29 July, 2021


Fashionably racy, it is nevertheless not superficial.


Following a global trend, Indian bookshops are overflowing with chick lit and, let’s say, chuck lit. Bridget Jones and budgetary bones—the ailing international publishing industry—seem to have left their mark on Indian writing too. If you are a young writer, you can hardly ignore these developments. You are forced to adopt a chatty, on-the-ball style, then try to do what you can with, or despite, it.

In Balloonists, Rajorshi Chakraborti does quite a bit with and despite it. Fashionably racy, it is nevertheless not superficial. Dev, a British-Asian writer in London, is informed by his (current live-in) girlfriend that she’s pregnant. This launches the novel precisely, setting the context, pointing into the narrative, as is evident from the first sentence: “Upon learning of my girlfriend’s missed period and the subsequent result of a home-pregnancy test, my way of absorbing the information was to leave London without warning to visit a ninety-something-year-old lady in Munich....” The old...

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