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The Cat Under the Stairs
Sarat Kumar Mukhopdahyay; Robert McNamara, trans.

Eastern Washington University
2009 • 72 pp. 6 x 9"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-1-59766-039-6

A collection of poems by Sarat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, translated from the original Bengali with Robert McNamara.

"Ask Sarat Kumar Mukhopadhyay about the distinctively Indian dimensions of his work," writes poet Robert McNamara in the preface of this collection, "and he will be quick to tell you that he lacks the 'ethnic touch,' that his work offers nothing to the reader who comes for local color. The voice is modern, critical, cosmopolitan. Nevertheless, it is a poetry very much of its time and place, of Bengal and Calcutta."

A familiar figure in Bengali literary circles, although little known in the West, Mukhopadhyay writes with a disarmingly plainspoken voice. Shadings of wry humor, the capacity of the observer for cool-headed reflection, and a remarkable verbal directness combine with a deeply personal response to the world, creating poems that linger in the mind like words spoken by a close an unusually forthright friend.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"Mukhopadhyay's quietly witty, urbane, and often irreverent sensibility is both shadowed and enlivened by the turbulent but always vital history of Kolkata, the city of his birth—a place of overwhelming poverty, despite its status as India's cultural and intellectual capital. As he contemplates the shifting meaning of human life, Mukhopadhyay is able to wax ecstatic, in scriptural tones and with sensuous resonance. . . . Robert McNamara's translations, the product of years of correspondence with the poet, render Mukhopadhyay's sophisticated and deeply localized Bengali into colloquial, multilayered English."—Carolyne Wright, translator of Majestic Nights: Love Songs of Bengali Women

SARAT KUMAR MUKHOPADHYAY published his first collection of poems in 1957. The author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry, as well as several novels, he has also written essays on prominent Western literary figures, among them Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and D.H. Lawrence, and has translated works of English literature into Bengali, including George Orwell's Animal Farm and the poetry of William Carlos Williams.

ROBERT MCNAMARA is the author of two collections of poetry, The Body and the Day and Second Messengers. In 1993, under the auspices of a Fulbright grant, he traveled to Kolkata to conduct research at Jadavpur University. He teaches in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program at the University of Washington.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:08:59 -0500