Collaboration between two authors can be a virtuous cycle of learning for both.
In her review of ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories, author Manali Desai writes:
All the stories compare a time in India (especially Kolkata) from pre-independence vs now, making us ponder whether things have really changed and also highlighting the fact that ‘the past repeats itself’ and some actions/decisions have their impacts resonated through ages.
The writing style doesn’t always paint a pretty or desolate picture, but in fact, manages to preserve the beauty of simple simplicity by interlinking the heritage of Kolkata with commonality. Though the colours are a bit subdued and faded, but they carry lineage and ancestry.
The most striking feature of the book is how the author has let his creativity rewrite history. It comes out especially well in “The Chronicler of the Hooghly” where the paths have been intertwined with well-known historical figures of Bengal.
The writing is simple and yet holds the capacity to make a reader fall in love with old Calcutta making them curious about the city’s past.
The stories are thought-provoking and represent various human nature/emotions like greed, sadness, anger but the most applaud-worthy part about the actions in each story is how they bring home the message of karmic ends.
In my review of Manali’s book, I had said :
“I was coaxed to read the book by a Facebook friend. I had downloaded it in Kindle a while back but could complete the reading only today.
Author Manali Desai took me on a journey. A journey inhabited by three millennials Ayesha Banerjee, Viren Joshi and Abhi Agrawal. A journey which spanned Mumbai, Kolkata and Chandigarh. A journey into the mind and the world of the Millennial. And I have come out enriched!
The prologue containing Ayesha’s poetry recital is at once heart wrenching, as it punches the reader in the guts. Showcase as it does one of the evils of our societal mindset.
Adopting an easy and racy writing style, Manali’s narrative does manage to operate at two levels. At one level, the tale is one of the proverbial romance triangle and what that shows up as in social interactions and conversations – during morning walks, in the college canteen and situations. At another level exists the unsureness and the confusion about making a choice. For me the end was somewhat abrupt. Apart from this a nice read.
I would urge Manali Desai to keep on writing.”
In our author collaborative session, we had an interesting discussion on the above aspects.
“Dipen crossed the road to move towards his home in the Bhukailash estate. The narrow winding lane had a few single storied houses on the right. As he moved past the third house, his head turned as if on its own volition to the small verandah on the ground floor. His heart skipped a beat. There she was, the young woman in her twenties. Today in the failing light of dusk she stood, her head bent slightly to one side as she appeared to be combing her long lustrous black hair. Their eyes locked for a moment and then Dipen looked away quickly as he hastened his faltering steps. This had been happening almost every day over the last few months.”
The above is an excerpt from the story Pandemic, part of ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories.
Adjudged ‘Book of the Month’ for March 2021 by Booknerds, Professor Gracy Samjetsabam column author in Sunday Guardian Live and copy editor, in her review in Borderless Journal (May 14, 2021), writes:
“….. Ghosal sprinkles confetti of his coaching in life skills into the storytelling to create a set of modern-day tales that are easily relatable and palatable. The style and the settings are like fresh air that enlightens as it entertains. The stories are vibrant and close to current realities, making them a worthy read.”
Goura Prasad from Odisha, a student of literature, has sent me this beautiful piece and I am copying it below:
“I’m an admirer of literature. I used to write short poems, few lines about my teachers and felt happy to write about that. I ‘m enjoying The Chronicler of the Hooghly on a fine Sunday morning.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly is a good book with a unique writing style. It can be best enjoyed at the dining table, a father with a copy of the book in his hand and his children as active listeners.
Goura Prasad further provides this so very interesting discussion in the metaphysical world!
(Topic- Author Shakti Ghosal)
If Shakespeare, George Benard Shaw, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost and some other contemporary writers of their level were to talk to each other in the metaphysical world regarding Author Shakti Ghosal they may be very much thankful towards him firstly.
How Shakti is deeply rooted in the field of literature with some advanced literary ideas; claps may come voluntarily from them while talking to each other in the metaphysical world.
Shakespeare might say this to Shakti, “I’ve written so many dramas and sonnets, but the way you present the incidents with appropriate scenes Hail Thee to it.”
George Benard Shaw might suggest, ” No foreigner can speak English with hundred percent accuracy but your writing style is worth observing.”
Robert Frost may confide, ” I could not stop in the forest to enjoy the growing darkness of an advancing evening as I was assigned with so many responsibilities and I ‘ve mentioned this also in “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening.” But from our discussion, I can assure you I’ll take leave to enjoy your The Chronicler of the Hooghly.”
And the discussion goes on……..
Thank you Goura for the above wonderful thought. You have indeed made my day!!
“Hmm. Yes there is something but I am not sure if I should be speaking about it”, Anjan said. “I have been trying to make sense of an unusual incident that happened just a while back”.
The room quietened as everyone turned towards their host expectantly. Jaya too had come in, poured herself some red wine and sat down.
“Just before all of you came in, I was looking out of these French windows when I was somewhat surprised to see an old school friend of mine Savio on the walkway outside. We had lost touch for over two decades. Suddenly I see him outside my very window”.
“And you recognized him right away?” Akshay asked.
‘Right away, as if the years slipped away and I saw him just as I had last seen him two decades back’.
But when I invited him to join us for dinner tonight, he said something strange and vanished!
As his friends looked at each other in puzzlement, suddenly Anjan could hear shouts of “Anjan! Anjan!” coming from outside, accompanied by loud knocks.
To Anjan it seemed like Savio was calling him; he started getting up to go to the door.
The above is an excerpt from the story Faultlines, part of the Chronicler of the Hooghly collection. Emotionally gripping and a psychological page-turner, the book recently received the Nazme Sahitya award for 2021. Available worldwide on Amazon ( 180 excellent ratings and reviews) , Flipkart and select book stores.
Nazmehayat was conceived as a platform for worthy writers. Curated by its two founders Swapnil Singh and Anushree Goswami, Nazmehayat offers book recommendations, contests as also a blogging platform for writers. It has a significant presence on social media platforms.
Nazmehayat has the vision to become a leading Literature platform in the world.
The book is dedicated to my father Late Debabrata Ghosal who gave wings to my imagination in my formative years.
I am conscious of the blessing that my eighty seven year old mother bestows on me daily which has enabled me to focus, ideate and pen what I have written.
I remain indebted to my wife Sanchita, without whose partnership and deep involvement, this book would not have come out in the present form. Not only has she been a sounding board for my creative thoughts, her suggestions relating to mid-course corrections in the plots have led to significant improvement of the final output that is in your hands today.
I am also beholden to my daughters Riya, Raka and my son-in-law Vibhu who provided the needed ‘readers point of view’ criticism of my writing at every stage. My daily interaction with my nearly two year old granddaughter Anaysha on WhatsApp video, has been a source of joy as I went about the onerous task of authorship.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.
Some months back, Sumant Chak of the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers ( Jamalpur cadre) , a transportation domain expert, was the winner of the Chronicler of the Hooghly contest.
As a winner he got a free copy of the book. After he completed reading, he sent me the following musings. I found it fascinating how some of the places and events in the book sparked off thoughts about his own experiences and perspectives. I am giving hereunder what he wrote.
I had been meaning to write to you for sometime as I finished reading your very readable stories.
I was particularly impressed by the first Ashtami and the last about the Chronicler. In Ashtami the characters were so well defined that they seemed to be people one knew. The details of the period were beautifully depicted and one felt so real like a play which was unfolding in front of one’s eyes on the stage of one’s imagination. It reflected the effort that must have gone into researching the times so as to bring it to life. Wonderful.
The piece de resistance was however the last story – The Chronicler of the Hooghly. It was the manner in which you were able to thread real life characters into the tale that showed the grip you have over your craft. It’s almost as if you were writing about the history of the region. Apart from that it struck a personal chord bringing back my own experiences of the river, the towns and also my time in Eastern Railway. In my first year at Jamalpur, I was asked by the GM’s wife to come to Calcutta and direct a play for the annual function of the Womens’ Association in Rabindra Bhawan. For some time I was bunking with a friend in Howrah Jute Mills almost just across the river from Fairlie Place and since I was seconded to the ER CME office for a month, I travelled daily to Fairlie via the ferry. Talking to people on it brought out a lot of tales regarding the various ghats and the ferry journey in the story was like reliving those days. I also used to travel by ferry whenever I came on work from Asansol to Fairlie Place when I was ADRM.
The other personal connection was mention of Chandernagore, a town I have never visited but read much about. I did my schooling till Inter in La Martiniere College, Lucknow, a school founded by Claude Martin with strong connections to the town. Claude Marting was a fascinating personality who started with the French India Company, switched sometime later to East India Company and finally befriended the Nawab of Oudh in Lucknow where he spent the rest of his life building some very important buildings including the La Martiniere College, a great piece of architecture. He apparently has some strong connection with Chandernagore to the extent that in his will he ordained that from the interest earned from his sizeable wealth, a certain amount would be given annually to pay the debts of the drunks of Chandernagore!!
Another connection was the necklace you mentioned. Apparently my paternal grandmother had a similar pearl necklace coveted by all with the hope that it would be given to one of them in her will.
It’s a wonderful book and I do hope you will pursue this interest as it is a gift not given to everybody. My best wishes are always with you and will look forward to more stories from your pen.
The book continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Instagrammer Bookish witch88 has reviewed the Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories as under:
My ratings: 4.6/5 Consisting of 4 short stories (Ashtami, Pandemic, Fault Lines, and The Chronicler of Hooghly) that span across cross generations, this book is a thought-provoking, enlightening as well as knowledgeable read.
What I liked about the book: -> All the stories compare a time in India (especially Kolkata) from pre-independence vs now, making us ponder whether things have really changed. -> The most striking feature of the book is how the author has let his creativity rewrite history. -> The writing holds the capacity to make a reader fall in love with old Calcutta. -> The stories are thought-provoking and represent various human nature/emotions. -> The distinct messages from each story: a) In Ashtami, our aversion as humans to differently-abled individuals. b) In Pandemic, the comparison between 1920 pandemic and 2020 pandemic. Also, how the lockdown brought us closer to our families. c) In Fault Lines, the karmic endings of our actions over time. d) In The Chronicler of Hooghly, how certain actions have their impacts felt over generations.
What I did not like about the book: -> Certain bits in some stories did not make much sense, as to why they were part of the story. -> In The Chronicler of Hooghly, the to and from between the past and present was a little complex to follow at times.
Quotable quotes: -> Just like we do not change even when we replace our old garments with new, so does the soul remain unchanged as it discards its worn-out body and takes birth in a new one. -> Tragedies happen to good people to make them stronger. . More via link in bio. 🔗 👆🏻 . QOTD : Which is favourite pre-independence story /book?
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than one hundred and sixty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads
Spanning a century between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development. What is their link spanning four generations which arises from an old and dilapidated palace and its massive Shiva linga?
Santosh Jami from Bengaluru writes……
” Amazing book, very easy read.
Honestly I am not much into books lately but when I read the preface and the first few pages, I could not put it down, especially the parts where historical facts were interwoven into stories is real magic. The narration of battle of Plassey, events surrounding fall of Bengal when mixed with the characters in the stories – all of them came alive.And the mix of history with contemporary events is beautiful.
The open ending where the Chronicler slowly fades away is really thought provoking and leaves the reader with self reflection and space for introspection in a very subtle way.
Overall, an excellent read.“
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with around one hundred and fifty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads. Available on Amazon, Flipkart and leading bookstores.