Agastya Sen, the hero of English, August, is a child of the Indian elite. His father is the governor of Bengal. His friends go to Yale and Harvard. He himself has secured a position in the most prestigious and exclusive of Indian government agencies, the IAS. Agastya's first assignment is to the town of Madna, buried deep in the provinces. There he meets a range of eccentrics worthy of a novel by Evelyn Waugh. Agastya himself smokes a lot of pot and drinks a lot of beer, finds ingenious excuses to shirk work, loses himself in sexual fantasies about his boss's wife, and makes caustic asides to coworkers and friends. And yet he is as impatient with his own restlessness as he is with anything else. Agastya's effort to figure out a place in the world is faltering and fraught with comic missteps. Chatterjee's novel, an Indian Catcher in the Rye with a wild humor and lyricism that are all its own, is at once spiritual quest and a comic revue. It offers a glimpse an Indian reality that proves no less compelling than the magic realism of Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy.