that it tells, author Sankar said.

“You can call it a urban fairytale that brings to light the ethos of a evolving metropolis. I think it will continue to draw readers throughout 21st century because it is the modern novel to capture the international spirit of Kolkata,” the writer told IANS from Kolkata.

Reminiscing the heydeys of his spectacular success of the book, which graced the bookshelves in almost every literate Bengali household, Sankar said, “The Grand Hotel was emblematic of the oriental grandeur of Kolkata. The nomination is an honour for me,” he said.

The writer is awaiting the publication of a translation of a treatise on the life of seer Vivekananda that will be published by Penguin-Books India Ltd.

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