Thursday, January 8, 2015

#BookReview: Thackeray Mansion by Sankar, Sandipan Deb

On the jacket:

In this sequel to Chowringhee, the third instalment in the life and tribulations of the naïve and innocent young Shanker, he is once again out of a job and without a roof on his head. After much difficulty he finds a job as a manager in a grand but crumbling building in the posh area of the city: Thackeray Mansion on Scudder Street. The narrator directs his keen eye and sympathetic ear to tell captivating stories of those who live in the homes within a home of Thackeray Mansion and those who work in it. The mysterious disappearance of Philip sahib's wife, the hilarious monologues of the feisty Poppy Biswas and the grouchy Baradaprasanna, the seductive Sulekha Sen who morphs into the respectable Seema Chatterjee and the love of Dorothy Watts for Rabindranath Tagore: stories nestle within stories and the result is an astonishing novel filled with joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, despair and hope.


The first time I saw one of Sankar's books was when I was about 16, and my father was bed-ridden, fighting cancer. Next to his bed, in the ground floor room of my grandfather's Calcutta house, was a huge book shelf. One row in it had a series of Sankar's books. Me being me, one day I was looking at the books in the shelf, when my mother said how much my father loved to read Sankar. Instant love. I knew I wanted to read this author, all of him.

Years later, in Bombay, I happened to pick up Chowringhee. I had seen the movie and remembered it scene by scene. I lapped up the book. Calcutta, for me was always about meeting the family during the school, the city I had heard about in numerous stories from my mother. Chowringhee brought a lot of those stories alive.

Originally published as Gharer Moddhe Ghar in Bengali, the last of the trilogy of which Chowringhee was the second part. In Thackeray Mansion, Shankar, our protagonist is jobless and no place to live in. Calcutta is a character here, as it is in Sankar's stories. She will invoke every emotion possible, within the reader.

Thackeray Mansion is yet another attempt by Shankar to survive, sustain and find his ground in the city of Calcutta. Sankar is a brilliant writer, and each of his books have been brilliantly translated. An unkind, restless, impatient, harsh metropolis - Calcutta and Shankar's journey through the city as well as life. 

Rating: *****/5

[A personal read.]

1 comment:

  1. the title of the book suggested something else.. about someone in mumbai.. lol.. but then read the review.. u have got a nice blog dear... gonna read this one soon :)


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