AUTHOR: INDRANIL BANERJIE
PUBLISHER: AMAZON KDP
The transition phase be it in that of the life of a person, place or nation is no roller-coaster ride. There are sure to be moments of anxiety. But how one overcomes them is really what matters. The story within the cover justifies the title i.e. ‘Age of Anxiety’.
Goodreads Blurb- India has been Independent for just about two decades when a young Bengali boy, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, takes his place within the portals of an ancient school that continues to glorify its colonial past.
India is changing and the city that was once the proud capital of a vast Colonial empire is in rapid decline but the school holds out, white and resplendent amidst the surrounding gloom and depredation.
Sarat Chandra, cut off from his familiar world, is thrown together with a bunch of boys who hail from diverse backgrounds – Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Armenians and Muslims. Within the school’s portals he must adapt and conform to its ancient traditions. He finds a new name, makes friends and discovers the first flush of romance but struggles to come to terms with his family’s precarious financial situation, which fuels his inherent anxiety.
Much like Sarat Chandra, the city too is grappling to come of age. Mired in post-Independence politics and economic decline, anxiety and gloom has spread through the populace jostling for space in an increasingly crowded and unrelenting city. The elite have taken over the mansions left behind by the colonialists while the poor throng the pavements and empty spaces.
Will Sarat Chandra find his place in the city or is he forever doomed to be the outsider, the ‘mofussil’ boy with an identity crisis?
This is a story about a generation numbed by the anxiety of the Sixties and the Seventies, about music dying in the bars, entire populations quietly fleeing the city and yesteryear’s generation fortifying themselves within anachronistic colonial institutions to hold out against change.
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The story-line: Interesting, insightful and relatable, the story takes one especially those that were around in the 1960s, down memory lane. The period and those living in the India of those times have been portrayed to perfection. The emotions of Sarto and his buddies, parents as well as other characters who find a place in the story are penned beautifully. One can easily experience their joys, their sorrows and frustrations as the story proceeds. In fact one can feel the story unfold before one’s eyes. The story has its fair measure of humour too. In fact there are places where I could not help laughing out loud.
While reading the book I was transported to my childhood, the grand European style building that housed my school and my school-days. The mention of ‘chooran’ brought a smile on my face. It reminded me of the ‘chooran-wala’ who was a permanent feature outside the school gate during recess time.
Characterization: Bang on! Each minute detail is presented with perfection making the characters come live before one’s eyes.
Language: Crisp and lucid. The author’s strong grip on the language is reflected in each word, each sentence thus adding value to the book.
Pace: Perfect. There was not a single moment when I felt I’d like to take a break.
Editing: Flawed at places. Though not major, I thought I’d make a mention so that the author could correct them before bringing out the next edition which I’m sure he will have to very soon given the plus points of the book.
A truly wonderful and insightful read, ‘Age of Anxiety’ definitely earns a 5 on a scale of 5.
I’d like to thank Author Adite Banerji for having sent me this book in return for an unbiased review.
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