Calcutta Nights

Paper Type: Book Print Paper | Size: 216 mm x 140 mm
Black and white; 140 pages; Flexiback
ISBN-13: 9789389136456


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.  


`Masterfully translated'- The Telegraph

`Translator craftily balances archaic words with new ones, never upsetting the tonal authenticity of a period piece.'- Scroll

`A unique cosmopolitan setting'- Business Standard

`Excellent translation ... a crisp read'- Ganesh Saili, New Indian Express

`A tale of beauty and decadence'- South China Morning Post

`Interesting ... for readers interested in history and the Asian experience of transition to modernity' - Asian Review of Books, Hong Kong

`A guidebook to the dark dens of eeriness'- Press Trust of India (PTI)

`What a punch this little volume packs' - India Abroad News Service of India (IANS)

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

RAJAT CHAUDHURI’S works include novels, story collections, edited anthologies and translations. He curated The Best Asian Speculative Fiction and co-edited the Multispecies Cities: Solarpunk Urban Futures (Asia-Pacific) anthology. 

Chaudhuri’s novel, The Butterfly Effect was twice listed by Book Riot (US) as a ‘Fifty must read eco-disasters in fiction’ and among ‘Ten works of environmental literature from around the world’. Acclaimed for its exploration of a ‘Ballardian near-future’, this novel is in the syllabus of one Indian and an American university. The ‘visceral urbanism’ of his book Hotel Calcutta is the subject of an essay in Routledge’s The City Speaks collection. His fiction also appeared in the internationally acclaimed climate fiction video game 'Survive the Century'. 

Chaudhuri received writing fellowships from Charles Wallace (UK), Hawthornden Castle (Scotland) and Livonics (India) and residency awards from Arts Council Korea-InKo (South Korea) and Sangam House (India). He lives and writes in Calcutta.