The launch of The Land Of The Well by poet, translator and novelist Sampurna Chattarji (picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya) at Oxford Bookstore, Park Street, recently saw an animated discussion on the thin line between the well and the unwell.
The novel revolves around a 17-year-old boy holidaying in Goa with his parents. He is drawn to a group of 10 cool youngsters without the restrictive reins of parents. They seem to have everything the boy wants. Also in the group is Momo, a beautiful girl he falls in love with.
As the friendless teenager desperately tries to win the approval of these “charismatic strangers”, he gets more and more involved in the cruel games they play. To impress them he tells them the story of The Land of Well, only to end up facing an alienation worse than before.
After Chattarji read from her novel, Sandip Ray, the cultural editor of Firstpost.com, asked her about the genesis of the book or if at least its title came about from a time in her life when everyone seemed unwell.
“Why was the boy trying to make friends with that group? Why wasn’t he busy on Facebook making friends with strangers?” Sandip asked Chattarji. The novelist said it was “that horrible cliché — blind love”.
Poet-author Jeet Thayill, whose debut novel Narcopolis has made it to the Man Booker shortlist, dropped by at the launch. He dwelt on the perils of labels — especially that of “a poet writing in prose”.