... remains deliciously suspended in the present, avoiding the fate of recounting; our true reward is that we have a real-time immersion with every moment of reading. And after reaching the last sentence, we can go back to the beginning and start all over again, because no event, in Chaudhuri’s fiction, is ever really over.
... a beautiful meditation on memory ... The mood of the writing is more disorientated than dreamlike ... Chaudhuri does not use titles, names or numbers to separate the sections of his narrative. Instead there are generous spaces, including whole blank pages such as these. The effect is similar to that of reading someone’s notebook, intimate and fragmentary; but the impressions are not chronologically arranged, as they might be in an actual notebook. They circle round and double back on themselves in an artful way that shows the narrator sinking into a reckoning with Berlin’s past, which ends in a series of dizzy spells and an amnesia that includes his own name.
And were it not for the narrative’s clandestine hold, the reader too might grow weary of this vacillating companion. For Sojourn is indeed the most introspective—and perhaps disaffected—of Mr. Chaudhuri’s novels; a far cry from his early rich creations. Yet even here, vivid impressions are conveyed in often prosaic sentences and, more mysteriously, in the spaces between those sentences, which seem to resonate as rests do in a musical composition. (It is no coincidence that Mr. Chaudhuri is also a composer and a practitioner of Indian classical music).