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Upamanyu Chatterjee

Upamanyu Chatterjee at a reading in New Delhi
Born 1959
Patna, Bihar, India
Occupation author
Alma mater St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Genres Novel

Upamanyu Chatterjee (born 1959) is an Indian Bengali author and administrator, notable for his work set in the milieu of the Indian Administrative Service, especially his novel English, August.

Born in Patna, Bihar, Chatterjee was educated at St. Xavier's School and St. Stephen's College, in Delhi. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1983.


Major Works

Chatterjee has written a handful of short stories of which "The Assassination of Indira Gandhi" and "Watching Them" are particularly noteworthy. His best-selling novel, English, August : An Indian story (subsequently made into a major film), was published in 1988 and has since been reprinted several times. A review in Punch described the book as "Beautifully written … English, August is a marvelously intelligent and entertaining novel, and especially for anyone curious about modern India". The novel follows Agastya Sen - a young westernized Indian civil servant whose imagination is dominated by women, literature and soft drugs. This vivid account of "real India" by the young officer posted to the small provincial town of Madna is "a funny, wryly observed account of Agastya Sen's year in the sticks", as described by a reviewer in The Observer.

His second novel, The Last Burden, appeared in 1993. This novel recreates life in an Indian family at the end of the twentieth century. The Mammaries of the Welfare State was published at the end of 2000 as a sequel to English, August. His latest novel, Weight Loss, a dark comedy, was published in 2006.

Anjana Sharma equates Upamanyu’s vision of humanity with W.B. Yeats. She writes, "Eighty years apart, cultures, civilisations, even craft and temperament apart, Yeats and Chatterjee share an identical vision of a de-centered, de-natured world." Dr. Mukul Dikshit opines that Chatterjee has, for the first time, focussed on a "new class" of Westernised Urban Indians that was hitherto ignored in the Regional as well as the English Fiction of India. He declares that Chatterjee's imagination is as fertile as Kafka’s; his tragic sense is as keen as Camus’s; his understanding of the absurd-comic (farce) in life is at par with Milan Kundera and Saul Bellow.


Officier des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters), by the French Government


Name Publisher ISBN Publishing date Notes
English, August : An Indian story Faber & Faber,

Rupa & Co,

NYRB Classics

Hardback: ISBN 0-571-15101-9

Paperback: ISBN 0-14-027811-7

Reprint: ISBN 1-59017-179-9

First published June 1988.

Reprint by NYRB Classics 2006

Hailed as the definitive urban Indian coming-of-age novel
The Last Burden Faber & Faber Paperback: ISBN 0-571-17155-9 November 17, 1994
The Mammaries of the Welfare State Viking ISBN 0-670-87934-7 2000 Sequel to English August
Weight Loss Penguin Books India Paperback: ISBN 0-670-05862-9 February 28, 2006
Way to Go Penguin Books India Hardback: ISBN 0-670-08352-7 February 15, 2010 Sequel to The Last Burden


James Wood, The Guardian, August 17, 1993

Rambing at fifty, Upamanyu Chatterjee, India Today, August 18, 1997

Soumya Bhattacharya, The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2001

Vijay Nambisan, The Hindu, April 1, 2001

Michael Dirda, The Washington Post, April 23, 2006

'English, August: An Indian Story,' by Upamanyu Chatterjee, Book Review, The New York Times, July 2, 2006

Susan Cunningham, Review of The Last Burden by Upamanyu Chatterjee, Asian Literature, March 19, 2009

External links

Upamanyu Chatterjee's books at the complete review

See also



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