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English, August: An Indian Story Paperback – 3 Jul 1989

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New Ed edition (3 July 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571153194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571153190
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,006,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Chatterjee's slacker bildungsroman, creates a comic, entertaining portrayal of an administrator's life in the sticks." --Publisher's Weekly
"This beautifully written book strikes a nifty balance among satiric comedy, pointed social commentary and penetrating characterization. Widely considered India's Catcher in the Rye, it also echoes both R.K. Narayan's Malgudi novels and J.P. Donleavy's classic portrayal of rampant, unrepentant maleness, The Ginger Man.
Excellent stuff. Let's have Chatterjee's other novels, please."--Kirkus Reviews
"Originally published in 1988, Chatterjee's witty and lyrical first novel became a best seller in his native India. It features young Agastya ("August") Sen, who has joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and is sent to Madna, famed for being the hottest small town in India. There, the fairly privileged August, who grew up in Delhi speaking English, experiences as much cultural shock as any non-Indian. The novel's tension, humor, and misery display when his slacker, Westernized behavior clashes with expectations in this richly diverse but truly Indian town. Not the least of his challenges is coming to terms with the piles of paperwork and his own lack of ambition. August alleviates his unhappiness with marijuana use and almost habitual masturbation but eventually comes to terms with his decision to enter the IAS. Chatterjee skillfully develops both Madna and the IAS so that they also evolve into major characters, adding to this novel's unique texture. Chatterjee has already written a sequel, The Mammaries of the Welfare State, and Dev Benegal made English, August into a film in 1994. It is hard to believe that it has taken this book solong to reach American readers, but once they finish it, they will agree it was well worth the wait. A contribution not just to Indian literature but to world literature; highly recommended.--Library Journal (**Starred Review**)

An "affectionate yet unsparing slacker view of modern IndiaElikened to John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" and J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" Unlike many of the other Indian writers we read these days, Chatterjee has remained in India...He's a writer worth discovering, and "English, August" is the place to start."-Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post"
"This is a very funny novel, but a humane one as well."-Katherine Powers, "The Boston Globe"
"Chatterjee offers...a funny, intimate portrait of one person puzzling over his place in the world..."-Julia Hanna, "The Boston Phoenix"
A "witty and lyrical first novel...it is hard to believe that it has taken this book so long to reach American readers, but once they finish it, they will agree it was well worth the wait. A contribution not just to Indian literature but to world literature; highly recommended."-"Library Journal" * Stared Review
""English, August" is one of the most important novels in Indian writing in English, but not for the usual reasons. Indeed, it's at war with 'importance, ' and is one of the few Indian English novels in the last two decades genuinely, and wonderfully, impelled by irreverence and aimlessness. It's this acutely intelligent conflation of self-discovery with the puncturing of solemnity that makes this book not only a significant work, but a much-loved one." -Amit Chaudhuri
"A slacker seeks career success and sexual fulfillment in Chatterjee's 1988 first novel, since proclaimed a contemporary Indian classic...This beautifully written book strikes a nifty balance among satiric comedy, pointed social commentary and penetrating characterization. Widely considered India's "Catcher in the Rye," it also echoes both R.K. Narayan's Malgudi novels and J.P. Donleavy's classic portrayal of rampant, unrepentant maleness, "The Ginger Man."..Excellent stuff. Let's have Chatterjee's other novels, please." -"Kirkus Reviews"
"The 'Indianest' novel in English that I know of. Utterly uncompromised, wildly funny, and a revelation of everyday life in modern India." -- Suketu Mehta
..".Chatterjee, himself an IAS officer, creates a comic, entertaining portrayal of an administrator's life in the sticks." -"Publishers Weekly"
..".a remarkably mature first novel" -"The Times Literary Supplement"
"There's a popular conception that Indian fiction in English hit the road to big time with Upamanyu Chatterjee's "English, August" in 1988. The irreverent language, the wry humour and the immediately identifiable situations struck a chord with a generation of Indians which was looking for its own voice and found it in Agastya Sen." - "The Sunday Express"
"[an] elegant and gently mischievous satire" -"The London Observer"
"By the highest serio-comic standards, this novel marks the debut of an extraordinarily promising talent." --"The Observer"
"Beautifully written..."English, August" is a marvelously intelligent and entertaining novel, and especially for anyone curious about modern India." "-Punch "
"A jazzy, baggy, hyperbolic, comic and crazy clamour of voices which...brings a breath of fresh talent to Indian fiction." -"Glasgow Herald"
..".when New York Review Books Classics publishes Upamanyu Chatterjee's 1988 debut novel, "English, August," for the first time in the U.S., Americans will finally have the chance to be in on what readers in England and India have known for years: that the great outpouring of Indian lit over the past decade and a half owes as much to this irreverent, acid-witted book as it does to Salman Rushdie's magnum opus, "Midnight's Children."..A best-seller in India (and later a hit film), English, August struck a chord with a generation of young writers wrestling with the messy sprawl of modern South Asia..."English, August" is more than a satire. It's also a novel with resonating concerns about the meaning of maturity in the modern era. ...American readers should identify with the brainy, sarcastic and slightly confused protagonist of "English, August" as he struggles to find a purpose in a rapidly changing world."-"Time Out New York"

An affectionate yet unsparing slacker view of modern IndiaElikened to John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" and J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" Unlike many of the other Indian writers we read these days, Chatterjee has remained in India...He's a writer worth discovering, and "English, August" is the place to start. Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post"
This is a very funny novel, but a humane one as well. Katherine Powers, "The Boston Globe"
Chatterjee offers a funny, intimate portrait of one person puzzling over his place in the world Julia Hanna, "The Boston Phoenix"
A witty and lyrical first novel it is hard to believe that it has taken this book so long to reach American readers, but once they finish it, they will agree it was well worth the wait. A contribution not just to Indian literature but to world literature; highly recommended. "Library Journal" * Stared Review
"English, August" is one of the most important novels in Indian writing in English, but not for the usual reasons. Indeed, it s at war with importance, and is one of the few Indian English novels in the last two decades genuinely, and wonderfully, impelled by irreverence and aimlessness. It s this acutely intelligent conflation of self-discovery with the puncturing of solemnity that makes this book not only a significant work, but a much-loved one. Amit Chaudhuri
A slacker seeks career success and sexual fulfillment in Chatterjee's 1988 first novel, since proclaimed a contemporary Indian classic This beautifully written book strikes a nifty balance among satiric comedy, pointed social commentary and penetrating characterization. Widely considered India's "Catcher in the Rye," it also echoes both R.K. Narayan's Malgudi novels and J.P. Donleavy's classic portrayal of rampant, unrepentant maleness, "The Ginger Man" Excellent stuff. Let's have Chatterjee's other novels, please. "Kirkus Reviews"
The Indianest novel in English that I know of. Utterly uncompromised, wildly funny, and a revelation of everyday life in modern India. Suketu Mehta
Chatterjee, himself an IAS officer, creates a comic, entertaining portrayal of an administrator's life in the sticks. "Publishers Weekly"
a remarkably mature first novel "The Times Literary Supplement"
"There's a popular conception that Indian fiction in English hit the road to big time with Upamanyu Chatterjee's "English, August" in 1988. The irreverent language, the wry humour and the immediately identifiable situations struck a chord with a generation of Indians which was looking for its own voice and found it in Agastya Sen." "The Sunday Express"
[an] elegant and gently mischievous satire "The London Observer"
By the highest serio-comic standards, this novel marks the debut of an extraordinarily promising talent. "The Observer"
Beautifully written "English, August" is a marvelously intelligent and entertaining novel, and especially for anyone curious about modern India. " Punch "
A jazzy, baggy, hyperbolic, comic and crazy clamour of voices which brings a breath of fresh talent to Indian fiction. "Glasgow Herald"
when New York Review Books Classics publishes Upamanyu Chatterjee s 1988 debut novel, "English, August," for the first time in the U.S., Americans will finally have the chance to be in on what readers in England and India have known for years: that the great outpouring of Indian lit over the past decade and a half owes as much to this irreverent, acid-witted book as it does to Salman Rushdie s magnum opus, "Midnight s Children" A best-seller in India (and later a hit film), English, August struck a chord with a generation of young writers wrestling with the messy sprawl of modern South Asia "English, August" is more than a satire. It s also a novel with resonating concerns about the meaning of maturity in the modern era. American readers should identify with the brainy, sarcastic and slightly confused protagonist of "English, August" as he struggles to find a purpose in a rapidly changing world. "Time Out New York"" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in India, UPAMANYU CHATTERJEE attended St. Stephen s College in Delhi. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1983, later moving to the United Kingdom to serve as the Writer in Residence at the University of Kent. A writer of short stories and novels, he was appointed Director of Languages in the Ministry of Human Resource Development for the Indian government.
AKHIL SHARMA was born in Delhi, India. He grew up in Edison, New Jersey. His stories have appeared in the "Best American Short Stories" anthology, the "O. Henry Award Winners" anthology, "The Atlantic Monthly, "and "The New Yorker." He is a winner of "The Voice" "Literary Supplement" s Year 2000 "Writers on the Verge" Award." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The descent from the exalted to the obescene makes you laugh out loud ... quotes from "The Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius and a description of turds falling into a commode, all in the span of two sentences!!!
This book is a must read, especially when you are into your first job. Every evening I used to come home from work, read a page, replace the characters with people from the office, and laugh myself to sleep.
The description of an Indian small town is brutally honest. Feels nice to read an Indian writer who doesnt glorify what is essentially miserable. He just says it as it is - no apologies, no saving grace, no spiritual side to it.
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Upmanyu's English, August is the first serious attempt of an Indian author which dares to match the sensibility that one finds in the modern European Novel. His portrayal of the plight of the "Urban Educated Youth" ('Elite')-- the predicaments of the "western types" in India -- is a very relevant issue. In English, August Chatterjee portrays "a new class" of westernised people who are on the verge of becoming a class, which was hitherto ignored in the regional and the English Fiction of India.Upamanyu's "Urban Elite" must not be confused with the American Materialist class -- the Urban Elite is a class of people (like Agastya Sen, Dhrubo etc.)who have "Classical Western Sensibilities".Upamanyu is a torch bearer of this very class. Upamanyu has been ourightly rejected as a writer of scatology, however, this is not true. The element of perverted sex and obscenity is never glorified by him, instead, he regards it as a malady. Also there is a comic side of sexuality (as Milan Kundera comments in "The Art of the Novel").
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Brilliant!! Probably the best ever contemporary novel from the Indian subcontinent ( and that includes Ms A Roy) Unpretentious, cynical, funny, tragic, Mr Chatterjee tells the tale of a young Indian beureaucrat from an urban Indian milieu posted to an obscure Indian village. A foreigner in his own country although still part of it. Stoned to his back teeth he finds that sometimes in India, keeping up appearences IS the job done Existentialist questions are as important as ' when should I have my next joint?.' Holden Caulfield seems entirely sane compared to Agastya Sen................ Read it.
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This book, written in English, was published in 1988 and was the author's first novel. In it, a well-educated, well-connected young man from Calcutta took up a post in a provincial backwater somewhere in the middle of India, just after joining the Indian civil service. The town was known mainly for having the nation's hottest weather.

The man, Agastya, nicknamed August, was Westernized and urbanized. He'd taken the post impulsively to gain a new perspective on his country. But soon he grew stupefied from the heat, the boredom of the daily routine and his self-important superiors, the bad food, too much pot and the lack of available women. Because of his education and background -- English lit major at college, Westernization, big-city origins -- he felt like an outsider. He sought comfort from his tapes of Tagore and Ella Fitzgerald, and solace in the Bhagavad Gita and Marcus Aurelius.

The story was written in the third person, from his point of view. It recorded mainly the daily round of activities, the characters he met, and his restlessness. In the course of the book, he observed various paths that people around him had taken: throwing themselves into administrative routine; facing life with mockery; drinking, getting stoned or other debaucheries; devoting themselves selflessly to others, or engaging in revolutionary agitation like the local Naxalites. Or, like his college friends in Delhi, beginning lucrative careers in the private sector as bankers or accountants. But at the book's end, after achieving a bit of perspective, he seemed still unsure of the path to take.

As the novel progressed, I found him very self-involved, cynical, with little compassion for others.
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