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Tokyo cancelled, Delhi calling



Rana Dasgupta.

REMEMBER CHAUCER'S "Canterbury Tales" penned in 14th Century? A saga of wonderful tales told by 30 people to each other on their way to Canterbury pilgrim in England? Now in 21st Century, these numbers of people have come down to 13, and the passengers are stranded at the airport as Tokyo, their destination is under the severe grip of snowfall and all flights to it are cancelled. To kill time, passengers tell each other stories; stories from various parts of the world New York, Buenos Aires, London Paris and so on. And these stories form the modern version of "Canterbury Tales" in 33-year-old British Indian writer Rana Dasgupta's debut novel "Tokyo Cancelled" published by Harper Collins recently released in New Delhi.

Dasgupta, who now lives in the Capital, visited Oxford Bookstore to satisfy queries of the Delhi college students on his novel this week.

What could have been an otherwise very interesting chat session on the book, turned out to be a monotonous book-reading one, while most college students did not seem to have read his novel, the readings from different stories, with a prelude to the background seemed to have no stirring consequences yet a few enlightened ones managed to shoot some queries.

"So why the story of doll maker had to be so tragic?"

"Why your book takes one beyond the conventional boundaries of desire?"

"Does the story telling change according to the world we live in?"

"What proved to be your catalytic point to write a book?", and so on.

"A book has to find a utopia somewhere, some find it in love, some in hatred, my book finds it in creativity," says Dasgupta who, however, feels that new Indian writers in English are now "no longer anxious about their past as Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth or Arundhati Roy". But for him "it is quite okay, rather refreshingly unpretentious".

Now that's for many others to decide too, same as one has to find out how far his "Tokyo Cancelled" matches Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"!

RANA SIDDIQUI

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