Amit's Chaudhuri's first collection of three small novels entitled Freedom Song won him great critical acclaim and raves, even from such master stylists as Salman Rushdie over the beauty and thoughtfulness of his writing. Yes, the writing in this collection is very poetic and well-crafted, but the stories themselves never truly went anywhere. Unfortunately, his new novel A New World, suffers the same fate. The plot is a potentially revealing, touching and illuminating one, despite the fact that its same basic outlines have been used and reused in many different novels. Such a talented writer as Chaudhuri ought to be able to make something interesting and captivating out of it. In the novel, a man who has been living in the US, makes his regular visit to his parents in India with his young son, of whom he has custody for the summer. He has private regrets, of his failed marriage, of his relationship with his parents, and personal worries about his son, which of course are brought out throughout the course of the novel. His parents naturally have their own concerns and worries about him. So, in many ways this is meant to be an exploration of family bonds, of the strange feelings which accompany returning home after a long absence, of cultural collision in general.
In short, the novel's structure is a great opportunity for a writer as skilled as Chaudhuri to really make an impact, to write something about families, about parents and children that really captures an essence which everyone has felt. But, as in the case of his previous novels, this one ultimately drags and refuses to move, and a reader, no matter how much he loves Chaudhuri's prose, and wants to like the novel, will find himself yawning. The flashbacks are not coherent enough, the emotions expressed by the characters too vague to make a reader feel for them,and ultimately, which is Chaudhuri's main problem, there is no real story. It is static, and nothing,even on an emotional level, really happens. The characters, as well-written as their actions are, remain flat, distanced, and unconnected, and in the end, a reader will probably have the feeling that he has walked away from something which denied its potential and ended up empty and flat instead of rich and meaningful. If only Chaudhuri could work on his plot and character development as much as he seems to on his beautful writing style,he would indeed be among the upper echelons of our contemporary writers.