Fresh after his English novel ‘Kalkatta’, a fictional memoir of a gigolo set in contemporary Kolkata, author Kunal Basu aims to pen a Bengali one by next year.
“My initial writings were in Bangla and I hope my next work will also be equally taken by the audience(like the English works),” Basu, who teaches at an institute under Oxford University since 1999, said.
About ‘Kalkatta’, which was launched in November last year, he said it has Kolkata as its background where so many people from different backgrounds come for succour.
“Kolkata is Manhattan of the East. In the US it is Mannhattan everybody heads to. Same happens in Kolkata’s case too ... Everytime a caste war breaks up in a neighbouring state or there is religious strife, people flock to Kolkata. Kolkata is the melting pot,” he said.
As he went through the alleys of the city for two years researching the book, Basu said he was struck by the relationship between the ‘bhadralok’ (the gentry) and the poor who live in the periphery of the city.
The genesis of the book was his meeting fashionable young men waiting on bikes in downtown Park Street and surrounding areas in the nights. “When I probed them I came to know some of them were gigolos.”
‘The Opium Clerk’ writer feels despite the proficiency of Bengalis in English there has not been total English fiction by any Bengali writer after Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who wrote ‘Rajmohan’s Wife’, which called for rise of Hindu nationalism to uproot British rule from the country.
“I think there had definitely been great litterateurs in Bengal all through...but they all wrote in Bengali. What we can see is Bengali writers did not explore English equally after Bankimchandra. This is my personal opinion,” he said.