Amit Chaudhuri, one of the most exploratory writers of English-language fiction, has also written and published poetry throughout his career as a novelist, poetry that shares many of the concerns of his prose while sounding a distinct and memorable note of its own. This book collects the greater portion of that work for the first time, starting with St Cyril Road, named after a street in Bandra, a suburb of Bombay to which Chaudhuri’s parents moved in the early eighties. On visits to them from the UK, where he was studying, Chaudhuri found his attention drawn to the minutiae of streets and balcony-level sightings with a sense of everyday discovery that he then brought to his poems. In subsequent years he largely abandoned poetry, until a visit in 2018 to North Calcutta to photograph the interiors of sweet shops led to a new volume, Sweet Shop. If St Cyril Road is about being and looking, Sweet Shop is about the taste of living. It was followed by the poems in Ramanujan (named after the great mathematician), which trace the way Chaudhuri’s life has been intertwined with various cities, as well as poems that serve as elegies for his parents.
This collection also has the essay “Interlude,” about Chaudhuri’s parents’ move to Bandra and his beginnings as a poet, a selection of songs, and some unpublished new poems.