Faber & Faber
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General & world history
Agastya Sen is the quintessential city boy raised in Delhi, and a civil administrator's son who has followed in his father's footsteps by opting to become a civil servant himself. His westernised and polished behaviour, and love for the English language have earned him the nickname of 'August' and sometimes even 'English', among his friends.
As part of his first training cum posting, he is sent to Madna, a tiny, obscure town deemed to be the hottest place in India. Madna and its people seem to be a far cry from his previous life of sophistication and class among the well bred city dwellers that he left behind in Delhi, and during his first few weeks there, he feels miserably out of place and perplexed at the ways of the Indian bureaucracy and administration.
Unmotivated with his surroundings and disinterested in his job at first, gradually, he finds himself getting involved in the scheme of things and observing the unique set of characters that comprise Madna such as, Srivastava the local district collector, and his wife, Sathe the cartoonist, and the police superintendent, to name a few.
Through the eyes of August, readers get to understand the functioning of Indian bureaucrats, the administrative trends at grass root levels within India, the sharp contrasts between the perspectives of the older and the younger generation, and the distinct rungs of hierarchy in Indian society such as the urban and the rural classes of people.
English, August : An Indian Story is a timeless and philosophical novel about August's humorous attempts at self discovery, and trying to fit in alien lands. The novel received favourable reviews. It was made into a film by the same name in 1994, starring Rahul Bose as August.
About Upamanyu Chatterjee
Born in Patna, Bihar, in 1959, Upamanyu Chatterjee is an author, short story writer, and civil servant from the IAS batch of 1983 in the Maharashtra Cadre.
He subsequently wrote The Last Burden, The Mammaries Of The Welfare State, Weight Loss, and his most recent novel Way To Go.
Considered one of the first few writers to present real India as seen in recent times, and offer keen insights on the Indian bureaucracy in his writings, Chatterjee, as experts suggest, with his dry sense of humour, ironic wit, understanding, and imagination has finally captured the often ignored urban Indian class, westernised in its outlook.
Recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2004, Chatterjee has been compared to literary greats like W. B. Yeats, Kafka, and Camus. He is currently serving in the Ministry of Defence as the Joint Secretary to the Government Of India