26 July, 2021


It is a novel I would recommend to all university students, at least of my generation; it ought to become cult at DU.


The western trend to define by regal reference seems to have caught on in Indian publishing too. ‘Paul Schrader meets Nabokov’, claims the blurb of Day Scholar. Why not ‘R.K. Narayan meets Upamanyu Chatterjee’? Does that sound too humble, being ‘desi’? The combinations—regal or humble—are endless, and all of them do less than justice to Siddharth Chowdhury.

As in  , Chowdhury has worked out a style and tone that is recognisably his own. He does not need the crutches of reference, unless it is to state that his novels belong to a tradition of storytelling that owes more to R.K. Narayan than to Raja Rao, Salman Rushdie or Amitav Ghosh. They are constructed on a small canvas, move at a leisurely, slightly idiosyncratic pace, and are told with restrained humour and compassion.

Day Scholar is narrated by the protagonist, Hriday Thakur, a Bengali from Bihar, who arrives in the North Campus of Delhi University (DU), and through a series of criminal, political and...

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