Calcutta Nights
Paper Type: Book Print Paper | Size: 216mm x 140mm; 140pp
Black and white


Calcutta Nights (Raater Kolkata) is the real-life story of the enigmatic `Meghnad Gupta', pen name of famed Bengali fiction writer Hemendra Kumar Roy. Translated into English by Rajat Chaudhuri almost a century after the first publication of Raater Kolkata in 1923, Roy reveals to contemporary readers the darkest secrets of an earlier Calcutta.

The first two decades of the last century, the backdrop for this book, were politically turbulent times. Those days, Calcutta, the erstwhile capital of British India, was teeming with people from different parts of the country besides Europeans and other foreigners. It was a city of sin, pleasure and suffering. Indians who arrived and settled here mingled with locals, some of them picking up dress, manners and the wanton lifestyles of the Bengali `babu’ while others kept their identities intact. All this created a unique cosmopolitan setting, coloured with shades of debauchery, darkness and crime that this first-hand account brilliantly recounts.

Written in an age very different from ours, certain views of the author could be jarring for the present times. However, these need to be tempered by the understanding of the sociopolitical contexts and the distance of a century separating us from Meghnad Gupta's Calcutta.

Calcutta Nights is the Hootum Pyanchar Naksha (published in 1862 and penned by Kaliprasanna Sinha) of the early twentieth century a book that will help anyone understand the contrasts and colours of a unique Indian metropolis.  

Hemendra Kumar Roy
Hemendra Kumar Roy

Famous Bengali author Hemendra kumar Roy was also known as the emperor of adventure stories. His contribution to 20th century Bengali literature covering adventure, detective, and supernatural plots inspired movie hits like Bees Saal Baad (Twenty Years Later) and Jawkher Dhan (The Treasure and its Ghost). He pioneered the Bengali science-fiction and detective story traditions. Born in Kolkata, Roy also published essays and was closely associated with a number of literary magazines. 

Rajat Chaudhuri
Rajat Chaudhuri

Bilingual author and editor Rajat Chaudhuri has published novels, story collections and other works. His books include The Butterfly Effect (Niyogi Books), Hotel Calcutta (Niyogi Books), The Best Asian Speculative Fiction, edited by him, Calculus (short stories in Bengali) among others. His writings has won him a Charles Wallace Creative Writing Fellowship, UK, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, Scotland, a Korean Arts Council-InKo Residency in South Korea, and a Sangam House residency. He has written for Outlook magazine, American Book Review, Asian Review of Books, The Telegraph, Eclectica, among others. Chaudhuri has been a climate change advocate at the United Nations (New York). Trained in Economics, he has worked for international rights advocacy groups and for a Japanese consular mission in his home town, Calcutta.