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Book review: This travelogue is a nostalgic ride to the City of Joy, Kolkata

Author Kushanava Choudhury’s book The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta, explores and unfolds Kolkata in a manner like never before.

books Updated: Aug 26, 2017 17:26 IST
Nabanita Das
Nabanita Das
Hindustan Times
The Epic City,Kushanava Choudhury,Kolkata
The cover of the book The Epic City:The World on the Streets of Calcutta.

If you have read William Dalrymple’s City Of Djinns, you would know how a book can become a companion for you, by bridging the gap between a person’s inner self and a city’s soul. Dalrymple wrote about Delhi in a manner, which only a few have managed to do in the past. Author Kushanava Choudhury does quite the same with his book, The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta. Though drawing comparison between these two books is unjust, but it must be said that Choudhury has successfully managed to bring alive the everyday life from the streets of Kolkata.

Very few travelogues have the capacity to reach the true essence of a city. This book, written in first-person, does that quite successfully! From travelling across the streets of Sealdah and North Kolkata that houses old-world British-era buildings to unearthing the dead stories from office para (street) at Dalhousie Square and Esplanade, this book finds a connect with most of the city-bred scholars who had to leave Kolkata is search of green pastures.

What’s the most endearing part of Choudhury’s storytelling technique? Following the American-style of writing, the author uses simple, short and direct sentences, well-stocked with information.

Also, the emotions are honest, non-melodramatic and non-superficial. The author returns to Kolkata after his graduation from Princeton University, US, and starts working as a journalist with a newspaper. His memories of the city manage to build a special connect with journalists all over the world.

For a Kolkatan, the book evokes a feeling of nostalgia. But, post reliving one’s memories, hand it over to anyone shifting to Kolkata, and acquaint them with the City of Joy.

Facts
  • Title: The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta
  • Author: Kushanava Choudhury
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Price: Rs 499

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First Published: Aug 26, 2017 17:26 IST