Across the Lakes

Amal Chatterjee

(published by Phoenix House, UK, and Penguin India, 1998)

"In the vast city of Calcutta, four very different lives collide: Meena, a pretty middle-class girl, her head full of books and marriage; Putul, idle, amiable scion of the moneyed upper classes, too image of cover lazy to notice anything much; John, a young Scotsman in search of his his family's Indian 'roots'; and Choto, the slum-dwelling son of a humble servant, making an increasingly perilous job of staying alive.

In a place where poverty and extravagance co-exist, these four young people lead parallel lives, inextricably linked to one another by family, proximity, and sheer chance, but for the most part oblivious of the complex web of fate that ties their destinies together. It takes the events of one month to bring them together with catastrophic consequences..."

Cover Reviews

'Chatterjee's writing is self assured; he has a keen eye for human frailty and foibles.' Literary Review.

'His strengths lie in the use of dialogue, particularly vernacular Bengali, and humour. It is a sort of at-ease humour not often found in new Indian fiction. But what he does even better is the intense portraiture of the city.' The Guardian, London.

Other Reviews

'Across the Lakes with its chic Westernised Calcuttans, its hopeless felons, embedded political skulduggery and hidden overlords of corruption, is as timeless as any parable about the rich and poor... Across the Lakes gives us the unblinking image of humanity with folly forever at its heels.' The Herald, Glasgow.

'A vivid picture of the different lives threading their way through Calcutta's grand decay. This is a feelings novel: the feeling of a place, a conversation, a colour, a food.' The Scotsman, Edinburgh.

'Amal Chatterjee combines political power-play, corruption and petty local gangsterism with the colour of Calcutta city life in a fluent first novel... A trio of lives, that of a pretty middle-class girl, the idle scion of the moneyed upper classes and a slum-dweller, collide in a delicate and humorous story.' Publishing News.

'A linguistically robust book...His strengths lie in the use of dialogue, particularly vernacular Bengali, and humour... But what he does even better is the intense portraiture of the city ... Images of the city, body, and food are ingeniously handled, balancing the paint-palette and spirit-level with equal acuity... Divergent and parallel aspects of poverty and opulence, oppression and elitism, corruption and humanity, lie side by side, as four very disparate lives criss-cross each other.' The Guardian, London.

Biographical Note

(as on Across the Lakes)
"Amal Chatterjee was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka of Sri Lankan and Indian parents. Educated in India and the UK and currently based in Scotland, he travels regularly. In 1998 he was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award for best Indian novelist and (separately) awarded a Scottish Arts Council Writers' Bursary. He is also the author of Representations of India, 1740-1840: The Creation of India in the Colonial Imagination."


Phoenix House
Paperback ISBN: 0 75380 683 5
Hardback ISBN: 1 861590 52 0
Trade Paperback ISBN: 1 861590 53 9

Penguin India
Paperback ISBN: 0 14 0277 06 4

Email the author: amal [AT]
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