The novel describes the society of the nineteenth century Calcutta (now Kolkata), and the bohemian lifestyle of the protagonist named Matilal. The novel is a landmark in the history of Bengali language and Bengali literature, as it used Cholitobhasa (colloquial form of the Bengali language) for the first time in print. The novel also happens to be one of the earliest Bengali novels. The simple prose style introduced in the novel came to be known as "Alali language". The novel was first published serially in a monthly magazine, Masik Patrika. Later, a dramatised version was staged at the Bengal Theatre (January 1875).