“Chowringhee” is the English translation of a Bengali novel with the same name. The Bengali version was released way back in 1962, though it took more than 40 years for the English translation to actually happen. The story of how this English translation finally got released as a book is in itself a good story, which made me even more curious about the book. Bengali writers hardly dissappoint me and “Sankar”, the author of Chowringhee is no exception. I liked the simplicity of the novel and narration. I want to read more of Mani Sankar Mukherjee alias Sankar now 🙂
“Chowringhee” is the story of life at “Hotel Shahjahan”, a famous hotel in Kolkata. Sankar is a new recruit in to this hotel. The story is about various people in the life of Sankar, life at Shahjahan, relationships and has a bit of history too. Everyone has several stories to say. Everybody is a world in themselves. These several worlds exist in co-relation with one another, bound by the threads of relationships. In the same way, every place has some history associated with it and will be having several stories to say. However, lifeless as it is, it remains a mute witness to everything that happens around it. It speaks through those people who have long standing association with it. I would prefer to call that kind of people historians too. Indeed, they are the only sources of unwritten history, insignificant and inconsequential in a more worldly sense.
Narration was very gripping. Sata Bose, Karabi Guha, Sujatha, Marco, Byron, Rosie, Connie, Lambretta, Anindo, Mrs Prakarshi etc – all these characters came in to life in front of me as I progressed through the novel. I am still able to visualize some scenes, as I think of any one of the characters. All the characters were so full of life to me that, I was affected when Karabi died, when fate played diabolically with Sata Bose, when I “saw” Connie and Lambretta’s story-every significant event in the plot had some effect on me. I think I need not say more words in its praise. If its giving the reader a visual-feel to this extent, I don’t think anymore more needs to be expected from a well-written novel.
Its simple to the core and its about normal lives. Thats the best pat of it. Yeah, surely you can get enough insights in to the lives of Hotel staff too. You can get an idea of what lives of hotel staff will be like. Translation was good and pleasing to read. Arunava Sinha did a great job in translating the feelings not just in to English…but to the non-Bengali readers too 🙂
Translator: Arunava Sinha
Published in : 2007
Cost: Rs 295/-
Penguin India page for the book here.