Tag Archives: kolkata

City of Death by Abheek Barua

City of Death by Abheek Barua Title: City of Death
Author: Abheek Barua
Publisher: Juggernaut Books
ISBN: 9788193237212
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Pages: 263
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

So this was the first book by Juggernaut Books that I read and I must say that I was hooked to it from Page 1. Of course mainly because it is a thriller but what a thriller at that! Set in Kolkata, certainly helps its case a lot more.

The book I am talking about (you know it by now anyway) is “City of Death” by Abheek Barua. Why did I think it was that great? Well, for starters I loved the female protagonist Sohini Sen – a middle-aged, most cynical detective and might I rightly add – unforgettable as you finish the book. She is the kind of character you must have actually come across and yet so unassuming that you might not even remember till it strikes you later.

The plot: A young woman from an affluent background has been brutally murdered. Sohini gets to know of this from the chief minister’s office. She has to drop everything and get on the case. In the midst of all this, there are political parties and powers at the top who want to either not let this get solved or are just too busy with their own agendas.

I won’t go further into the plot but as I said before, I loved the character of Sohini. There is something very real about her and not to forget the star of the book: Kolkata. Barua with his writing takes you in the by-lanes of Kolkata like a magician – always showing, never telling – sometimes telling, never showing. As a reader, I was gripped from the start and honestly I was kinda disappointed when the book ended.

“City of Death” is a perfect book for that lazy rainy afternoon when you have all the time in the world to devour a book – back to back.

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An Interview with Abhijit Bhattacharya

So this is my 100th post and I am super excited!! A century and my blog feels proud. Way to go hungryreader!! And so while I ranted and raved about “Some of the Whole”, here is a quick interview with the author himself!!

Why song titles for the stories? I know you have been asked this several times, however why the songs?

To me, music is unarguably the most universal constituent in our lives. Thus, if there is anything that can bind various elements together, it is music. And hence, music was always going to be the best fit to connect some of the stories to make it into a whole.

 Abhijit as a person…

is extremely lost, lethargic and loud. And yes, did I mention that he loves picking his nose when he is hungry, has sex with his alter ego and proclaims himself to be the last standing monarch of Machu Pichu (guffaws).

 Who have been your literary influences?

Emily Bronte, O’Henry and Paulo Coelho. 

Your favourite short story in the entire book? I know they are all close to your heart, but I am sure there is one favourite as well.

You are asking me to choose between my son and my daughter. That is unfair. But since you insist, I would rate Papa Don’t Preach and What Goes Around, Comes Around.

 Currently reading….

Some of the Whole (with a serious deadpan face).

The writer and the person are not very different and yet a balance needs to be maintained. How do you achieve that?

I honestly believe that the writer and the person SHOULD not be different. If they are, then one is not doing true justice to the stories that is being written. So, if your read Some of the Whole, you will know the real me.

What environment does Abhijit need to write? I remember reading that Raymond Carver used to go to his cabin and shut himself from the world. Does that happen to you as well?

(Laughs). I remember I wrote a few stories while my wife was screaming at me; I wrote some by the sea at Bandstand (Mumbai) and I wrote one while on my flight back from Kolkata, with a baby wailing right next to me. So, probably, I am one who can create life in mayhem.

Love Stories or Satire? Which one would Abhijit as a person choose?

Abhijit the person and the writer would choose a satirical love story, with an element of twist somewhere hidden in it.

Most writers immerse themselves in music. Any favourites?

The Man Who Sold The World (Nirvana) – there is a fleeting reference of the same in one of the stories. And yes, I also love Losing My Religion. As a genre, I like soft rock.

The voices in the stories are distant and yet ring true and one can relate to them. How did you achieve that?

I am a very keen observer. I love noticing things. In a party, you would always find me in a corner observing people; their emotions. I do that everywhere. At home; on the road; at office. That is me. And that has helped me in bringing about the rawness in my characters and stories. That explains, does it?

Some of the Whole by Abhijit Bhattacharya

Buy Some Of The Whole, Abhijit Bhattacharya, 8122311482Ok here is the deal: I think a lot of people are  writing these days (including me). There are writers more than you can remember or name at any given point of time. To a certain extent it is largely ostentatious, how everyone is on the bandwagon of writing. There are times I also eat my words and this is one of those. A friend of mine casually called me one day and asked if I would like to review a new writers’ work. I jumped at the opportunity of reading and reviewing (I always do).

I received a call later from the author and we discussed books, his book, Raymond Carver and Haruki Murakami (I think.). I received the book in my email account and read it. “Some of the Whole” is real. It is at times raw and at times fantastical. The stories do not bore you (New writers tend to do that. I mean we have read it all right?). It is a collection of 10 stories based across Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. They all have the element of loneliness in a big city and sometimes the hope that lies only to be found.

The stories are to the point. There is no beating around the bush, and yet the element of surprise will not fail you. Almost like  when you bite into a lemon and know that the feeling of sourness will flood your mouth and yet it shocks or surprises you nonetheless. My favourite story in the whole lot has to be “Where is the Love” for its sheer brilliance in writing. Here is a sample:

Love becomes a habit after some time. It becomes mechanical. Like smoking. You start smoking because you get a high out of it. But, after a few months, or years it becomes a routine. One does not enjoy it; neither do they get a kick out of it. It becomes a pure custom.

It is because of such simple prose that I enjoyed the book. Every title is taken from a song, and that according to me is quite unique (even if done earlier, it does not matter). The sum of this whole and its parts  is a treasure to read. Do not miss it.

Some of the Whole, Bhattacharya, Abhijit, Cedar Books, Rs. 199, Available at all book stores.