Anatomy of Life follows the life of an unnamed poet from the age of 16 to 25, as he negotiates contemporary urban India. The poet has a quest to understand the human self, and he makes many surprising and illuminating discoveries along the way.
Anatomy of Life is organised in six thematic chapters: Seasons; Myriad Void; Circles and Spheres; Centre and Periphery; Balance; The Wheel. The chapters gradually draw these various themes together to reveal an invisible structure of life, one common to all humanity.
The poet is just sixteen when he moves to a new city with his recently-divorced mother. It is a new beginning; there is the promise of a new life away from endless domestic squabbles. But ghosts of the past still linger…
The poet joins college, meets his first love, and makes new friends. In places as various as the balcony of a hotel in Benares, to the squalid room of a sex worker, he experiences moments of confusion, contemplation, ennui, ecstasy, happiness, and epiphany. Thoughtful, sensitive, and observant, his explorations take him beyond the physical world, into the realm of thought. He is relentless in his attempts to understand ideas: his own; his contemporaries'; those of the dead.
Devdan Chaudhuri says:
“I wanted to decipher and understand the fundamental design of the human self. If we don’t understand the self, we don’t understand ourselves, nor do we realise why we do, what to do. I consider my novel to be a contribution to what I term literature of inquest. I mean it attempts to decipher and understand something that is universal, and tries to offer fresh perspectives and insights, which will be useful to readers.
I discovered the structure of the novel, with six chapters pointing out an invisible design of life, while I was writing. And that structure determined how I wrote the story, what to put it and what to omit.”
Praise for Anatomy of Life
"A narrative that's shaped like a fable, but in which we recognise the various features of life in India today.” Amit Chaudhuri
“An unusual and readable chronicle of an abstract poet’s journey, veering from the salacious to the sacred.” Romesh Gunesekera.