in Review

‘Anatomy of Life’ by Devdan Chaudhuri

Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
Language: English
ISBN: 9789382616306
Price: INR 350
Pages: 276

Narratives are rare. Rarer are good narratives. ‘Anatomy of life’, the debut novel of Devdan Chaudhuri, was nominated for Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013. That certainly speaks a lot about it. Apprehensive as always, this book made my decision to take it up look worthy. It turned out to be a good read.

The novel is about a poet – yes, you read it right – the author created a character that can be anyone – an allegory. There is this allegorical approach to creating characters, as visible in few cases. The strong narratives with superlative descriptions of emotions like happiness, depression, confusion – all are mixed up effortlessly into a smooth concoction throughout the book.

AnatomyOfLifeMoving on in life has never been easy for anyone – the poet tried the same when he moved to a new city with his recently divorced mother. He was just sixteen at that time and the world looked all the more bleak and dreary with all kinds of negativity seemingly floating around him superfluously. Where he wanted a new beginning, he kept on getting ghosts of the past. When he met the pianist, he wooed her, slept his way to her heart and just when he thought he found out some respite from his restlessness,

“… but only till his climax, after which a strange emptiness surfaced within him. He didn’t feel any need to remain with the pianist. His mind swayed to other things and his body displayed signs of restlessness. He hurried away citing excuses …”

Then comes a time when all of us get the ultimate respite in things that were always there, when we looked for something else, somewhere. Poetry never left the poet. Painting never leaves the painter – even in his deathbed.

“His last verse was granted to him –
At the end of all things,
all is not sadness,
a new journey will only begin,
to know what lies beyond,
dreamless sleep or another awakening!
And the truth of the other shore,
will finally, reveal its secret.”

Anatomy of life’ by Devdan Chaudhuri is not the kind of book you take up for a lazy Sunday afternoon read, or not the kind of book you want to breeze through during the next train journey somewhere. It’s the kind of book when you start your journey to nowhere – when there is no destination in your mind, and your mindlessness ends up characterising your mindfulness.

Anatomy of life’ is certainly not what happens when an economist decides to write a book, like every other person does these days. It has all the signs of a mature work of writing from a seasoned author. That it is the debut novel of the author makes it more praiseworthy.

Rating: 8/10

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