One summer morning in 1977, nineteenyearold Lorenzo Senesi of Aquilina, Italy, drives his Vespa motorscooter into a speeding Fiat and breaks his forearm. It keeps him in bed for a month, and his boggled mind thinks of unfamiliar things: Where has he come from? Where is he going? And how to find out more about where he ought to go?
When he recovers, he enrols for a course in physiotherapy. He also joins a prayer group, and visits Praglia Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the foothills outside Padua.
The monastery will become his home for ten years, its isolation and discipline the anchors of his life, and then send him to a Benedictine ashram in faraway Bangladesh—a village in Khulna district, where monsoon clouds as black as night descend right down to river and earth. He will spend many years here. He will pray seven times a day, learn to speak Bengali and wash his clothes in the river, paint a small chapel, start a physiotherapy clinic to ease bodies out of pain, and fall, unexpectedly, in love. And he will find that a life of service to God is enough, but that it is also not enough.
A study of the extraordinary experiences of an ordinary man, a study of both the majesty and the banality of the spiritual path, Upamanyu Chatterjee’s new novel is a quiet triumph. It marks a new phase in the literary journey of one of India’s finest and most consistently original writers.
|Lorenzo Searches For The Meaning Of Life
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|5 February 2024