17 January, 2021

Sunrise: As Worlds Collide

Purity of prose married to a clear-eyed storytelling begets moodiness and mystery

Sunrise: As Worlds Collide

Reading Amitabha Bagchi’s third novel, set in Baltimore, one cannot help being remin­ded of two American paintings. The first is Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad (1925), and the other Charles Sheeler’s American Landscape (1930). Two very different works, no doubt, but between them they capture the march of an essentially dehumanised progress and the yearning for a fast disa­ppearing world. Progress—a slightly old-­fashioned word—manifests in this book in the form of plans to demolish and reb­uild a Baltimore neighbourhood where the characters have their homes. A group of friendly neighbours, in their own small ways, hope, plan and dream of stopping the juggernaut in its tracks.

‘Place’ in this novel is contested and This Place is all about the efforts of a few people to hold on to their little corner of the city. So Miss Lucy, the old black lady who plays soulful tunes on her organ, refuses to leave her old house and move into a new one—“I didn’t birth two children...



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