I had almost abandoned ‘A strange and Sublime Address’ but then decided not to. Soon I realized that the slow paced narrative is actually what the story being told demands to create the idle atmosphere of Calcutta’s summer. Everyone who has spent their share of summer holidays at their maternal uncle’s place will understand where the book is coming from. Almost nothing happens as pages flow and yet a sense of nostalgia is instilled. Amit Chaudhuri brings the little joys and disappointments in a subtle way, never fully exploiting the drama that boils below the surface. The book observes the way a child looks at his elders around him and the way the lifestyle and culture of a place create their impressions on little minds.
The plot or the lack of it takes place over two seasons. The protagonist Sandeep spends his summer vacation at Calcutta at his maternal uncle’s place and then returns again to spend his winter. The way his experiences during these short vacations differ during these two seasons creates the little ripples on an otherwise calm surface of Amit Chaudhuri’s writing.
The main story is followed by short stories which again compose the nostalgia that rises from life in Calcutta. One thing common throughout the book is the author’s successful portrayal of the wonder hidden in ordinary day to day life of everyday people. A Strange and Sublime Address transports the reader to lazy afternoons somewhere in the lost lanes of childhood.
Rating: 3.5 / 5