Upamanyu Chatterjee

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Upamanyu Chatterjee
উপমন্যু চট্টোপাধ্যায়
Patna, Bihar, India
Alma materSt. Xavier's School, Delhi, St. Stephen's College, Delhi

Upamanyu Chatterjee (Bengali: উপমন্যু চট্টোপাধ্যায়, born 1959) is an retired Indian civil servant who served as Joint Secretary to Government of India on the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board. He is a 1983 batch Indian Administrative Service officer from Maharashtra Cadre.He is residing in Sri Lanka as his wife is working there.[1]

He is a published author and best known for his novel English, August, also adapted into a film of the same title.

Major works[edit]

Chatterjee has written a handful of short stories of which "The Assassination of Indira Gandhi" and "Watching Them" are particularly noteworthy. His best-selling novel, English, August : An Indian story (subsequently made into a major film), was published in 1988 and has since been reprinted several times. A review in Punch described the book as "Beautifully written … English, August is a marvelously intelligent and entertaining novel, and especially for anyone curious about modern India". The novel follows Agastya Sen – a young westernised Indian civil servant whose imagination is dominated by women, literature, and soft drugs. This vivid account of "real India" by the young officer posted to the small provincial town of Madna is "a funny, wryly observed account of Agastya Sen's year in the sticks", as described by a reviewer in The Observer.[1]

His second novel, The Last Burden, appeared in 1993. This novel recreates life in an Indian family at the end of the twentieth century. The Mammaries of the Welfare State was published at the end of 2000 as a sequel to English, August. His fourth novel, Weight Loss, a dark comedy, was published in 2006.[1] His fifth was Way To Go, a sequel to The Last Burden, published in 2010. His most recent work is Fairy Tales at Fifty, published in 2014, another kind of dark comedy that combines the fantasy of fairy tales and reality.

Anjana Sharma equates Upamanyu's vision of humanity with W.B. Yeats. She writes, "Eighty years apart, cultures, civilisations, even craft and temperament apart, Yeats and Chatterjee share an identical vision of a de-centered, de-natured world." Mukul Dikshit opines that Chatterjee has, for the first time, focused on a "new class" of Westernised urban Indians who were hitherto ignored in the regional as well as the English fiction of India. He declares that Chatterjee's imagination is as fertile as Kafka's; his tragic sense is as keen as Camus's; his understanding of the absurd-comic (farce) in life is at par with Milan Kundera and Saul Bellow.[2]


In 2009, he was awarded Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his "exemplary contribution to contemporary literature"[3] Earlier in 2004, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for The Mammaries of the Welfare State.[4] The novel Way To Go was shortlisted for The Hindu Best Fiction Award in 2010.


Name Publisher ISBN Publishing date Notes
English, August : An Indian story Faber & Faber,

Rupa & Co,

NYRB Classics

Hardback: ISBN 0-571-15101-9

Paperback: ISBN 0-14-027811-7

Reprint: ISBN 1-59017-179-9

First published June 1988.

Reprint by NYRB Classics 2006

Hailed as the definitive urban Indian coming-of-age novel
The Last Burden Faber & Faber Hardback: ISBN 0-571-16825-6 16 August 1993
The Mammaries of the Welfare State Viking ISBN 0-670-87934-7 2000 Sequel to English August
Weight Loss Penguin Books India Paperback: ISBN 0-670-05862-9 28 February 2006
Way to Go Penguin Books India Hardback: ISBN 978-0-670-08352-7 15 February 2011 Sequel to The Last Burden


  1. ^ a b c Library of Congress New Delhi Office. "Upamanyu Chatterjee, 1959–". The South Asian Literary Recordings Project. US Library of Congress.
  2. ^ Sharma, Anjana. "What others have to say about Upamanyu Chatterjee". Upamanyu Chatterjee at the complete review. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  3. ^ "Upamanyu Chatterjee Gets French Award Officier Des Arts Et Des Lettres". Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  4. ^ UNI (22 December 2004). "Sahitya Akademi award winners". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 June 2011.

External links[edit]