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Ranging over place, memory and history, Amit Chaudhuri’s new collection of poems makes a fresh, spiritual accommodation with the world. The poems often take their themes from sweets named and eaten, meals remembered, and matches these with meditations on culture, people, time and identity that slowly unfold as much in the mouth as in the mind. And what we discover are the hesitations, assessments and uncertainties that finally make us fully human. Those quiet moments of revelation and rediscovery that create our lives as much as reflect their circumstances, locating and healing us in their intimate pleasures.
‘The lexical vitality, magically achieved through words which are mostly new to us, is a perfect lyrical representation of the sweetness and elegiac bitterness of life.’ —Bernard O'Donoghue
‘Chaudhuri’s experiments in poetic alchemy turn sweet nothings into ontological reflections. These odes to the pleasures of faltu—the unnecessary — are pungent, chewy, and succulent.’ —Charles Bernstein
‘Triggered by the smallest things and incidents, Amit Chaudhuri’s poems respond with the spry alacrity, the ‘gravity and play’, and with the infinite longing, that characterizes his prose. A remembered taste, a Bengali confectionery, an incipient thunderstorm, an attempt to adjust his (absent) spectacles, a short-cut down a decayed, remembered lane in Calcutta, to emerge ‘into the present’s pungency’, Sweet Shop lays out a stall tiered with memory. In parallel, as one might expect of this subtle mind, runs the critical intelligence which knows it is consuming and historicizing a longing, an elegy for the sweet-shop, for the sandesh and the chhana of a childhood. But it is all done dancingly, and humour is the natural climate: swift, informal, tender, these brief poems linger on the air.’ —Stephen Romer
‘Chaudhuri’s languorous, elliptical, beautiful prose is impressively impossible to put in any category at all.’ —Salman Rushdie
‘Amit Chaudhuri has already proved that he can write better than just about anybody of his generation.’ —Jonathan Coe, London Review of Books
‘One of his generation’s best writers.’ —The Guardian