Archive for May 9th, 2012

Letter from a Photographer

May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (2)




[The photographs in this post were taken by Krunal Palande: he sent them to me after I replied to this letter. The photographs are posted here with Krunal’s permission.]





Dear Amitav,
I’d been planning to write a letter to you for quite a while but either I was being too lazy or I just couldn’t think of exactly what to write, but then I realized that it is always better to speak your mind than keeping it shut.
I can now definitely start this letter by saying I am your big fan and I’ve read all your novels (though I am yet to read your non-fiction books and having recently developed interest in reading non-fiction, I guess that day is not far when I’d have read all your books).
Well I hope I’m not boasting and in any case I’d want you to treat me as just another fanboy.
I also had the honour to meet and talk to you when you came down to Mumbai for the launch of “River of Smoke” at the Trident.
I picked up The Hungry Tide back in 2008 and I found it so enthralling, I am an avid reader and having read so many books I could easily say I’d never quite read a book like The Hungry Tide. It was probably the first ever multi-protagonists book that I had read.
What I found so fascinating about The Hungry Tide was that you never refrained from getting into details which many authors would generally avoid so as to not hinder the flow of the story. I loved these details, by the time I finished reading The Hungry Tide I knew so much about the Irrawaddy dolphins, the deadly Bengal tigers and the The Morichjhanpi massacre. And of course I went about asking all my Bengali friends about Bon bibi, unfortunately most of my Bengali friends are Calcuttans and none of them had even heard about it.
The next book I picked up was The Calcutta Chromosome and to tell you the truth I had never in my life read such a Fantastical Science Fiction novel. Science Fiction to our generation is mostly Space and Aliens and amidst such culture reading The Calcutta Chromosome was very refreshing and I could easily say that The Calcutta Chromosome is my favourite Sci-Fi book after H G Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau. Well I wouldn’t go in details with each of your books because I like every one of them for some or other reason.
But speaking of Science Fiction, they say books are the best time travelling machines; I must say that this phrase suits perfectly to all your novels. And I must definitely thank you for taking me to such places I could never even imagine, be it the 19th century Mandalay where Rajkumar worked at the food-stall or Deeti’s house on the outskirts of Ghazipur or the Thirteen Factories area in Canton.

I hope I have kept you engaged in this letter so far, and if I successfully have, then let me quickly ask you a question.  Why is it that you have never written a book with a single protagonist? It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact I love them, and it gives them this epic feel, but I’m just curious to know the reason why you refrain from using a single protagonist.

I would not agree if you reply saying The Circle of Reason or The Shadow Lines had single protagonists. Of course the stories revolved around the characters of Alu and the Narrator in The Circle of Reason and The Shadow Lines respectively but they certainly weren’t the only protagonists, for that matter even Bahram Modi wasn’t the only protagonist in River of Smoke.

Okay now that I’ve hopefully reached the end of this letter; I’d like to mention a few moments that I really enjoyed in your books and I often cherish them.
  •  Phulboni’s experience at the Renupur Station in The Calcutta Chromosome. The most thrilling piece I’ve ever read.
  •       Tha’mma’s visit to Jethamoshai in Dhaka in The Shadow Lines. Oh and I forgot to mention, The Shadow Lines is my most favorite book written by you.
  •       Zachary looking at Deeti’s face (and her beautiful eyes) at the end of Sea of Poppies. It’s such a wonderful, magical moment.
  •       Dinu taking Alison’s pictures in the wilderness near Morningside in The Glass Palace. Being a photographer, I quite loved this moment and I also quite admired your knowledge in Photography too.






Well there are so many things from your novels that I have always cherished. The chrestomathy, the history, the characters and so on, I’d like to thank you for each and every one of these things that are a part of my life now and I hope to see lot more.
Also I’m eagerly awaiting the final part of the Ibis trilogy.
Warm Regards,
Krunal Palande

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