Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Mammaries of the Welfare State - Upamanyu Chatterjee



Blurb on the back: In this sequel to Upamanyu Chatterjee’s debut novel, English, August, Agastya Sen—older, funnier, more beleaguered, almost endearing—and some of his friends are back.Comic and Kafkaesque, The Mammaries of the Welfare State is a masterwork of satire by a major writer at the height of his powers

My Thoughts: In this sequel to "English, August" - which I enjoyed immensely - August is no longer the naive, optimistic, pot-smoking wannabe beaurocrat. He is no longer called August either. Agastya is older, more bitter but still resistant to change into the monster that the system called "The Welfare State" forces its employees to become. He is the good guy in a realm where being good implies being lazy and indifferent. He wishes to change the system from the inside but then he comes across the universal problem of being a speck in the ocean of the corruption and vile. With characters nuttier, strange and more real than any other in Indian fiction, Chatterjee manages to paint a true picture of the bizarre universe called the Indian society. The book was published in 2000 and some of the events and government decisions that Chatterjee envisions in the book, more for comic relief, absurdity and overdramatisation, are a reality today. I wish that this book was as popular as its prequel.

Rating: 4/5

3 comments:

  1. Ah I didn't know Mammaries of a Welfare State was a sequel of English August! Thanks!

    PS: Have you seen the movie? I have yet to find a way to lay my hands on it.

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    1. Its really sad that this book isnt as popular as "English, August". I wish they would make a movie out of it too because that'd be just the cherry on the icing of the "English, August" movie. I saw it late one night on DD Metro back in the day when cable connections were few and far between. The movie is great but loses the "satire-ness" of the novel. Wish I could watch it again.

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    2. I had read 'Weight Loss' sometime back, finished reading 'English August' recently & I am seriously impressed. But I am really frustrated because I desperately want to watch the film, but have been unsuccessful till now. I don't think they ever came out with a DVD. I hope I get to see it someday.

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