Friend of My Youth
‘Amit Chaudhuri has, like Proust, perfected the art of the moment… [he] is a miniaturist, for whom tiny moments become radiant, and for whom the complexities of the fleeting mood uncurl onto the page like a leaf, a petal.’ – Hilary Mantel
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In Friend of My Youth, a novelist named Amit Chaudhuri visits his childhood home of Bombay. The city, reeling from the impact of the 2008 terrorist attacks, weighs heavily on Amit’s mind, as does the unexpected absence of his childhood friend Ramu, a drifting, opaque figure who is Amit’s last remaining connection to the city he once called home.
Amit Chaudhuri is a master. This book is a hymn to a city, to our present and our past. Like an Indian Proust, he shows us the enchantments and powers of memory. To read Amit Chaudhuri is to discover that one's heart is beating at a gentler, more profound pace. In today's noisy world, his words provide a home wherein we can contemplate the essential things in life.
What [Chaudhuri] does in this short novel, with exquisite delicacy, is show disconnection, vacancy and the physical world's imperviousness to human action, even of the most violent kind.
Friend of My Youth is a taut, efficient book: part novel and part manifesto. It presents itself as a work of fiction about friendship, the experiences of youth and the city of Mumbai, but really it’s a kind of anti-novel: a book about the failures of fiction to account for the realities of memory
Chaudhuri is an exceptionally subtle writer, a sceptical seeker rather than a postmodern show-off. However you classify it, this journey through the traces of his past earns its literary sleight-of-hand.
This novel is “an assemblage of moments, of different kinds of awareness of the world, and even of writing”. Like [Henry] Green’s novels it offers delight, it shimmers, you seek to catch hold of it and it slides away.
Fiercely intelligent [and] elegant … [Chaudhuri] combines a serious reflection on psychology and friendship with an examination of the artist’s relationship to real life.
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