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English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee
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English, August (original 1988; edition 1988)

by Upamanyu Chatterjee

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5531132,172 (3.73)21
Agastya Sen, known to friends by the English name August, is a child of the Indian elite. His friends go to Yale and Harvard. August himself has just landed a prize government job, which takes him to Madna - a town with the highest temperatures in India - deep in the sticks. There he finds himself surrounded by incompetents and cranks, time wasters, bureaucrats, and crazies. What to do? Get stoned, shirk work, collapse in the heat, stare at the ceiling. Dealing with the locals turns out to be much easier than living with himself. English, August is a comic masterpiece from contemporary India.… (more)
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Title:English, August
Authors:Upamanyu Chatterjee
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English, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee (1988)

  1. 00
    The Civil Servant's Notebook by Wang Xiaofang (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both satires of bureaucracy, one focused on corruption (in China), the other on inertia (in India).
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» See also 21 mentions

English (9)  Hindi (1)  French (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
What writing! Not a moment when the narrative gets dull. A journey of self discovery that's at once humorous, satirical, and makes you feel uncomfortable because of the number of ways it is relatable. Can read this one again and again. ( )
  vishalshah_lt | Jun 8, 2020 |
I remember this book as a comic masterpiece. I had read it about 18 years ago - yet remember Madna and the protagonist's hilarious flirt with his own life and the surrounding. ( )
  pawanmishra | Nov 9, 2016 |
for humor 5/5.....but there were many pages which bored me... some places were too dragging.. when humor was there it was too good ... i couldn't control my laugh.... overall 3/5 :) ( )
  PallaviSharma | May 9, 2016 |
Hard to give a star rating for this book. Just because it's not for me, doesn't mean it is not a good book. I tried. I really did to finish this book, but found I needed far more background in Indian history and life to understand this book. There’s a lot of detail, and it’s clear that the author really knows his subject. But it is a book for people who have previously been immersed in Indian literature, not popular novels. ( )
  brangwinn | Jan 14, 2015 |
I am surprised that 'English, August' is not better known. It is well-written and is refreshingly funny. While the most outstanding aspect of this novel is its humor, what I like the best about it is that the story is told in such a genuine voice. For once this is not an NRI author trying to bring forth the truth about "real" India. Chatterjee draws heavily from his own experiences in the Indian administrative service to paint a picture of life in rural India, working of Government offices and bureaucracy in India of 1983. The story centers around a westernized city-boy Augustya who is stranded in a small village with a job he isn't interested in at all. The western influence on young generation and vast difference between urban and rural lives form a part of the theme as well.
There were many instances where I could easily picture the scenes in the book because it was all so familiar, it is a very Indian story.

Plot-wise not a lot seems to happen. But I guess this is a reflection of the situation at hand - just the way things don't seem to progress in government offices responsible for development and nothing seems to change from day-to-day in small villages and towns.

"Most novels progress, but this one simply chronicles an ongoing anomie and spiritual restlessness."-Washington Post.

Chatterjee doesn't let the narrative get dull at all. He presents a satirical and humorous view of the way things function. He introduces us to an array of characters who are not too far from the kind of people one could encounter in real life. And each of them is entertaining in his or her own way. Even if the situation is dull, he effortlessly evokes humor with his wit and play of words. The language perfectly complements the mood of the novel. It can be read multiple times and it still won't grow stale.

Without any doubt, Chatterjee's writing is way ahead of the likes of Adiga, Swarup or Bhagat. I am glad I came across this novel. Way to go Mr. Chatterjee!
I wanted to post some of the funny excerpts from the novel. But there are so many of them, I don't know how to pick. Just read the book... ( )
  HearTheWindSing | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Agastya Sen, known to friends by the English name August, is a child of the Indian elite. His friends go to Yale and Harvard. August himself has just landed a prize government job, which takes him to Madna - a town with the highest temperatures in India - deep in the sticks. There he finds himself surrounded by incompetents and cranks, time wasters, bureaucrats, and crazies. What to do? Get stoned, shirk work, collapse in the heat, stare at the ceiling. Dealing with the locals turns out to be much easier than living with himself. English, August is a comic masterpiece from contemporary India.

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