Thoughts, wisdom, hope, desires and expressions, all add up to become a life and when you read those thoughts, it give a glimpse of a life lived and cherished. Recently I had read the sublime memoir Age of Anxiety. This is an effort to know the person who wrote that he is human much like us; flawed, fantastic and funny – Indranil Banerjie.
The name of the book was a big factor in my reading it as I found it to be a celebration of an individual who shares his individuality and imperfection with us. Today I am honored to welcome Indranil to my blog.
1. What has been your motivation for writing this book Age of Anxiety? Do you dabble in any other form of writing?
I have been writing since I was 21, first as a journalist and then as a researcher on national security issues. The book was something else entirely; it had nothing to do with my journalism or other work. I was struck by something Carlos Castaneda once told his followers. He said that everyone must write down one’s past and this was one way to get beyond it.
2. The cover is worth a thousand words? Did you choose the cover or was it designed by someone else?
The cover was mine – I took the photograph while walking the streets of Kolkata many decades after leaving it.
3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?Since the book is a Memoir, how much of the book is fact and how much fiction?
There is no message really except the book is all about coming to terms with one’s fundamental condition. Albert Camus wrote “Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined.” One was undermined from the start and that’s what the book is all about. Much of it is biographical but so mixed with fiction that today even I can’t tell between the two!
4. What inspires you to write and do you have a writing routine?
As a child I wrote long incomplete and entirely senseless pieces that I pressed upon my irritated and often nonplussed elders. The habit has persisted but I cannot get down to an unwavering routine.
5. Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative.
· I recently grew a beard; people said it made me look wise; strange that wisdom has eluded me all along.
· I am beginning to learn the virtues of silence; I have pledged to do all my shouting in books.
· I am twice blessed; I have a great master and someone I love deeply.
6. What should our readers expect from you next, are you writing anything currently?
I am writing a story about a river pirate on the Ganges at around the time Col. Clive is busy making the English a colonial power in Bengal. It is an old fashioned adventure story.
Many thanks for your questions.
Thanks you for your candid answers. It was pleasure to host you Indranil. I wish all the best for your next book and look forward to reading it.
India has been Independent for just about two decades when a young Bengali boy, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, takes his place within the portals of an ancient school that continues to glorify its colonial past.
India is changing and the city that was once the proud capital of a vast Colonial empire is in rapid decline but the school holds out, white and resplendent amidst the surrounding gloom and depredation.
Sarat Chandra, cut off from his familiar world, is thrown together with a bunch of boys who hail from diverse backgrounds – Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Armenians and Muslims. Within the school’s portals he must adapt and conform to its ancient traditions. He finds a new name, makes friends and discovers the first flush of romance but struggles to come to terms with his family’s precarious financial situation, which fuels his inherent anxiety.
Much like Sarat Chandra, the city too is grappling to come of age. Mired in post-Independence politics and economic decline, anxiety and gloom has spread through the populace jostling for space in an increasingly crowded and unrelenting city. The elite have taken over the mansions left behind by the colonialists while the poor throng the pavements and empty spaces.
Will Sarat Chandra find his place in the city or is he forever doomed to be the outsider, the ‘mofussil’ boy with an identity crisis?
This is a story about a generation numbed by the anxiety of the Sixties and the Seventies, about music dying in the bars, entire populations quietly fleeing the city and yesteryear’s generation fortifying themselves within anachronistic colonial institutions to hold out against change.
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Indranil Banerjie (1960-present) was born in Calcutta, India. The son of a military officer, he grew up in cantonments in different parts of the country and was exposed to the country’s diversity from an early age. He has been writing ever since he graduated from Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1980. He spent more than a decade as a journalist before going on to head a national security focussed think tank, SAPRA India Foundation, for sixteen years till 2011. Currently, he travels, writes and takes photographs and is working on two books. “Age of Anxiety” is his first novel.