The Middleman

The Middleman

Product ID: 26391

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Author: Mani Sankar Mukherji
Translator(s)/ Editors(s): Arunava Sinha
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 192
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780143066712


'A veil had descended on the city. It wasn’t very late, but Somnath felt as though the sun had suddenly set on an impenetrable forest, giving way to a dangerous darkness.’

1970s Calcutta. The city is teeming with thousands of young men in search of work. Somnath Banerjee spends his days queuing up at the employment exchange. Unable to find a job despite his qualifications, Somnath decides to go into the order–supply business as a middleman. His ambition drives him to prostitute an innocent girl for a contract that will secure the future of Somnath Enterprises. As Somnath grows from an idealistic young man into a corrupt businessman, the novel becomes a terrifying portrait of the price the city extracts from its youth.

Sankar’s The Middleman is the moving story of a man torn between who he is and what he wants to be. Stark and disquieting, the novel deftly exposes the decaying values and rampant corruption of a metropolis that is built on broken dreams and morbid reality. The evocative prose and vivid imagery in this first-ever translation successfully capture the textures of the Bengali original.

Satyajit ray’s award – winning film Jana Aranya (The Middlema) was based on this novel. Ray described it as the only bleak film he ever made.


‘I felt rampant corruption all around, and I didn’t think there was any solution. I was only waiting…for a story that would give me an opportunity to show this/
- Satyajit Ray

‘I read Chowringhee many years ago in a Hindi translation and lost myself in it for days. It was a wonderful experience – both gripping and moving. I …hope [this English translation] gets the wide readership it deserves’.
- Vikram Seth

‘[Sankar’s] style is crisp and fast-paced, making for a gripping’
- The Hindu

‘[Chowringhee] transcends the barriers of time, place and race’
- The Tribune