The Mammaries of the Welfare State
First edition
AuthorUpamanyu Chatterjee
PublisherViking Press
Publication date
Pages437 pp
823/.914 21
LC ClassPR9499.3.C4665 M36 2000
Preceded byEnglish, August 

The Mammaries of the Welfare State is an English-language Indian novel, the sequel to Upamanyu Chatterjee’s debut novel, English, August, also told from the perspective of the fictional character Agastya Sen.[1] It won the Sahitya Akademi Award (English) in 2004.[2] The novel tells the story of political bureaucracy in the fictional state of Madna when an epidemic breaks out.[3] The title derives from a line of dialog in the novel, where a civil servant states "In my eight years of service, I haven’t come across a single case in which everybody concerned didn’t try to milk dry the boobs of the Welfare State"[3]

Critical reception

Anand Vardhan states that the novel anticipated India's initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic in its portrayal of a pandemic where civil servants are preoccupied more with "procedure and spin".[3] Anjana Sharma, writing for The Hindu, says that it "dares to voice a moral outrage that very rarely finds its way into fiction".[4] Various reviews praise the humour of the novel as a "hilarious satire",[5] "funny"[6] and "a book of laughter and disgust".[1]

It received some criticism for its structure, focus and length. Vardhan criticizes the novel's "scattered plot and meandering narratives",[3] while Sharma concurs that it is "a bit repetitive".[4] The Modern Novel states that it "does drag out somewhat" and "you just want him to get on with the story. Which he doesn’t."[6]


  1. ^ a b Prasannarajan, S. (2 July 2012). "Book review: The Mammaries of the Welfare State by Agastya Sen". India Today. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Awards listings". Sahitya Akademi, Official website.
  3. ^ a b c d Vardhan, Anand. "A mess foretold: Reading Mammaries of the Welfare State amid a pandemic". Newslaundry. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b "The Mammaries of the Welfare State - Upamanyu Chatterjee". Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  5. ^ Sandhu, Nirmal (7 January 2001). "India's uncivil service". The Tribune. Retrieved 10 June 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b "Chatterjee: The Mammaries of the Welfare State | The Modern Novel". Retrieved 10 June 2021.