NILOTPAL ROY : A CULT WRITER WITH A CULT GROUP OF FAN-FOLLOWERS
Nilotpal Roy (born on 19th June 1978) is an Indian writer, thinker, literary critic, and commentator on culture. He is a bi-lingual novelist, essayist, poet, playwright, and short story writer. He writes with equal flair in two languages — in English, and in his vernacular Bengali. So far, he is best known for his bold, maverick, and unforeseen styles of writing, as well as for his unconventional ways of thinking. As the immense magnitude of his erudite brain as well as his ganglionic pen ranges from ‘samizdat’ via ‘tamizdat’ to ‘magnitizdat’, since ‘blue blouse’ through ‘aleatoricism’ unto ‘degree zero’; he offers with effortless ease, a sojourn to cerebral literature. He is a featured author in Goodreads as well as in Amazon International. Apart from being published in many national and international print and e-journals, as well as being an honorable invitee contributor in festschrift books, so far he has 4 solo titles published by three different publishers ― a Bengali collection of satirical essays, an experimental English fiction in Joycean canon, an English anthology of his poems and short stories, and a Bengali book of pensees. Recently, his interview has been published in the American magazine ‘Fab World Today’. He has also been featured in the American newspaper ‘US Times Now’ as well as, another American newspaper ‘Resident Weekly’ has published an incommensurable review of his novel ‘Pastiche of Angst’. Earlier, this novel was also reviewed in the most prestigious Joycean journal ‘James Joyce Broadsheet’ published from the University of Leeds, UK.
How Amazon Describes his Books
- Nilotpalnama : Jonoiko Shobdo-Dhangorer Mogoj-Mojdurijato ‘Aya’
( https://www.amazon.in/Nilotpalnama-Jonoiko-Shobdo-Dhangorer-Mogoj-Mojdurijato-Aya/dp/8194254108 )
“Nilotpal Roy, the author of this book, writes in 2 languages ― English and Bengali. He amusingly says that he writes in English with his left hand, and when he writes in Bengali, he uses his right hand. It means that his flair for writing in Bengali is far more cerebral than in his English writings. This one is such a cerebral book of him written in Bengali with his right hand. It contains 10 essays, 2 speeches, and an imaginary letter ― all non-fiction ― written during a period of almost 5 years ― since December 2013 till October 2018. When you read this book, you can understand that these 13 pieces of writing are “of what level”, so that it takes 5 years to write. And when you read the back-blurb of this book, that tells you about the author, you can realize “why it takes 5 years” to write just 13 pieces of non-fiction. Moreover, as a bonus, readers are also having the ‘Introduction’ of the book written by the author himself. In addition, the ‘Cover’, the ‘Dedication Page’, and the statement in the ‘Quotation Page’ indicating the central spirit of the book, overtly help the readers to understand the wit of the writer, as well as the mood of the book. And his own creative concept of the front cover page, where every letter of the author’s name appears as “burnt match-sticks”, which, as if, have become physically distorted by the pain of being burnt, and thus, have turned into different letters of the Bengali alphabet. It symbolically indicates the existential angst and crisis of the creative entity of the writer. In all his books, whether English or Bengali, the name of the author appears in this very same manner, which has become his own exclusive water-mark, his individual thumb-sign.”
- Pastiche of Angst : The Polylithic Analects of a Schizophrenic
( https://www.amazon.in/Pastiche-Angst-Nilotpal-Roy/dp/9352585585 )
“Scandalously frank, wittily erudite, mercurially sui generis, effervescently inventive, and versatilely fecund, ‘Pastiche of Angst’ offers the readers a life-changing experience. Nilotpal Roy’s astonishing masterpiece, ‘Pastiche of Angst’, tells of the absurd and fairy-tale like events which occur inside the mind of the protagonist, in Kolkata on 28th April 2004, when he gets estranged from his sensual fiancee. This richly allusive, allegorical and symbolic novel, revolutionary in its ‘Post Post-Modernistic’ experimentalism, is now being hailed as a work of genius, by many contemporary doyens and stalwarts of literature worldwide.”
- And Pus and Blood and Semen and Sweat and Vomit and … et cetera
( https://www.amazon.in/Blood-Semen-Sweat-Vomit-cetera/dp/8192938603 )
“Notorious for amalgamating oriental realities and occidental fantasies with his own life in his writing, this book of Nilotpal Roy has been feted for its superfluity of language as well as its candid expressiveness. Containing 14 poems and 4 short stories (and 1 additional short story in Bengali language) this book most aptly implements the literary term ‘anti-literature’ coined by poet David Gascoyne in 1935 to describe literature which turns traditional rules and conventions upside down. Whereas, on one hand, in the poems, the nuanced verses imbued with personal themes and supplemented by philosophical motifs hypnotise the readers, on the other hand, in the stories, the avant-garde narrative technique and the bordering-on-the-absurd plot mesmerise the readers to provoke them intellectually. This book is a must read for those who prefer off-the-beaten-track literature.”
- An Ideogram character denoting ‘Quest’ (Bengali)
( https://www.amazon.in/Ideogram-character-denoting-Quest/dp/8190762702 )
“This book is like a raw sewage, the first ever book of ‘pensées’ written in Bengali language. A juxtaposition of personal and impersonal fragments, impregnated with cerebrally nefarious and rancorous thoughts, this book explores the dialectic existence of the author as an unbiased witness of his own time. The sporadic ramifications of these vignettes, emerging out of the socio-psychological experiences of the author, reflect the perils of a precociously fecund mind. The title of this book has no letters or words from any alphabet of any language; it is just an Ideogram character that means ‘quest’. This book symbolically signifies the classical quest of every individual on earth, as a human being, and henceforth the title of the book can never be pronounced or read, (neither aloud, nor silently); rather it can only be viewed, and understood ― or not understood at all. This book is an unputdownable piece of cerebral literature, which is the first of its kind in the Bengali language.”
Nilotpal claims himself to be a ‘counter-intellectual’, because he feels that it is worse to be a ‘refined mediocre’ than being a ‘crude mediocre’, and prefers to be a ‘counter-intellectual’ to a ‘pseudo-intellectual’. He never calls himself an ‘author’ as he rather prefers the term ‘penman’ which is his own coinage. According to this exceptionally experimental penman, the true yardsticks of an exceptional thinker’s and/or writer’s extraordinaire should be — Magha’s ‘versatility of inventiveness’, Joyce’s ‘fecundity of thought’, Borges’ ‘fastidiousness of analyticity’, and Kamal Kumar’s ‘infinitude of erudition’ — all these assembled together.
He was born and brought up in north Calcutta, West Bengal, India, and presently lives in Dum Dum with his wife.
Early Life & Education
Nilotpal was born at the Indira Matri O Sishu Kalyan Hospital, Belgachia in Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal, into a middle class Hindu family. Since his infancy, he was brought up amidst an ambience of nurturance of culture and education. His father Bhabatosh Roy worked in the West Bengal State Government Fisheries department as a D.F.O. (Gazetted Officer), though in his early life he taught as a teacher of Chemistry in the reputed school Mitra Institution. His mother Anita Roy taught in a West Bengal State Government school named Dum Dum Vidyamandir, as a teacher of both Sanskrit and Bengali language and literature.
He received his elementary level education upto class IV in a Bengali medium private primary school in Dum Dum named ‘Shiksha Niketan’ which was later, in 1999, upgraded to a state government high school. He was then shifted to Dum Dum Krishna Kumar Hindu Academy, which was one of the most prestigious government boys’ schools at that time. After completing his studies there till class XII, he took honours in English language and literature and was admitted in Dum Dum Motijheel College under the University of Calcutta (now under West Bengal State University). He stood second in his department in the college in graduation and moved to the College Street campus of the University of Calcutta to complete his post graduation. During post graduation, his special paper was ‘Ancient Greek and Roman Literature’, and his special author was ‘T. S. Eliot’. His research interest was James Joyce and his ‘Ulysses’.
In September 2004, he joined Priya Nath Das College in the English department as a Guest Lecturer. For his profundity of knowledge, unique method of teaching, and cordial interaction with the young students, he soon became very popular among them. In May 2005, he joined Netaji Subhas Open University at the Dum-Dum Motijheel College Study Centre as an Academic Counsellor. Again, in August 2005, he joined Derozio Memorial College in the English department as a Guest Lecturer, and simultaneously taught in these three temporary posts in these institutions with good repute and an overwhelming authority over the students. In March 2006, he joined Habra High School, a state government sponsored school, against a permanent post, as a teacher of English language and literature, and is teaching there till date. In 2012, he earned his B.Ed. from the Government College of Education (C.T.E.), Banipur, under West Bengal State University.
Writing since 1997 as an author of the thinking readers, Nilotpal has become a cult writer with a cult group of fan-followers. He feels that in the Indian literature, the moral crisis of the 19th century has merely given way to the intellectual bankruptcy of the 20th. He feels James Joyce and Nirad C. Chaudhuri to be his occidental and oriental ‘spiritual fathers’ respectively; and apart from being a ‘self-proclaimed disciple’ of Borges, Bataille, Beckett, Burroughs, Vonnegut, Perec, Markson and many others; he does also consider authors like Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Eliot, Mayakovsky, Nietzsche, Kafka, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Genet, Ionesco, Pinter, Camus, Dostoevsky et. al. to be his ‘soul’s companions’. He has so far written in several Bengali little magazines such as ‘Bodh’, ‘Grantha Sathi’, ‘Vor’, ‘Anupal’, ‘Jari Bobayuddha’, ‘Ebong Anyakatha’, ‘Ulto Durbin’, ‘Nabik’, ‘Uddipta’, ‘Alternative Voice’, ‘Bagher Bachcha’, ‘Puspak Barta’, ‘Protishilpo’ et. al.
During the period of 2001-2002, he founded an English little magazine entitled ‘Les Musings’, and run it as the chief editor. This bi-monthly print magazine consisted of five segments, namely — (1) Leaderette, (2) Fresco, (3) Vis-à-vis, (4) Les Poesies, and (5) Ecritures. The opening issue was launched as the ‘Autumn Issue 2001’ (18th August – 17th October) of which, unfortunately, no copies are now left for preservation and reading. Better among the worse, at least some copies of the following two issues, i.e. the ‘Late Autumn Issue 2001’ (18th October – 16th December) and the ‘Winter Issue 2001-2002’ (17th December – 13th February), have been preserved for researchers and general readers. After publishing these three issues very successfully, it was unexpectedly stopped due to lack of manpower.
Afterwards, in 2009-2010, with one of his students, he co-founded and edited an English e-zine entitled ‘Rebellare’. The opening issue came live on 19th November 2009, and the next on 19th January 2010. As a consequence of some technical difficulties, the 3rd issue was not published on 19th March 2010; and when the 4th issue came live on 19th May 2010, it contained all the contents selected for both the previous issue as well as this one. The 5th issue, scheduled for 19th July 2010, never went live. This web-magazine was also stopped eventually, this time due to want of fund. Yet, unlike the opening issue of ‘Les Musings’, the first editorial of the maiden issue (19th November 2009 Issue) and that of the next issue (19th January 2010 Issue) of this e-zine, both written by Roy, are still available for reading in his blog.
Since April 2011, he started writing in his own blog entitled ‘Flapdoodle : A Bi-lingual Blog’. Amusingly enough, the title of the very first piece of writing published in his blog on 28th of that month, was ‘Birth of a Sentence’. In introduction, his blog throws a statutory warning to its prospective readers, which says : “Don’t dare to enter this most lunatic place of sanity nilotpalised by the atom called Nilotpal, unless you be aware of the fact that Nilotpal does not write, he nilotpalises.” The blog is predictably bi-lingual in its nature, since Nilotpal writes with equal flair in both the languages, English and his mother tongue Bengali.
His Vision and Philosophy
As an eccentric cerebral creature, Nilotpal believes that all and every piece of creative work should essentially be an inventive piece of ‘ecriture’, that drifts ‘genre-less’ somewhere in-between fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry, autobiography, memoirs etc. and eventually, successfully culminate into ‘a psychological quest’, ‘a mental juggling’, ‘a kind of self-exploration’ — for the author, during the process-of-writing, as well as, the same, for the readers, during the process-of-reading of each of them. He believes that’s what makes one a true ‘cerebral writer’.
About his writings, it is said that every single piece he pens, caters itself as a literary vortex where all the plentitude and indigence of his capacity as well as incapacity to write with arduous symmetries and language-labyrinths, co-exist. In his books, the idiosyncratic ramifications of heterogeneous themes, reciprocated with multitudinous diversity of styles, provide many a corpus of interpretations for the readers.
In fact, (in his own words), he does not write. He ‘nilotpalise’; ‘in-between the lines’, and ‘in-between-in-between the lines’. Like Milan Kundera’s poet-protagonist Jaromil, he detests the pettiness that makes life semi-life and men semi-men. His lethally venomous texts are essentially ‘reactionary, provocative, audacious and anomalous’, which challenge the readers and make them feel the crisis they are living amidst — a challenge which for sake of coping with, if even the Almighty and the Devil have to but helplessly ally an emergency entente, they get vanquished. The readers cannot read his books; rather his books read the readers, exposing their psychic genitals; making them feel aware as well as ashamed of their own identities, making them question the worth and meaning of their futile existing entities; just as he himself goes on unmasking his true ‘I’ tirelessly in all his ‘nilotpalisings’, — a venture to fatally poison his already moribund reader comrades, as we all know, like cures like.
The Nilotpalesque Signature
Writing seriously as an eccentric thinker since 1997, Nilotpal has been consistently seeking to produce a theory of post post-modernity in his writings. As a first-of-his-kind writer on his continent, he knows that an unprecedented knowledge is possible between cultural traditions. If his works conflate elements of the novel, drama, lyric poem, play, opera, satire and so on, that is to produce a wholly new genre, for which, even in the beginning of the 3rd decade of the 21st century, there is as yet no proper name or term. The central figures of his narratives are valued to precisely the extent that each one of them can recognize the stranger in himself or herself. They are, in fact, more god-like than any of their fellow citizens and constantly able to put themselves in the other fellow’s position. Nilotpal’s readers interact with his protagonists by a similar line of reasoning — as well as with him as another. He is one of the first artists, therefore, to imagine a world without foreigners, a world possible once men and women begin to accept the foreigner in the self, and the necessarily fictive nature of all nationalisms, which are open to endless renegotiation. In fact, through his characters as well as through his creations, Nilotpal declares his sense of membership in a pan-European literary community.
His works are written with rebellious narrative forms as well as an anachronistic jumble of labyrinthine style and anomie-imbued content — all these being the substance of his vision as an author, symbolizing post-postmodern man’s anxiety-ridden and grotesque alienation in an indifferent and hostile world. His effervescently inventive narrative forms and multitudinous diversity of scattergun techniques using collage, cut-out, fusion, montage etc. enmeshing the ‘avant-garde’ underpinnings of his texts exhibit the endless process of interchange between his ‘language of thinking’ and his ‘language of writing’. The myth of narrative has been vehemently rejected by him as he hates the age-old tradition of story-telling. His works are never thematic and in several cases merely handy repositories, where his merciless satire, sarcastic criticism, and even the most wry self-caricature is overtly severe, as are his fecundity of language and almost superhuman erudition. His ‘nilotpalisations’ seem indecipherably chaotic to the unprepared readers, as the riddles of his language are prone to trap his readers in their respective subconscious matrices of thought. Here language becomes a tendency, a phenomenon to which his readers fall preys as he lures them to psycho-penetrate into his language’s indigenous absurdity.
The Subimal Mishra Connection
Roy has been personally in very close connection with the controversial writer Subimal Mishra and his writing since 1998, and Mishra himself, his readers, and the other people familiar with his writing, consider Roy to be the most authentic literary critic and commentator on Mishra now in India. In 2010, when director Basab Mukherjee decided to make a documentary film on Subimal Mishra (in Bengali), and sought permission from him, Mishra told him to speak to Roy for consent and opinions, and Roy helped him with some advice. In the film, the director interviewed Roy for 40 minutes where he analyzed and commented on various aspects of Mishra’s writings.
In that very year, Harper Perennial published a collection of Subimal Mishra’s short stories (translated into English) entitled ‘The Golden Gandhi Statue from America, Early Stories’, which was the ‘first internationally circulated’ translated version of Subimal Mishra’s work in English. The translator was seeking Roy’s opinion and advice since a few years earlier than then, and eventually when it was published, he acknowledged Roy in the book. Apart from this, a list of Mishra’s best stories so far, very meticulously selected and handpicked by Roy, at the request of Mishra himself, was published earlier in 2007.
In 2009, on Mishra’s personal request, Roy wrote his first grand critique on Mishra in Bengali which was published in that year’s Book Fair issue of the little magazine ‘Jari Bobayuddha’. Roy’s second lengthy and critical Bengali treatise on Mishra was published in 2011 in the special Subimal Mishra issue of the little magazine ‘Ebong Anyakatha’. In that very year Roy also wrote a compact article on Mishra in English entitled ‘Subimal Misra : The Writers’ Writers’ Writer’ which was published in his blog. Later, in 2012, these two Bengali critiques were republished by ‘Dana’ publishers in ‘Adyo-shraddho’, a collection of writings on Mishra, edited by Mishra himself. In October 2015, Harper Perennial published the second collection of Subimal Mishra’s short stories (translated into English) entitled ‘Wild Animals Prohibited : Stories, Anti-stories’. Here too, the translator conveys his regardful acknowledgement to Roy.
Born : 19th June 1978, Calcutta (now Kolkata), India.
Nationality : Indian.
Alma mater : University of Calcutta.
Avocation : Writer, thinker, literary critic, and commentator on culture.
Years active : 1997 – Present.
Genre : Novel, personal essay, analytical critique, literary treatise, poetry, short story, drama.
Main interests : Indian mythology, Sanskrit literature, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Absurdism, Postmodernist experimental prose and poetry, Modernist experimental prose and poetry, Avant-garde theatre, Literary theory, Literary criticism, European philosophy, Psychoanalytic literary criticism, Psychological realism in literature, Experimental prose in Bengali literature, Bengali little magazine movement, History of primitive Kolkata, Bengali folklores (songs, riddles, proverbs & tales), Bengali stage theatre, Experimental film.
Influenced by : Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, Yajnavalkya, Magha, Rajashekhara, Bharavi, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Sajani Kanta Das, Kamal Kumar Majumdar, Amiya Bhushan Majumdar, Subimal Mishra, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Ritwik Ghatak, Muppala Ranganayakamma, Francois Rabelais, Miguel de Cervantes, Mikhail Bulgakov, Robert Kroetsch, Jorge Luis Borges, James Joyce, Jean Paul Sartre, T. S. Eliot, Friedrich Nietzsche, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, William Burroughs, David Markson, George Lukacs, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jean Luc Godard.
Fundamental ideas propagated : Third degree literature; Nilotpalesque aporia; Nilotpalesque genre.