Monday 10 June 2024

A Strange and Sublime Address

Finished June 4
A Strange and Sublime Address by Amit Chaudhuri

This novel is narrated by ten-year-old Sandeep, an only child who lives in Bombay (Mumbai) in an apartment with his parents. They go on regular visits to extended family in Calcutta. The novel covers two visits, one in summer and one in winter. His family usually stays in the house of a family on his mother's side, where he has two cousins of a similar age Abhi and Babla. 
Sandeep is a child who observes closely what is happening and his view is an innocent one that lets us see what is actually happening. He observes his cousins, his aunt and uncles, the servants, and even the neighbours closely, catching small actions and looks. The language here is full of description and evokes a sense of happiness and comfort, surrounded by those he loves. It also uses the natural terms used by a real family, with endearments and nicknames, and words that evoke the place and time of the setting. 
This was the author's first novel, originally published in 1991, and, in the foreword, is compared to other novels narrated by youthful observant characters.
I loved immersing myself in this world, of food, comfort, and family, feeling life slow down and appreciated in the small things that happen, from bathing to eating to resting. The excursions, both to other family members and for just a thing to do on a weekend afternoon are also slow and relaxing. This novel depicts those small moments in life that we often don't take the time to appreciate. 
Definitely one of my favourites of this year's reading. A lovely novel. 

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