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SUJIT’S STORY: British-Asian author mines identity and culture for his art

 Published on: 30th June 2024   |   By: Sophia Sheera   |   Category: Uncategorized

A local author has spoken to StanmoreNews about why he started writing post-retirement and navigating a life lived across two continents.

“I’m one of the first generations of Indian people who came to this country in the 1960s,” began 85-year-old Sujit Bhattacharjee. “I have experienced two cultures – Indian and Western – and it has profoundly influenced the way I understand identity as something that is multiple and situational.”

The title of Sujit’s first book, published by Matador in 2017, reflects this complex negotiation. My Journey from an Asian British to British Asian reveals the author’s shifting sense of identity.

“My grandchildren always ask me why I came to this country from Kolkata,” he explained. “I’m an old man now and I may not be able to tell my story for much longer. I think it’s important for second and third generation British Asians and the indigenous people here that experiences like mine are not lost.”

Sujit’s memoir illustrates what it is like to embody a hybrid existence, neither fully Indian nor British and yet both at the same time. However, he is proud to now be part of a British nation that is “diverse, open-minded and multiculturally enriched”.

My Journey from an Asian British to British Asian was launched at an event at the Nehru Centre in 2018, attended by a number of public intellectuals and fellow British Asians. At a Labour conference in Brighton the next year, Sujit gave a copy of his book to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The success of his first book encouraged Sujit to continue writing. His second book, Is Happiness a Cigar called Hamlet?, was published in 2020 and he hopes that his third book, which takes the Indian author Rabindranath Tagore as its subject, will be published later this year.

Sujit’s books are available to buy on Amazon.

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