Chowringhee by Mani Shankar Mukherjee, better known as Sankar, is a narrative set in Calcutta in the 1950s. It tells a story from the point of view of an employee in a major hotel in the city. It talks about his experience with his co-workers, cabaret dancers, bar girls who used to work at the hotel, and a wide gamut of guests whose lives came to be intertwined with his.
The book was actually written some time in the 1960s, but was translated to English relatively recently. It has characteristics typical of Bengali literature of the time, in particular, the element of tragedy. The novel does not really have one story, but a lot of smaller stories which are interconnected in various ways. Almost all of the stories end tragically.
The storyteller tells his stories well, but I think he would have done better justice to a short story collection rather than a novel. In places, you can actually forget about the preceding anecdotes and yet fully comprehend and appreciate the current one. Because of this, it's not quite as gripping or unputdownable as I would like a book to be. But I guess that's the way it would be, given the kind of setting it is based in.
All in all, I liked it, but not in the usual way in which I like a novel.