Allegro Armstrong Braganza, the eponymous avian chronicler of this novel, is immoral, immortal, irreverent, intelligent, irritable and often drunk. Born in the forests beyond Shillong, he was a foul-mouthed friend of the eccentric Englishman Gareth Armstrong; then coarse companion to his daughter Rachel who married a talented Anglo-Indian piano tuner named Emilio Braganza; and finally avuncular anchor to five subsequent generations of this expansive British-Goan family who travel across India and the globe to further their various quests—Orlando in Cambodia studying the architecture of the Angkor Wat, Bella learning translation in Portugal, Maria in Almora furthering her dance ambitions under the tutelage of Uday Shankar, and Asifio in New Delhi continuing the family’s thriving music shop in Connaught Place. Through shifting tides of fame and fortune over a hundred years, it is Allegro who remains their constant and reliable port of stability.
Wickedly funny and full of surprises, Malay Chatterjee’s The Drunk Bird Chronicles is a sparkling debut that will be read and enjoyed for years to come.
‘With an unlikely cast of nawabs, missionaries, maharanis and a multilingual raven, this is an exhilarating, audacious work of fiction.’—Gautam Bhatia, author of Punjabi Baroque and Malaria Dreams
‘Even as Queen Victoria is proclaimed Empress of India, a colourful British brothel-owner cum missionary cum inventor, and perfunctory friend of Karl Marx and Charles Dickens decides to take his beautiful daughter and his ageless, evolutionary-wonder of a pet, a giant white raven, to India. What can we expect from such a beginning? You know it’s going to be a saga…’—Saeed Mirza, film-maker and author of Memory in the Age of Amnesia
‘A lively tour de force across decades; through landscapes in three continents, narrated in journeys, encounters and conversations that convey the spaciousness of India. The creation of New Delhi, the nationalist movement and post-Partition India are all seen through the lives of a diverse cast of characters—Indo-Portuguese, British, North Indian, Bengali, Khasi, national figures and familiar local ones, many of whom we recognize with delight.’—Narayani Gupta, author of Delhi Between Two Empires (1803-1931) and Delhi, Then & Now