Hungry generation

The Hungry Generation was a literary movement in the Bengali language launched by what is known today as the Hungryalist quartet, i.e. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roychoudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy(Haradhon Dhara), during the 1960s in Kolkata, India. Due to their involvement in this avante garde cultural movement, the leaders lost their jobs and were jailed. They challenged and significantly changed the language and the vocabulary used by contemporary writers to express their feelings in literature and painting.

The approach of the Hungryalists was to confront and disturb the prospective reader's preconceived colonial canons. According to Pradip Choudhuri, a leading philosopher and poet of the generation,whose works have been extensively translated in French, their counter-discourse was the first voice of post-colonial freedom of pen and brush. Besides the famous four mentioned above, Utpalkumar Basu, Binoy Majumdar, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Basudeb Dasgupta, Falguni Roy, Subhash Ghosh,Saileshwar Ghosh, Tridib Mitra, Alo Mitra, Arunesh Ghosh, Ramananda Chattopadhyay, Anil Karanjai, Karunanidhan Mukhopadhyay, Subo Acharya,were among the leading writers and artists of the movement.


The word Hungry was coined from Geoffrey Chaucer's line " In Sowere Hungry Tyme". The philosophical background of the movement was based on Oswald Spengler's idea of Non Linear Time in a particular culture. The span of the movement was from 1961-1965.The movement was launched in November 1961 from Patna residence of Malay Roychoudhury and his elder brother Samir Roychoudhury. Prof Swati Banerjee has done an M.Phil on the Hungryalist movement from Rabindrabharati University under the guidance of Dr. Amitabha Ray. It is wrong to suggest that the movement had influence from the Beat Generation, since Ginsberg visited Malay at Patna in April 1963. Poets Octavio Paz and Ernesto Cardinal had also visited Malay during the Sixties decade.


This movement is characterized by expression of closeness to nature and sometimes tenets of Gandhianism and Prudhonianism. Although it originated at Patna, Bihar and was initially based in Kolkata, it had participants spread over North Bengal, Tripura and Benares. The movement influenced Allen Ginsberg as much as it influenced American poetry through the Beat poets who visited Calcutta, Patna, Chaibasa And Benaras during the Sixties decade. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, now a professor and editor, was associated with the Hungry Generation movement. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Saileshwar Ghosh, Subhas Gosh left the movement in 1964. More than 100 manifestos were issued during 1961-65. Malay's poems have been published by P. Lal from his Writers Workshop publication. Howard McCord published Malay Roychoudhury's controversial poem Prachanda Boidyutik Chhutar i.e. Stark Electric Jesus from Washington State University in 1965. This poem has been translated in several languages of the world. In German by Carl Weissner, in Spanish by Margaret Randall, in Urdu by Ameeque Hanfee, in Assamese by Manik Dass, in Gujarati by Nalin Patel, in Hindi by Rajkamal Choudhury, in English by Howard McCord.


The works of these participants appeared in Citylights Journal 1, 2 and 3 published between 1964 and 1966, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and in special issues of American magazines including Kulchur edited by Lita Hornik, Klactoveedsedsteen edited by Carl Weissner, Elcorno Emplunado edited by Margaret Randall, Evergreen Review edited by Barney Rosset, Salted Feathers, Intrepid, and San Francisco Earthquake, during the Sixties.(See references) Hungry Generation also known as Hungryalism challenged the mainstream literary genres. The group wrote poetry and prose in completely different forms and experimented with the contents. The movement changed the literary atmosphere of Bengal altogether. It had influences in Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Telugu & Urdu literatures.(See references)


(1)The autobiography of Malay Roy Choudhury is available in Vol 215 of "Contemporary Authors" published by Thomson Gale. (ISBN 0-7876-6639-4) There are Hungry Generation Archives in Northwestern University in Illinois as well as Bangla Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At Kolkata the Little Magazine Library and Research Centre run by Sandip Dutta has a separate section on the Hungryalist publications as well as trial papers of the famous Hungry Generation case in which some of the colleagues of Malay turned against the movement and gave undertakings to have withdrawn from the movement. Trial papers archived in Bankshal Court, Kolkata (9th Court of Presidency Magistrate, Case No. GR. 579 of 1965; State of West Bengal Vs Malay Roy Choudhury)

(2)Hungry Kimbadanti written by Malay Roy Choudhury and published by De Books, Kolkata (1997)

(3)Hungry Andolon issue of Haowa#49 magazine (2003) edited by Samir Roychoudhury and Murshid A.M.


1. Hungry, Shruti And Shastravirodhi Movements by Dr Uttam Das, published by Mahadiganta Publishers, Baruipur, West Bengal, India. (1986).

2. Hungryalist Manifestoes by Ebadul Haque, published by Abar Eshechhi Phirey Publishers, Murshidabad, West Bengal, India. (2007).

3. Hungryalist Movement And Anti-Establishment by Prof Swati Banerjee, from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, (2007).


US and South American Periodicals.

City Lights Journal #1 (1963)pp.7-25; El Corno Emplumado #9 (1964)pp.153; El Corno Emplumado #10 (1964)pp.129-130; City Lights Journal #2 (1964)pp.117-130; Kulchur #15 (1964)pp.104-105; TIME (November 20, 1964)pp.44; El Corno Emplumado #13 (1965)pp.184-185; Evergreen Review #35 (March 1965)pp.10; Salted Feathers #5 (May 1965)pp.9; Salted Feathers #8 & 9 (March 1967)pp. All pages; City Lights Journal #3 (1966)pp.21-45; Trace #53 (1964)pp.31-43; El Rehilete #28 (1964)pp.47-54; Panaroma (February 1965); Iconolatre#10 (1968).

Indian Periodicals

Samprati #3 (1962); Chatushparna #Winter (1963); Mahenjodaro#Autumn (1963); Link#June,2 (1963); Link #June,30 (1963); Gyanodaya #Winter (1963); Darpan #July, 18 (1964); Jugantar July, 18 (1964); Jugantar July, 19, (1964); Amrita Shravana,8 (1371); Amrita August,7 (1964); Janata September,4 (1964); Ananda Bazar Patrika September, 4 (1964); Adhikaran #1 (1964); Jugantar September,7, Editorial, (1964); Ananda Bazar Patrika Septemcer, 5 (1964); Dainik Basumati September, 5 (1964); Dainik Basumati September,7 (1964); Ananda Bazar Patrika September,7 (1964); Ananda Bazar Patrika September 8, Cartoon, (1964); Janata September, 18 (1964); Blitz September, 19 (1964); Ananda Bazar Patrika September,30 (1964); Jalsa September, 30 (1964); Janata October, Cartoon, (1964); Bharatmail October, 22 (1964); Desh Ashwin, 10 (1371); Naranari Ashwin, (1371); Now November, 20 (1964); Darpan November, 27 (1964); Ananda Bazar Patrika December, 2 (1964); Now December, 18 (1964); The Statesman December, 20 (1964); The Statesman December, 30 (1964); Link December, 20 (1964); Maral January (1965); Lahar January, (1965); Dharmayug January, 17 (1965); Dharmayug February, 7 (1965); Dharmayug February, 14 (1965); Krittibas (1965); Dharmayug March 7, (1965); Dharmayug March, 18 (1965); Jugantar April, 15 Editorial (1965); The Statesman April, 20 (1965); Sanmarg April, 20 (1965); Gyanodaya April (1965); Dharmayug April, 18 (1965); Ananda Bazar Patrika April, 20 (1965); Dharmayug April, 25 (1965); The Statesman May, 4 (1965); Ananda Bazar Patrika May, 4 (1965); Yugaprabhat May (1965); Pratibimba May-August (1965); Ananda Bazar Patrika May, 14 (1965); Dinaman May, 16 (1965); Dharmayug May, 23 (1965); Dinaman June, 6 (1965); Saptahik Hindustan June, 13 (1965); Saptahik Hindustan June, 27 (1965); Dharmayug june, 27 (1965); Saptahik Hindustan July, 4 (1965); Janasatta July, 4 (1965); Jugantar August, 7 (1965); Saptahik Hindustan August, 22 (1965); Hindustan Standard August 10 (1965); Jugantar September, 6 (1965); The Statesman September, 26 (1965); Ingeet October, 3 (1965); Anima #2 (1965); Anima #4 (1965); Chatushparna Chaitra (1371); Link May, 8 (1966); The Searchlight December, 25 (1965); Desh Chaitra (1373); Nayee Dhara December (1966); Yugaprabhat February (1967); Karuj#7, (2003); Disha Autumn, (2003); Kabitirtha July, (2003); Amritalok November, (2003); Ekaler Raktakarabi June, (2004); Digangan Autumn, (2004); Ebang August-October, (2004); Kabitamancha#5 (2006)

Some Hungryalist poems

For Mala by Debi Ray

Malar Jonya tramslated by Howard McCord

Let me fall into your moving, delicate breasts.

Each one is a goblet of poison and pain

and only a handfull---

a little lump of flesh my palm can swallow.

A cheek. Look here!

This heart-lance, meek with 26 years---no anger, please.

Sit a while on the pillow of my lap.

Youth is that it should linger for ten summers.

The days are short that we are in the world.

Don't climb on the bridge.

Don't let your eyes follow the train

driven by electricity

Take me in your breasts and keep me from fear.

Let your hand touch my testicles.

I don't want to be hurt

and I am afraid of the knives and forks

on the tables of cafes.

I am much afraid of the bloodlessness

caught in te years' youth.

Relieve me, if you wish I will

buy you a bull-terrier

for the taste of your body.

We have only a few days

on this earth.

Only a few days.

Swimming With Henry Miller by Pradip Choudhuri

Henry Millerer Sangey Santar translated by Jyotirmoy Datta

Not much traffic here, I can easily remove my head from the trunk and lay it aside, move the buttoms from their place, can get entrapped without looking at my body, merely by lifting up my face from this cold sand in this cold sun, or else I run down the avenue, Hotel Du Mauriere, trash, trash, after that strange cold I feel out of sorts for days, nothing seems to jell, a coffeeless week, as I return to the Bengali language from my exile, or as I read Corso's poetry sitting at home, or swim in the bathtub with Henry Miller (nowadays I don't), naked, naturally, O God, I have to be at least about that even when turning non-human, or else my unspeakable chin has moved 1/5", constipation in 1965, someone tears my moustache and munches on them, rots in my skinbag the juice of wasted youth---crossing the sky, I walk alone deep in the heart of the sky---

A Poem by Subo Acharya

Ekti Kobita translated by Jyotirmoy Datta

Men do live and men do die

good men live and bad men too

bad men die and good men live

good men die and bad men live

how men come to harm and what is harm

the secret fever rises in my heart

my empty skull is crooked and tired

bones in my cracked skin also crack

men do live and men do die.

I And by Tridib Mitra

Aami Ebang translated by poet

Autumn's phantasmagoric tempest

I at the door of 1964

wooden knocks--who are you wood pecker?

What is this?

Shocked vision

chances dreams haha reality's become more dense


still boozed in love?


another revolt squanders like 1857 thrashes

Fire in Shantiniketan, fire here at Calcutta

In Midnapore Shyambazar Khalasitola

Fire in eyes face heart cock

This fireball gnarring

in happiness hatred pain intellect dream reality

All---junk--ho ho smokenet---

tinsel like groundnut

all around chirping

afar angry shadows roar, flounder on earth...

See also

  • The Hungry Generation (TIME 1964)
  • Hungry Generation Archive.
  • Life Story of the Founder of the Movement.
  • Bibliography on the Subject.
  • Selected Hungry Generation Poems.
  • Translated Hungry Generation Poems.
  • 19780002.htmlHungry Generation Court Verdict.
  • Hungry Generation Correspondence.

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