Lee Anne's Reviews > English, August: An Indian Story

English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee
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Mar 10, 10

Read from February 25 to March 10, 2010

Agastya "August" Sen is in training with the Indian Administrative Service. He is sent to the remote town of Madna to learn the job.

The back cover blurb for this book suggests it is the Indian equivalent of The Catcher in the Rye or A Confederacy of Dunces, but I think it is instead the fictional equivalent of the Indian Administrative Service: dull, repetitive, confusing.

Agastya pays no attention to the job, gets stoned a lot, masturbates, calls in sick, lies for no reason, visits other places while ignoring Madna entirely, talks to old friends he may or may not like. and complains about the food. He's meant to be funny in his angst-y confusion, but I was annoyed and bored. Nothing much happens, and when he decides to quit the IAS, you don't know if he'll stick to it or not. And I didn't care.

This was a big hit when it was published in India some twenty years ago, but for me, it was a rare dud from the New York Review of Books imprint.
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