After writing four fictional works, Diksha at St. Martin’s, Day Scholar, Patna Rough-cut, and Patna Manual of Style, and attracting a fair amount of informed critical attention, Siddharth Chowdhury is back with a novel that his imagined editor qualifies as ‘short’ with the insert symbol on the cover. His loyal readers would recognize the quirky cover design as vintage Chowdhury: self-reflexive, ironic, and terribly stylish. If there is one defining characteristic of Chowdhury’s writing, it is stylishness.
But whereas the adage goes, ‘Style is the man’, in this case you have the man carefully crafting his style from his lived experiences as a young boy in Patna, a student in Delhi University, an editor at a publishing firm, and a well-received Indian English writer, who has an uncommon facility with Hindi and making it his signature. His works have emerged as a distinctive brand of Indian English fiction that manages to be both provincial and cosmopolitan; vulnerable and confident; and sensitive and unapologetically male at the same time. The Time of the Peacock, his fifth fictional work and sixth publication—the second, third, and fourth books having come out together for the second time as Ritwik & Hriday, Tales from the City, Tales from the Town—is his art at its maturity.