All About H. Hatterr

by G. V. Desani

Category: Classics, Fiction

Wildly funny and very bizarre, All About H. Hatterr is one of the most eccentric and absorbing works modern English has produced. H. Hatterr is the son of a European merchant officer and a lady from Penang who has been raised and educated in missionary schools in Calcutta. His story is of his search for enlightenment. In the course of visiting seven Oriental cities, he consults with seven sages, each of whom specializes in a different aspect of ‘Living’. Each teacher delivers himself of a great ‘Generality’, each great Generality launches a new great ‘Adventure’, from each of which Hatterr escapes not so much greatly edified as by the skin of his teeth. The book is a comic extravaganza. Salman Rushdie says, ‘Hatterr’s dazzling, puzzling, leaping prose is the first genuine effort to go beyond the Englishness of the English language.’

Buy Now

About the Author

GOVINDAS VISHNOODAS DESANI (1909–2000) was born to Indian parents in Nairobi, Kenya, and raised in Sind, India (located in present-day Pakistan). Desani ran away from home several times and was expelled from school when he was thirteen for ‘being unteachable’. At the age of seventeen, he decided to educate himself, travelling alone to England and spending a year as a reader at the British Library. Desani returned to India where he was a foreign correspondent for several London newspapers. In the late 1930s and during World War II, he worked for the BBC and travelled throughout England as a lecturer. All About H. Hatterr was published in England in 1948 and was one of the best-selling books of the year. Settling in India in 1952, Desani began a life of near seclusion. During this period, he spent time in Buddhist monasteries and studied yoga and Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.

Soon after, he began lecturing on Eastern thought and contributing stories and an unsigned opinion column, ‘Very High and Very Low’, to the Illustrated Weekly of India. He moved to the United States in 1970 to teach at Boston University and subsequently the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a professor of religion and philosophy.

Read More

Praise for the Book

• “Hatterr’s dazzling, puzzling, leaping prose is the first genuine effort to go beyond
the Englishness of the English language.”
—Salman Rushdie

• “Desani was not just a literary genius: he was also, in the purest sense, a hero.”
—Amitav Ghosh

• “For sheer hilarity, All About H Hatterr cannot be beaten. It deserves to be
reprinted a thousand times over.”
—Karan Mahajan

• “In all my experience, I have not met with anything quite like it.”
—T. S. Eliot

• ‘All About H. Hatterr changed the shape of Indian fiction with its linguistic dazzle,
comic invention, and unexpected philosophical heft. I’ve never read anything like it.
—Jeet Thayil

Forthcoming Titles