An astonishing novel, zany, terrifying, and liberating in equal measure, by a writer who was a visionary. Bhattacharya's voice is wholly original: lyrical, melancholic, comic, and bracingly obscene: a book that explodes in your hands.
—Siddhartha Deb

The beloved cult novel—about a young man who makes a business of relaying messages from the dead—now in a sparkling English translation.

Harbart

Fiction by Nabarun Bhattacharya

Translated by Sunandini Banerjee

With a contribution by

Poor, hard-luck Harbart Sarkar—born into a fancy Calcutta family but cursed from birth. Orphaned as a baby, he is taken into his uncle's house, only to fall further and further down the family totem pole. Despite his native talents and good looks (with his “Hollywood-ish air, Leslie Howard-ish air”), he is scorned by all but his kind aunt. Poor Harbart: so lovable but so little loved. Cheated of his inheritance, living on the roof in hand-me-down clothing, he pines for love, but all is woe: his own nephews beat him up. Suddenly, however, he seems to possess the gift of speaking with the dead. Harbart is bathed in glory. From less than zero to starry heights—what an apotheosis. But then the wheel of fortune turns again …

Now in sparkling English, Harbart—scathingly satiric, wildly energetic, and yet deeply tender—is a beloved cult novel of Calcutta.

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Paperback (published June 25, 2019)

ISBN
9780811224734
Price US
13.95
Trim Size
5x8"
Page Count
112pp

Ebook

ISBN
9780811224741
An astonishing novel, zany, terrifying, and liberating in equal measure, by a writer who was a visionary. Bhattacharya's voice is wholly original: lyrical, melancholic, comic, and bracingly obscene: a book that explodes in your hands.
—Siddhartha Deb
A remarkable resurrection, one that erupts full-blooded, alive with laughter, stink and rage.
—John Domini, The Washington Post
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
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
Nimble and vivid, Bhattacharya's slippery narrative slithers forward and sideways through time: an acute, idiosyncratic reading experience.
Publishers Weekly
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.
—Ratik Asokan, 4Columns
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
Bhattacharya occupies an uneasy place in the pantheon of Bengali greats— celebrated, disillusioned, and most subversive.
The Indian Express
Often described as a ‘magic realist’ and compared with Bulgakov, Mr. Bhattacharya won the Sahitya Akademi award for Harbart, 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