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This beloved cult novel—about a young man who makes a business of relaying messages from the dead—is now in a sparkling English translation
At twenty, however, he suddenly seems to possess the gift of speaking with the dead. Herbert is bathed in glory. From less than zero to starry heights—what an apotheosis. The wheel of fortune turns again, all too soon...
Legendary, scathingly satiric, wildly energetic, deeply tender, Herbert is an Indian masterwork.
“What is needed [now] is a kind of novel that attends to how society is being organized by certain vested interests; a novel that goes to the heart—rather, goes for the jugular—of the economic system itself. Harbart is prophetic of this tradition to come.” — 4Columns
“Harbart is a haunted man—a victim-participant in the forward march of capitalism and of the impetus to assign significance to the pointlessness and chaos of material existence. Banerjee’s acrobatic translation is both enormously fun and true to the radical content.” — Asymptote
“Harbart reads like Rainer Maria Rilke’s Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge set in Calcutta. Featuring a young man with an open channel to the dead who drinks and grieves to excess, it is a mosaic of manic and immersive episodes. It is a spinning drunken stumble through a city that feels menacingly sensual.” — Nate McNamara, Lit Hub
“Often described as a ‘magic realist’ and compared with Bulgakov, Mr. Bhattacharya won the Sahitya Akademi award for Herbert, which many critics have called anarchic. He relentlessly wrote about the marginalized, the city streets, slums and dark alleys, using satire, dark humor, and fantasy to telling effect to highlight oppression and exploitation.” — The Hindu
“Bhattacharya occupies an uneasy place in the pantheon of Bengali greats—celebrated, disillusioned, and most subversive.” — The Indian Express
“Swift and strange, Harbart tells the story of its titular character, an orphan whose life is characterized by loss and longing: a sweeping view of the richness and the turmoil of Bengali culture, literature, and politics in the twentieth century.” — The New Yorker
“A remarkable resurrection, one that erupts full-blooded, alive with laughter, stink and rage.” — John Domini, The Washington Post
“An astonishing novel, zany, terrifying, and liberating in equal measure, by a writer who was a visionary.” — Siddharta Deb