Harper Collins Pulisher
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Popular medicine & health
Striking the right chords with the heart of a sentimentalist, this debut novel by Bunny Suraiya revolves around the themes of home, identity, and a sense of loss. Set in the backdrop of a partitioned India, the novel attempts to describe Calcutta's bygone era, a city that the author herself knew and grew up in. The protagonists in the book struggle to hold on to what remains of the city, but never quite succeed in their effort. The book talks of a time when Jews, Armenians, Anglo-Indians, and Muslims inhabited the city and made it a mosaic of cultural identities, something that is a thing of the past in modern-day Kolkata.
The plot of the story revolves around an Anglo-Indian family, the Ryans, that finds itself at odds in an altered society where the 'White Man' is no longer the voice of authority. Although a fairly happy family, they all view their present situation differently. Robert Ryan, a senior executive, desires to reside in Britain, where he believes that he'd feel more 'at home', now that the British Raj has been toppled. His wife, Grace, has a conflicting view, and is unsure of leaving her comfortable life in India. Their two daughters, Paddy and Shirley, take to their life in India well, as the readers witness them go through various changes in their interpersonal relationships.
The book also showcases life in Calcutta from the perspectives of Ayah and Apurru, helpers of the Ryan family, who long to go back to their homes in East Pakistan.
Picking at the shreds of her own memories of a life she lived in the talked-about city, Bunny Suraiya paints a breathtaking image of Calcutta, a city that's filled with clubs with sprung wooden dance floors, elegant eateries, and once-gracious promenades. It is a delightful read that moves at a leisurely pace. First published in the year 2011, Bunny Suraiya's debut novel met with fairly positive responses right after its publication.
About Bunny Suraiya
A writer and editor, Bunny Suraiya writes for the only wine magazine in India, Sommelier India. She has had an award-winning career in the field of advertising too.
Calcutta Exile is Bunny Suraiya's only novel till date.
Bunny Suraiya's writing is fresh, chiseled, and sentimental. She manages to pack layers of meaning and emotion in writing, mainly due to her love for the city that serves as the setting of her first novel.
Bunny Suraiya is a newspaper columnist. Her first short story was published by Khushwant Singh in Illustrated Weekly. She lives with her husband Jug Suraiya, a prominent journalist, writer, and columnist, and their dog Mili, in Gurgaon.