My Shapeshifting JourneySamir Chopra
with a Foreword by Mukul Kesavan
Samir Chopra is an immigrant, a “voluntary exile,” who discovers he can tell the story of his life through cricket, a game that has long been an influence—really, an obsession—for him. In so doing, he reveals how his changing views on the sport mirror his journey of self-discovery. In The Evolution of a Cricket Fan, Chopra is thus able to reflect on his changing perceptions of self, and of the nations and cultures that have shaped his identity, politics, displacement, and fandom.
Chopra’s passion for the sport began as a child, when he rooted for Pakistan and against his native India. When he migrated, he became a fan of the Indian team that gave him a sense of home among the various cultures he encountered in North America and Australia. This “shapeshifting” exposes the rift between the Old and the New world, which Chopra acknowledges is “cricket’s greatest modern crisis.” But it also illuminates the identity dilemmas of post-colonial immigrants in the Indian diaspora.
Chopra’s thoughts about the sport and its global influence are not those of a player. He provides access to the inner world of the global cricket fan navigating the world that colonial empire wrought and that cricket continues to connect and animate. He observes that the Indian cricket team carries many burdens—not only must they win cricket matches, but their style of play must generate a pride that assuages generations of wounds inflicted by history. And Chopra must navigate where he stands in that history.
The Evolution of a Cricket Fan shows Chopra’s own wins and losses as his life takes new directions and his fandom changes allegiances.
“Samir Chopra is one of cricket’s most distinctive voices. His work is a unique weave of close analysis, broad perspective, and unflinching self-inquiry. He provides himself as a case study of the relationships that fans form with cricket, which are far more ambivalent and volatile than is commonly imagined. He reconnects with that most intimately mysterious of personages: ourselves when young. Everything Samir writes is worth reading, but The Evolution of a Cricket Fan is especially so, because the sentiments he elucidates are genuinely universal.”
— GIDEON HAIGH, author of On Warne and Mystery Spinner: The Life and Death of an Extraordinary Cricketer
“This is not the story of the average cricket fan—thank God for that—but anyone who has been consigned by defeat into day-darkening depression or transported by victory to a hallucinogenic high will read this book grinning or grimacing with recognition. Cricket’s literature is rich with magisterial histories; it now has a wonderful, maverick, coming-of-age story that lives and breathes the game.”
—From the Foreword by MUKUL KESAVAN
As an international cultural activity for athleticism, spectatorship, and global cultural exchange, sport is unmatched by any other force on earth. And yet it remains a consistently understudied dimension of history and cultural studies. Sporting, edited by Amy Bass, aims to contribute to the study of sport by publishing works by people across a range of disciplines, by professional sportswriters, and by athletes to add substance to our still emerging notion of globalization.
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