“I find most moving in Chaudhuri’s writing those moments when his brilliance at literary transfiguration enacts not literary mastery but instead seems to issue from uncertainty, exile, elegy, absence, the premonition of loss.” —James Wood
Faqrul, a friendly Bangladeshi poet living in exile, takes him up—then disappears. The visiting writer is increasingly adrift in a city that not long ago was two cities, each cut off from the other, much as the new unified city is cut off from the divided one of the past. It is the fall of 2005; every day it grows colder. The visitor is beginning to feel his middle age.
To him, the new world of the twenty-first century, with its endless commodities from all over the place and no prospect of any sort of historical transformation, appears to exist in a state of amnesiac suspense. He gets involved with a woman, Birgit. He begins to miss his classes. He blacks out in the street. People are worried. “I’ve lost my bearings—not in the city; in its history,” he thinks. “The less sure I become of it, the more I know my way.” But does he?
Amit Chaudhuri’s Sojourn is a dramatic and disconcerting work of fiction, a book about the present as it slips into the past, a picture of a city and of a troubled mind, a historical novel about an ostensibly post-historical time, a story of haunting. Here, as in his earlier work, Chaudhuri pries open fictional form to explore questions of public and private life in ways that are both bold and subtle.
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Amit Chaudhuri is a novelist, essayist, poet, and musician. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he lives in Calcutta and the United Kingdom. Sojourn is his eighth novel. Among his other works are three books of essays, the most recent of which is The Origins of Dislike; a study of D.H. Lawrence’s poetry; a book of short stories, Real Time; two works of non-fiction, the latest of which is Finding the Raga; and four volumes of poetry, including New and Selected Poems (New York Review Poets, 2023).
Charles Bernstein is the winner of the 2019 Bollingen Prize for Near/Miss (University of Chicago Press, 2018) and for lifetime achievement in American Poetry. He is the author of Topsy-Turvy (Chicago, April 2021) and Pitch of Poetry (Chicago, 2016).
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