Bandyopadhyay, Bidisha 1978-
BANDYOPADHYAY, Bidisha 1978-
PERSONAL: Born 1978, in London, England; daughter of professors. Education: Attended Oxford University.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, International Publishers Marketing, P.O. Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605.
CAREER: Has worked as a journalist; Spread the Word Literature Development Agency, headed writing workshops; former movie researcher and film producer.
under name bidisha
Seahorses (novel), Flamingo (London, England), 1997.
Too Fast to Live (novel), Duck Editions (London, England), 2001.
Also author of The Second Coming. Contributor to periodicals, including Big Issue, i-D, New Musical Express, and Dazed and Confused.
SIDELIGHTS: At age sixteen Bidisha Bandyopadhyay was hailed as a prodigy when she was offered a book contract for a novel manuscript that was still unfinished at the time. A student at Oxford University, she was interested in journalism and had plans of starting her own magazine, Girlpower!, when Seahorses was released by Flamingo three years later, in 1997.
Published under the author's first name, Seahorses is the story of five self-involved and shallow Londoners; the tale follows each of these characters through meaningless sex, financial failure, and redefining moments of success designed to reflect the emptiness of modern, urban life. Critics found Bidisha's writing style promising but inconsistent. For example, a critic for the London Sunday Times wrote that the many literary allusions to be "tiresome" but noted that "the descriptive writing is stylish." Thomas Blaikie maintained that the young writer fails only when she is too ambitious in her writing, noting in a Spectator review: "Many of the things that are wrong with [Seahorses] … are the result of overdoing the things that are right with it." Blaikie added, "It may not be fully achieved, but Seahorses would be an impressive debut for any novelist, let alone one so young."
After working as a journalist for a time, Bidisha followed Seahorses with her second novel, Too Fast to Live. Based on the legend of King Arthur and Camelot, the story features the fall of a king in a seedy, modern-day Soho bar called The King of England. Rex, the head of a street gang, rules the bar he has inherited, which is frequented by London's low-lifes. His queen is Janine, a mixed-race girl from an upper-class family. The reign of this sleazy Camelot is disrupted by Neela, an Asian girl who plays the role of Mordred, and sex and betrayal lead to a violent conclusion in which Rex and his gang are all killed. While some critics felt that the parallels between the Arthurian legend and Too Fast to Live might not be obvious to readers, as Bob Lunn commented in Library Journal, if one "can accept the conceit … it's carried off rather stylishly." And Bruce King, writing in World Literature Today, called Too Fast to Live "impressive trash art."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Guardian (Manchester, England), June 29, 1999, Maya Jaggi, "Arts: Where East Is West: Arundhati Roy, Vikram Chandra, Bidisha…. Indian Fiction in English Is an International Success," p. T11.
Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Bob Lunn, review of Too Fast to Live, p. 101.
News India-Times, July 21, 1995, "Bengali Schoolgirl May Be Next Vikram Seth," p. 12.
Spectator (London, England), June 7, 1997, Thomas Blaikie, "Making Good Progress," pp. 48-49.
Sunday Times (London, England), August 2, 1998, review of Seahorses, p. 10.
Voice (London, England), December 11, 2000, Lee Pinkerton, "Write on Track: Talented Bidisha's Second Novel May Lead Her into Making Movies," p. 41.
World Literature Today, spring, 2001, Bruce King, review of Too Fast to Live, p. 330.*