Additional Book Information
Series: New York Review Books
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Finding the RagaAn Improvisation on Indian Music
Amit Chaudhuri, novelist, critic, and essayist, is also a musician, trained in the Indian classical vocal tradition but equally fluent as a guitarist and singer in the American folk music style, who has recorded his experimental compositions extensively and performed around the world. A turning point in his life took place when, as a lonely teenager living in a high-rise in Bombay, far from his family’s native Calcutta, he began, contrary to all his prior inclinations, to study Indian classical music. Finding the Raga chronicles that transformation and how it has continued to affect and transform not only how Chaudhuri listens to and makes music but how he listens to and thinks about the world at large. Offering a highly personal introduction to Indian music, the book is also a meditation on the differences between Indian and Western music and art-making as well as the ways they converge in a modernism that Chaudhuri reframes not as a twentieth-century Western art movement but as a fundamental mode of aesthetic response, at once immemorial and extraterritorial. Finding the Raga combines memoir, practical and cultural criticism, and philosophical reflection with the same individuality and flair that Chaudhuri demonstrates throughout a uniquely wide-ranging, challenging, and enthralling body of work.
On April 13, 2021, Amit Chaudhuri discussed Finding the Raga with author Ben Ratliff. Chaudhuri also performed two songs. This virtual event is part of New York Review Books’ ongoing series with Brooklyn’s Community Bookstore.
Supple, intricate and uncompromising, full of delicate observation and insight, Amit Chaudhuri’s Finding the Raga immerses us in the rigorous beauty and cosmology of Indian classical music. It is also a loving memoir about relationships and places, dedication and vocation.
Amit Chaudhuri excels in writing about music and its pleasure.
Engrossing . . . A deliberately digressive foray into an enduring yet slippery style of music.
A syncretic work that draws on a great variety of Western and Indian sources and genres, combines memoir and musicology, and reads like an essay . . . [Chaudhuri’s] chronicle, like a raga, is a wonderful exposition of becoming.
—Michael Autrey, Booklist
Although the raga has no equivalent, Chaudhuri attempts to contextualize it vis-á-vis various European traditions, and there is pleasure to be found in treating this text as a kind of listening guide. . . This work is meant to be a little loose, and Chaudhuri's braggadocious avuncular vibe—as opposed to a stern tone of assume authority—is disarmingly charming.