The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian
by Nirad C. Chaudhuri, introduction by Ian Jack
The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian is an astonishing work of self-discovery and the revelation of a peerless and provocative sensibility. Describing his childhood in the Bengali countryside and his youth in Calcutta—and telling the story of modern India from his own fiercely independent viewpoint—Chaudhuri fashions a book of deep conviction, charm, and intimacy that is also a masterpiece of the writer’s art.
Reading this book is to be immersed in India, you feel you are living that life, such is the power of this acute, stubbornly honest, capaciously minded writer to recreate his times.
— Doris Lessing
The autobiographer Nirad Chaudhuri has been, throughout his long life, an erudite, contrary and mischievous presence....That he has swum so strongly against the current has not, however, prevented The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian from being recognized as the masterpiece that it is.
— Salman Rushdie
No better account of the penetration of the Indian mind by the West—and by extension, of the penetration of one culture by another—will be or now can be written.
— V. S. Naipaul
But Chaudhuri's memoirs were more than a series of reminiscences—in detailed characterisation of the ethos of a whole age and in its dissection of the process of formation of a nation's identity, it transcended the genre of the autobiography.
— Sukumar Muralidharan, Frontline