Calcutta Nights

Paper Type: Book Print Paper | Size: 216 mm x 140 mm
Black and white; 140 pages; Flexiback
ISBN-13: 9789389136456


Calcutta Nights (Raater Kolkata) is the real-life story of the enigmatic `Meghnad Gupta', pen name of famed Bengali fiction writer Hemendra Kumar Roy. Translated into English by Rajat Chaudhuri almost a century after the first publication of Raater Kolkata in 1923, Roy reveals to contemporary readers the darkest secrets of an earlier Calcutta.

The first two decades of the last century, the backdrop for this book, were politically turbulent times. Those days, Calcutta, the erstwhile capital of British India, was teeming with people from different parts of the country besides Europeans and other foreigners. It was a city of sin, pleasure and suffering. Indians who arrived and settled here mingled with locals, some of them picking up dress, manners and the wanton lifestyles of the Bengali `babu’ while others kept their identities intact. All this created a unique cosmopolitan setting, coloured with shades of debauchery, darkness and crime that this first-hand account brilliantly recounts.

Written in an age very different from ours, certain views of the author could be jarring for the present times. However, these need to be tempered by the understanding of the sociopolitical contexts and the distance of a century separating us from Meghnad Gupta's Calcutta. Calcutta Nights is the Hootum Pyanchar Naksha (published in 1862 and penned by Kaliprasanna Sinha) of the early twentieth century a book that will help anyone understand the contrasts and colours of a unique Indian metropolis.  


`Masterfully translated'- The Telegraph

`Translator craftily balances archaic words with new ones, never upsetting the tonal authenticity of a period piece.'- Scroll

`A unique cosmopolitan setting'- Business Standard

`Excellent translation ... a crisp read'- Ganesh Saili, New Indian Express

`A tale of beauty and decadence'- South China Morning Post

`Interesting ... for readers interested in history and the Asian experience of transition to modernity' - Asian Review of Books, Hong Kong

`A guidebook to the dark dens of eeriness'- Press Trust of India (PTI)

`What a punch this little volume packs' - India Abroad News Service of India (IANS)

Hemendra Kumar Roy
Hemendra Kumar Roy

Famous Bengali author Hemendra Kumar Roy was also known as the emperor of adventure stories. His contribution to 20th century Bengali literature covering adventure, detective, and supernatural plots inspired movie hits like Bees Saal Baad (Twenty Years Later) and Jawkher Dhan (The Treasure and its Ghost). He pioneered the Bengali science-fiction and detective story traditions. Born in Kolkata, Roy also published essays and was closely associated with a number of literary magazines. 

Rajat Chaudhuri
Rajat Chaudhuri

Rajat Chaudhuri has published six books in two languages including fiction and translation. He selected and edited The Best Asian Speculative Fiction (2018) collection of stories and is an editor of a forthcoming Asia-Pacific solar-punk anthology to be co-published by RIHN, Japan and World Weaver Press, US. Chaudhuri’s climate change novel, The Butterfly Effect (2018) is listed as one of `Fifty Must-Read Eco-disasters in Fiction’ by Book Riot (US) and has been widely mentioned in national media for its parallels with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Rajat has won a number of writing fellowships and international residency awards including British Council administered Charles Wallace Fellowship (UK), Hawthornden Fellowship (Scotland, UK), Ministry of Culture, Korea (ARKO)-INKO residency award (South Korea), Villa Sarkia residency award (Finland, invited 2020) and Sangam House (India) residency. 

He has done book readings, offered workshops, presented  keynotes, panel talks, presentations and other speaking assignments about climate change, better futures, storytelling, climate change fiction (cli-fi), environmental science fiction, pandemics health and environment among other issues in a variety of venues including Museum of Science Fiction, Washington D.C., US, George Washington University, US, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, National Library of India, Osmania University, Dongguk University, Seoul, Chichester University, UK and several other places. He has published book reviews, essays, articles for The Telegraph, New Indian Express, Outlook, American Book Review, Asian Review of Books, The Statesman, Anandabazar Patrika (Bengali) and elsewhere. 

As an environment activist Chaudhuri has contributed to the UNDP Human Development Report besides writing monographs and articles and he has been a climate advocate at the United Nations, New York. He recently finished translating an anthology of Bengali poetry and is currently putting finishing touches to a slipstream novel on madness.