How does one record an extraordinary time? Confined to his Delhi apartment, Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee unravels the intimate paradoxes of the life he encounters in the first weeks of a global pandemic. His stories about local fish sellers, gardeners, barbers, and lovers merge with his concerns for the exodus of migrant labourers, the challenges faced by health workers, and a mother braving check posts to bring her son home.
Drawing inspiration from contemporary literature and cinema, The Town Slowly Empties is a unique window on a world desperate for love, care, and hope. Manash is our Everyman, urging us to slow down and mend our broken ties with nature.
Written with rare candour and elegance, this meditative book is a compelling account of the human condition that soars high above the empty streets.
“The Town Slowly Empties retains a raw and authentic tone, describing an experience from the inside, unmediated by time and memory.” (Sasha Dugdale, author of Deformations [from the foreword])
“Lyrical and evocative, a pandemic journal with a difference.” (Siddhartha Deb, author of The Beautiful and the Damned)
“Captivating observations, piercing personal memories and essayistic reflections with a double goal: to bear witness and to remain a human being.” (Aleš Steger, author of Above the Sky Beneath the Earth)
“What sustains the narrator-protagonist of this beautiful and compelling memoir of our very own plague year is his passionate, full-bodied immersion in culture.” (Ranjit Hoskote, author of The Atlas of Beliefs)
“In this book of quiet meditations, Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee shows the unique value of sensible, informed and honest thought… The greatest contribution is the author’s sheer calm of mind in a world driven mad by anxiety.” (Peter Riley, editor of The Fortnightly Review