Author Avik Gangopadhyay has written over 30 books in English and Bengali.
His writing touches upon relatively unknown but significant themes of aesthetics, dead languages, Indological studies, religious ‘isms’, theories of literature, and obscure historical issues.
He has also edited six different works of poetry and short stories. His writings and other literary endeavours have been acclaimed by critics worldwide.
He is an acute student of language and holds a post-graduate degree in English language and literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
He also takes a special interest in learning different languages and has undertaken various courses in Sanskrit, French and German languages.
Avik is a teacher who enjoys interacting with young ignited minds and leading them towards the path of academic and intellectual progress.
He continues to take inspiration from his late father, who himself was a noted academician, critic, and philosopher. His mother is a celebrated classical dancer and a singer of Rabindra Sangeet.
His wife Swati is a vocalist and his son Aaloy is a budding travel writer.
His writings and works have been recognized by noted publications like The Times of India, Anand Bazaar Patrika, Bangladesh’s Daily Observer, The Hindustan Times, Saptahik Bartaman, France’s The Connexion and Le Visage.
As a man of many interests, his works range span a wide variety of subjects including psychology, history, philosophy, eastern and western classical music, fine arts, and many others.
We at bookGeeks got a lucky opportunity for a candid and personal interaction with Avik Gangopadhyay. Here’s what he has to say about his love for writing, his latest book, Love in Siesta and, about life in general.
|Tell us something about yourself. Who is Avik as a person? What are his likes and dislikes?|
|Thank you. Nice to be connected.
Well, I am an Indian author, based in Kolkata, having 30 published books in English and Bengali.
My uncommon treatment and interdisciplinary approach to Aesthetics and Theories of Literature, Language and Criticism, Death of Languages, not-so-discussed historical issues, Philosophical and religious ‘ISMS’, Indological studies, Editorial endeavour in 6 books of poems and short stories – received wide and unique critical attention in India and abroad.
My first book “Quest for Uncertainty” was published in the year 2000.
My works on Language Death, Diaspora and Trauma Literature, The Transcreative Psyche, Demystifying the Aryan Invasion Myth, Evolution of Aestheticism have earned me appreciation from Edinburgh University (Scotland, UK), Henrich Heine University (Germany), Sorbonne University (France), Indo Canadian Diaspora Confederation (Canada), Centre for Revitalization of Endangered Languages (NY, Canada), Asia-Europe Foundation (Singapore), Library of Poetry (USA), Raad O Barendra Bhasha Shongskriti Chorcha Porishad (Bangladesh), Varendra Research Society (Bangladesh) & Varada Sidhhi Peetham (India).
I am a post-Graduate in English Language and Literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. I also take additional interest in Sanskrit, French and German Languages.
My post and opinion editorials are flavoured by my interest in the fields of psychology, philosophy, history, eastern & western classical music, fine arts, ideational treasures of antiquity & postmodernism, surface in Daily Observer, Daily Mail, The Japan Times, The Connexion, Le Visage, Pembroke Observer, National Post, The Bangladesh Post & The India Observer.
As an Expert, I answer queries on T. S. Eliot and about the first half of the 20th Century in three websites across the globe.
I am lucky that my works have been exceptionally reviewed in The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Statesman, Anandabazar Patrika, Saptahik Bartaman, Boier Desh, Ekdin, 365 Robi, Ei Shomoy, Daily Observer (Bangladesh), The Bangladesh Post (Bangladesh), The Connexion (France), Le Visage (France) and other leading literary columns of newspapers and e-journals.
As a person, I have never been centred on such winning of recognition or accomplishments surfacing in public. A private person by nature, I swim through my own inner journey.
My interest in Indian and Western classical music initiated my association with playing sitar and keyboard in my teens but it was interdisciplinary studies that consumed my focus. My long association with psychology, cultural anthropology, philosophy, history, popular science, comparative religion, treasures of antiquity, photography and documentation had shaped both my creative and critical psyche.
Voracious as a library lover, I enjoy scoring music, enjoy anything which touches the realm of fineness in human expressions...
A voyager at heart, my thirst of being wonder-dipped takes me to places less visited, be it through travelling or be it to newer dimensions in my spheres of thoughts and knowledge.
I live in Kolkata along with my family.
My life bloomed under the guidance of my Father late Prof. Manab Gangopadhyay (noted academician, litterateur, critic and philosopher) and Mother Smt. Sriparna Gangopadhyay (celebrated classical dancer and singer of Tagore songs).
Married to Smt. Swati Gangopadhyay, a vocalist, who adorably renders light classical songs, the family awaits another potential bloom in our son, Aaloy Gangopadhyay, a singer and writer of travelogues.
|Tell us something about your latest book, Love in Siesta.|
|This is my first collection of stories.
It is different, because the eight stories of my collection are eight entries into consciousness, eight spots of Time, where Blood whispers. Before head and heart, the instinct replies. Lust is the issue of blood.
The human collective unconscious consists of the primaeval instinct, the archetypes. Love in Siesta captures that mysterious human consciousness, aspects and behaviour of Time. Such treatments often factor my stories as ‘One of its kind’.
My choice of themes shows that I cannot be by any chance linked with most of my themes.
Here are eight stories that intend to capture Time framed by the evolution of human instinct with shades of changing socio-psychic rationale where man-woman relation remains in the pivot—be it in the enlightened dawn after primitivism, or eight thousand years before, or in five thousand B.C., or centuries later in 12th century A.D. or even in the run of the life of contemporaneity.
As an objective artist, I cannot be there. I created the characters and situation in a time scale and let them ripe.
I have been a published author for two decades. The “critic, columnist and academic” label has been there as a known tag with me both at home and abroad.
The sacred and enigmatic space of learning played cynosure all throughout my life. My literature revolves keeping very close proximity to History and evolution.
With the perseverance of an archaeologist and subtle sensitivity of a poet - my laborious effort of coherent recording gives birth to my unique creations. As a critic has mentioned of me- “…he is a Historian of Literature and Literati of the Minds.”
At the kernel, my craft encompasses the spectrum of mysterious human mind. Aspects and behaviour of Time through human history add hues to it. My focus is on the human instinct, with and without inhibition and time-specific cultural endowment.
Knowledge of psychology and narrative techniques helped me to weave situations. Study of cultural anthropology, archaeology and gerontology made the situations realistic when themes are set in distant past.
The sense of language and characterization comes from conscious reading and creative imagination, using mono and di-syllabic names, a supposed trend in the primitive ages, helped to create the mystery of gender or asexual identity.
As science fiction or future-centric writings are ample at hands but not so many with Time past, it was a challenge that I consciously undertook.
Visualization was vital, I think I have passed in that section, at least feedback from the readers and critics assure the same.
|You have written a number of books in both Bengali and English. Which is the language that comes naturally to you? Or you are equally inclined to write in both?|
|I am a frequenter in both the languages. I have also been trained in Sanskrit, French and German languages from childhood.
I feel free in both the languages but the real challenge has been to write books in the untrodden spheres of Bengali creating new idiom and vocabulary.
But I admit that I am inclined to write in both English and Bengali.
|Which is your earliest memory of books?|
|It is indeed funny. I faintly recall and my parents told me to made it a permanent impression.
At around 3 years of age, I used to occupy the easy chair of my father in his absence, imitate his posture and pose to read Bertrand Russell’s “Power” finding out the just learnt ABCs in the text.
At around 7, I was into reading. I remember a Japanese fairy tale, “Chin Chin Kobakoma” and a Bengali tale “In the African Jungle” — I was immensely touched and wept, only to find out that I have started reading them again.
Our family library was always a respite for me. I loved sitting by it.
|You are a talented author, linguist and researcher. Do you find these roles overlapping? And is it important to separate the author from the researcher and vice versa?|
|Not really. I believe in conscious artistry. I started writing a suspense crime drama when I was around 8 years of age but it was primarily with imitating my father, a novelist of repute, who used to sit and write at regular hours that initiated me into everything.
While writing scripts for Calcutta All India Radio Talks for 2 years I breathed an air of confidence and gradual appreciation led me through.
With regards to both reading and writing interdisciplinary approach to Aesthetics and Theories of Literature, Language and Criticism, Death of Languages, not-so-discussed historical issues, Philosophical and religious ‘ISMS’, Indological studies, psychology, cultural anthropology, philosophy, history, popular science, comparative religion, treasures of antiquity interest me immensely.
This led me to non-fiction. My first venture has been “Quest for Uncertainty”- a collection of critical essays on world literature. The theme of ‘Uncertainty’ as an attitude towards life expressed in art and literature tempted me to work on some texts, theories and authors.
But as I have mentioned earlier, I enjoy anything that touches the realm of fineness in human expressions.
I am a voyager at heart, my thirst of being wonder-dipped takes me to places less visited, be it through travelling or be it to newer dimensions in my spheres of ideas, thoughts and knowledge.
So the split is there. It is real. It exists. But there is no dichotomy.
|Who is your favourite Indian writer?|
|There are many. Genres determine the nature of appreciation.
The layers, narrative, choices of theme and approach of Amitav Ghosh appeal to me in fiction. In non-fiction, I am still fond of the scholarly wit of Nirad C Chowdhury.
But the short stories of my father, Manab Gangopadhyay, are always close to my core.
|Which book is your favourite amongst the many written by you?|
|The 3 of my core research studies are close to me:
1. Death of Language, the work and the theme with which I have been associated for 24 years;
2. Diaspora and Trauma Literature, a book and a coinage, that according to Edinburg University, is absolutely a new genre of research in art and literature as well as in social-psychology; and
3. Saraswati: Archeological, Cultural-anthropological, Mythical and Aesthetic Perspective, where my study of Indology and comparative historicism gave me years of pleasure in seeking truth in various disciplines.
These are my favourites in another sense: they are still growing, I am very much with them in every new edition.
|Any new fiction projects that you are currently working on?|
|Oh yes! I am also completing a novel set two thousand years before the Christian era. Presently I am nearing completion of a book on the Glimpses of Indian Languages.|
|Can you please share a few words of wisdom for aspiring authors?|
|For aspiring writers, I would like to say that please don’t stop reading; an informed writer is a phenomenon by himself/herself.
And to the readers, I have a plea: readers have to grow, be mature. They too have a duty to elevate their tastes…that too has a process…one has to undergo this journey.