“The black man has two dimensions,” writes the Algerian philosopher Frantz Fanon. “One with his fellows, the other with the white man.”
To be a migrant is to forever exist in this duality between Us and Them, a schism of the soul reflected in the migrant’s speech. In speech we hear the migrant fly from his known world, adopt a new tongue and, at times, get caught in the act of travel.
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Somnath Batabyal: Interconnected cities
Somnath Batabyal’s debut novel The Price You Pay follows a Delhi crime journalist’s search for truth. Somnath started his career as a journalist reporting on crime, but he now teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
He will appear in this year’s Hay Festival Dhaka to discuss world capitals, commerce and globalization in Thursday’s “Cities” panel alongside Rana Dasgupta and Javed Jahangir. On Friday, he will join British historian William Dalrymple to interrogate the historical narratives behind the Anglo-Afghan War.
Read the full interview here
In conversation with Rana Das Gupta and Javed Jahangir: Review in The Daily Star
The (False) Seduction of Cities
Photo by Ridwan Adid Rupon
The irony of going to attend a Hay Festival session on globalisation, capital, and the brutality of an urban landscape shaped by neo-liberal ideas of capitalism was not lost on me. With the recent case of three outsiders brutally assaulted on dubious grounds not far from the Hay Festival location of Bangla Academy, the issues touched upon at the session struck a chord with the Bengali audience…
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Q&A with Suparna-Saraswati Puri
BORN in the idyllic environs of Siliguri, the Dhiren Bhagat and Chevening Young Print Journalist, who dodged school books for playing badminton, ran the course of an enthused media aspirant with national dailies. He established his credentials as an academic with a Masters in Anthropology of the Media and a doctorate from SOAS, London, it is Somnath Batabyal’s dexterity to traverse media, scholastic expanse and fiction writing that lends him a distinguished mien. The author of The Price You Pay hailed as an “unputdownable crime thriller”, engages his time and interest with varied forums of writings that include his weekly column titled Nomad Notes in The Sunday Guardian, blogging for Sacred Media Cow (an online collective of media theorists) and lecturing at SOAS, while conceiving his next work of fiction. In an exclusive interview, author Somnath Batabyal reflects upon his appetite for crime and his first novel.
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Ever since I renounced cosmopolitan life for a middle-of-nowhere-beach-type-of-existence, portraitures of cities in novels or nonfiction have increasingly become my preferred mode for experiencing a city. Delhi, a place I’ve always been intrigued with despite its megalomaniacal tendencies, has been getting a lot of mileage lately with a spate of books offering salaams to the capital, indicating that it may have finally ousted Mumbai as India’s most favoured literary locale.
For Somnath Batabyal, who worked in Delhi as a journalist for over a decade, the city is ‘massive’—not just in size, but in impact…
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Kolkata’s favourite bookshop – Oxford Bookstore – listed The Price You Pay amongst its top five choices for fiction, second only to Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland. Here are the listings:
14th October 2013: In an evening of sparkling conversation between Professor Ananya Kabir and Somnath Batabyal, the new edition of The Price You Pay made its first UK appearance. The speakers were given a warm introduction by Annabelle Sreberny, Professor of Global Media and Communications at SOAS, University of London, where the launch was held.
After only three months on the shelves, Somnath Batabyal’s novel The Price You Pay has gone into reprint, with a stunning new cover (photograph courtesy Jon Page)