Born On: 19 December, 1959
Born In: Patna, Bihar
Career: Officer, Indian Administrative Service, Author
Upamanyu Chatterjee, best remembered for his debut novel 'English, August: An Indian Story' is one of the powerful and emerging voices amongst India's post colonial literary stalwarts. His novels are written in a humorous style and are intended to go beyond the basic concept of comedy. He defied conventional traditions and created a niche for himself. Through his works, one can see his protests against the austere world of the Indian Administrative System. Most of his novels focus on the life of a young westernized diplomat who is posted in a non-descript town. The characteristics of his novels have a wry sense of humour, amazing language and an eye to portray the life of middle-class India. The satirical aspect of his novels sometimes shocks readers. However, there are critics who are of the view that he has not achieved the success which was promised by with the launch of his debut novel.
Upamanyu Chatterjee was born on 19th, December 1959 in Patna, Bihar. He was the son of Sudhir Ranjan Chatterjee. He received his education from St. Xavier's School and St. Stephen's College in Delhi. While studying in high School, Chatterjee penned a play, the story which he adopted from a Hitchcock drama, 'Dilemma'. The drama was not published, but won the school drama competition in spite of it caricaturing the school rules and regulations. After finishing his Master's in English Literature from the Delhi University, Chatterjee joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1983. His professional career not only marked the beginning of his literary career, but also was the source from which he created his characters. In 1990, Chatterjee lived as Writer in Residence at the University of Kent, U.K. In 1998, he was appointed as the Director (Languages) in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
Upamanyu Chatterjee has written a few short stories of which 'The Assassination of Indira Gandhi' and 'Watching Them' are worth mentioning. Since then, he has written five novels, of which all of them have received critical and political support in spite of the fact that the novels picture the legal systems in a satirical manner.
In 1988, his first and bestselling novel, 'English, August: An Indian Story' was published. It was an extremely well-written novel which tells the story of Agastya Sen, a westernized Indian whose thoughts are dominated by women, literature and soft drugs. Through the novel, he portrays some serious issues that revolve around the 'urban educated youth' and pictures a class of 'westernized people' who are otherwise unnoticed in regional and English fictional work. Since the publication of the novel, it has been reprinted several times and the novel is an apt choice for those who are keen on knowing more about modern India. The story was made into a film with the same name in 1994.
In 1993, his second novel, 'The Last Burden' was published which portrays life in an Indian family at the end of twentieth century. The novel is written in a rich and powerful language and provides a stunning and accurate depiction of the overwhelming burden of family ties. In 2000, 'The Mammaries of the Welfare State' was published as an apt sequel to 'English August'. The novel is described by many as 'a master work of satire' by a prominent writer at the pinnacle of his powers. Chatterjee takes the reader through the corridors of Indian bureaucracy with gory sarcasm and leaves no opportunity to mock the entire system. The novel won the Sahitya Academy Award in 2004. In 2006, Chatterjee's fourth novel 'Weight Loss' which is a dark comedy was published. The novel is about the strange life of Bhola who is a sexual deviant and whose attitude to people around him depends upon their lust worthiness. His genius for dark humor is really convincing in this novel. In 2010, his latest novel 'Way to Go' was published as a sequel to 'The Last Burden'. The novel is accepted as well written and is a pleasure to read. It is suitable for anyone who wants to broaden their perspective on life and enjoy themselves in the procedure.
Contribution to Literature
A bureaucrat by profession, Upamanyu Chatterjee penned two short stories and five novels. The short stories include 'The Assassination of Indira Gandhi' and 'Watching Them' and novels include 'English, August: An Indian Story' (1988), 'The Last Burden' (1993), 'The Mammaries of the Welfare State'(2000), Weight Loss' (2006) and 'Way to Go' (2010).
Upamanyu Chatterjee based his novels on the Indian Administrative System, which he depicted with hilarious sarcasm. The humour, sometimes, placed the reader in a state of shock as the writer went to an extent which his Indian contemporaries did not dare to go to. Through his works, he dared to match the sensibility which one uncovers only in modern European novels.
Awards and Accolades
Sahitya Academy Award, 2004
Order of Officier des Arts et des Lettres, French Government, 2008
1959: Born in Patna, Bihar.
1983: Joined the Indian Administrative Service.
1988: First novel, 'English, August: An Indian Story' was published.
1990: Lived as Writer in Residence at University of Kent, U.K.
1993: Second novel, 'The Last Burden' was published.
1998: Appointed as the Director (Languages) in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
2000: Third novel 'The Mammaries of the Welfare State' was published as a sequel to his first novel 'English, August: An Indian Story'.
2004: Was honoured with the Sahitya Academy Award for the novel 'The Mammaries of the Welfare State'.
2006: Chatterjee's fourth novel 'Weight Loss' was published.
2008: Was conferred Order of Officier des Arts et des Lettres by French Government for his contribution to modern literature.
2010: Latest novel 'Way to Go' was published as a sequel to 'The Last Burden'.