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Chowringhee by Sankar


Literary Fiction   
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A classic in India this has now been translated in to English and is a thoroughly absorbing novel set in a hotel in Calcutta. Following the everyday lives of those who enter the hotel, the staff are like a family and we watch their highs and lows. A wonderful snapshot of life in Calcutta, full of anecdotes and incidents.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Written in Bengali in 1962, this is the first English translation of Chowringhee, which is as colourful, rich and bustling a novel as the city of Calcutta itself, where it is set. It is the tale of Shahjahan – one of Calcutta’s finest and oldest hotels. The sprawling trawl through life in Chowringhee generally, and the hotel Shahjahan more specifically, told through the eyes of Shankar the hotel’s receptionist is a sparkling gem. We watch mesmerised as, in an almost timeless era, all humanity passes through the hotel, and we witness the hopes, fears, loves and losses that make up life. This wonderfully overindulgent escapist and heady confection of sweetmeats is one that we never want to end.
~ Caroline White


Chowringhee by Sankar

Welcome to the Shahjahan, one of Calcutta's oldest and most venerable hotels. In Chowringhee , the Shahjahan's new receptionist regales his audience with stories of the people who spend their days and nights within the Shahjahan's grand facade. Like Bengal itself, this is a place where greed, seduction and death live alongside love, luxury and pride. With wit, warmth, and ferocious energy, Chowringhee reveals to us an entire universe. One of the great novels of contemporary Indian literature, it presents a glittering vision of a lost metropolis, and an homage to an old Bengal of myth and memory.


'A terrific page-turner... An utter treat... Chowringhee might, to many eyes, supply more unashamed reader-transporting enjoyment than any other fiction of the year.'
Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'I lost myself in it for days... A wonderful experience - both gripping and moving.'
Vikram Seth

'Chowringhee is one of those novels you don't want to end. It teems with life, creating an entirely absorbing world.'
Vikas Swarup, author of Slumdog Millionaire

'A panoramic and utterly captivating picture of a workplace, a city and an era - This old-fashioned feast of storytelling crawls with character, heaves with drama and bursts with flavour - A sumptuous buffet of a book.'
Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'Chowringhee has that essential quality of a good novel: the capacity to escape, and help the reader escape, time. You want to turn the pages, but you do not want the pages to end. The words are fresh, and the world of the novel is completely alive, despite being written over 40 years ago... A lovely, charming book brimming with life and full of the unexpectedness of a closely observed world.'
Book of the Week, Guardian

About the Author

Sankar (Mani Sankar Mukherji) is one of Bengal’s most widely read modern novelists. He is also the author of several non-fiction bestsellers, including a biography of Swami Vivekananda. Two of his novels, Seemabaddha (Company Limited) and Jana Aranya (The Middleman) were filmed by Satyajit Ray. He lives in Calcutta.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st June 2010



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Atlantic Books


416 pages


Literary Fiction

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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