NYRB: Amit Chaudhuri presents "Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music," with Ben Ratliff

April 13, 2021, 8:00 PM

Amit Chaudhuri joins us to present his newest work, Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music, complete with live music and in conversation with Ben Ratliff. This program is part of our ongoing series with NYRB and will take place on Zoom. Register here: 

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Amit Chaudhuri, novelist, critic, and essayist, is also a musician, trained in the Indian classical vocal tradition but equally fluent as a guitarist and singer in the American folk music style, who has recorded his experimental compositions extensively and performed around the world. A turning point in his life took place when, as a lonely teenager living in a high-rise in Bombay, far from his family’s native Calcutta, he began, contrary to all his prior inclinations, to study Indian classical music. Finding the Raga chronicles that transformation and how it has continued to affect and transform not only how Chaudhuri listens to and makes music but how he listens to and thinks about the world at large. Offering a highly personal introduction to Indian music, the book is also a meditation on the differences between Indian and Western music and art-making as well as the ways they converge in a modernism that Chaudhuri reframes not as a twentieth-century Western art movement but as a fundamental mode of aesthetic response, at once immemorial and extraterritorial. Finding the Raga combines memoir, practical and cultural criticism, and philosophical reflection with the same individuality and flair that Chaudhuri demonstrates throughout a uniquely wide-ranging, challenging, and enthralling body of work.

Amit Chaudhuri is the author of seven novels, including, most recently, Friend of My Youth. Among his other published works are collections of short stories, poetry, and essays, as well as the nonfiction Calcutta, and a critical study of D. H. Lawrence’s poetry. He has received the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Betty Trask Award, the Encore Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Sahitya Akademi Award, among other accolades. Chaudhuri is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and holds the titles of Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia in England and Professor of Creative Writing at Ashoka University in India.

Ben Ratliff is the author of books including Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty and Coltrane: The Story of a Sound.  He was a pop and jazz critic at the New York Times from 1996 to 2016, and teaches at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.