One of the pivotal points of Sampurna Chattarjis new novel,Land of the Well,is the human desire to belong to a social group. The story begins with a teenage boy finding himself drawn to a group of holiday-makers in Goa,and in the middle of it,is attracted to a female central character,Momo. Unlike her other novel,Rupture,where the characters drew a lot from Chattarjis alter-ego,the literary catalyst here was Fyodor Dostoyevskys novella,Notes from Underground. Its a world of bitter ramblings of this man who believes he is sick,unattractive and his liver is diseased, she says. This sort of existential unpleasantness of the world is what drove Chattarjis book to a large extent. Her second book was launched on Friday at Kitabkhana,with an excerpt-reading session by actress Shernaz Patel and poet Ranjit Hoskote.
Another aspect,she says,is how despite staying within the confines of a literary novel,the book derives from pulp fiction and mythical templates. Hoskote points out the subtext of
Abhimanyu getting into the chakravyuha,from an excerpt. At times I wonder if I am supposed to write literary stuff,how can I get into this desi-thriller mode? she laughs. She cites the example of John Banvilles crime fiction pen name Benjamin Black,as she is,in jest,suggested by a member of the audience the pen name of shampoo. Chattarji has a penchant for fuzzy and oddball characters. Her fascination with the slightly dark,morbid and obsessive characters helps create a world that doesnt spoon-feed the readers and creates a great sense of mystery. She is glad that it comes across that way. I dont like the idea of light falling on things; you dont know whether to fully trust the characters how they appear to be, she explains.
About her future projects Chattarji,whose previous works include the translation of legendary Bengali poet Sukumar Rays pun-riddled Abol Tabol,will now also translate Joy Goswamis modern Bengali poems.