ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta is the first book of Kushanava Choudhury. Born to scientist parents, who juggled between India and the USA, Kushanava grew up in Calcutta and New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton University, and went on to work as a reporter for The Statesman in Calcutta. He pursued a PhD in political theory from Yale University, before returning to Calcutta to write a book about the city.
The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta is the author’s tribute to his hometown, Calcutta (Kolkata). The book is a rich memoir of Calcutta, its rich culture and cuisine, festivals and culture, music and films, and above all, its people and their way of life. The book lays bare the very heart of the cultural capital of India, along with its inherent flaws and exceptional beauty.
The 215-page softcover is divided into four parts. The cover is colorful and is in perfect consonance with the theme of the book. The book starts with a prologue wherein the author provides a detailed account of his parents. He also explains how he moved between the two continents, his life in New Jersey, and his calling to get back to Calcutta.
Kushanava uses his personal experiences to slowly take you on a tour of the different parts of the city. The anecdotes presented in the book are funny, thoughtful, and engrossing. He takes the occasional detour to delve into the history of the city, which has undergone a lot of horrors ranging from the Great Bengal Famine, the Hindu-Muslim riots, and the Partition.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT THE EPIC CITY: THE WORLD ON THE STREETS OF CALCUTTA
The writing style is very appealing with an interesting blend of memoir and reportage. The personal touch throughout the narrative makes for an engaging read. When reading the book, even the most unimaginative readers may find themselves in the streets of Kolkata. The author’s representation of the colonial past and the chaotic present of the City of Joy makes this a must-read.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE EPIC CITY: THE WORLD ON THE STREETS OF CALCUTTA
The narrative tends to get too repetitive. The unnecessary repetition of certain words indicates that the choice of words could have been better. Furthermore, The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta gets too negative in certain parts, making many a reader lose interest in the plot.
The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta merits a respectable 3-star rating. The lucid writing style and the engaging narrative pique the readers’ interest. However, the repetitive phrases and recurrent typos dent the overall experience. The book is a weekend read if you love Kolkata and want to explore the city from a different point of view. It is also chronicles the city’s history, besides the many tragedies its people have suffered over its colonial past. That said, readers who are not familiar with Kolkata may find the plot a bit too wearisome at times.
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