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Music and verse

With his fifth and latest novel, The Immortals, Amit Chaudhari makes it hard to ascertain how many parts musician and how many parts author he is. Purva Mehra catches up with the author...

books Updated: Apr 04, 2009 20:18 IST
Purva Mehra

With his fifth and latest novel, The Immortals, Amit Chaudhari makes it hard to ascertain how many parts musician and how many parts author he is. In the book, the acclaimed Hindustani classical musician and singer allows the prose to be informed by music, making it the palpable force that drives and connects the characters.

Smooth flow
After its launch in the U K, the author returned to Mumbai for a reading of his unhurried and poised narrative. The city, where Chaudhari spent his early years occupies a sizeable space in the narrative, but his appears to be a less frenetic and more privileged vision of the city we inhabit.

“Distance makes things clear. No matter its pace, Mumbai is also about different smells, the invisible sea and the breeze. This city in the book is part of Nirmalya Sengupta’s invented world.

“You are meant to see the inventedness and the configurations of change post-liberalisation that have made Bombay what it is today,” said Chaudhari, in conversation with poet Arundhati Subramaniam.

It took the mild mannered author several years to pen this tome, his last, A New World was published in 2000, because in it he wanted to document the changes in India from the 80s onwards, with a focus on the early 90s.

Past revisited
“Like Nirmalya, I was ambivalent of my own presence in Bombay. I had this extreme romanticism that occasioned my inability to cope with the changes. The book also revisits the ambivalent and transcendental terrain of art,” said the 47-year-old Oxford scholar, who teaches Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia in England.

Though rooted in the past, Chaudhari doesn't intend at any point for the book to be elegiac. It’s about relationships, growing up and three people with the classical musical heritage.