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MODERN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH

Paul Brians

GREENWOOD PRESS

MODERN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH

Recent Titles in Literature as Windows to World Cultures Latino Literature in America Bridget Kevane

MODERN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH

Paul Brians

Literature as Windows to World Cultures

GREENWOOD PRESS Westport, Connecticut • London

Library ofCongress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Brians, Paul. Modern South Asian Literature in English / by Paul Brians. p. cm. — (Literature as windows to world cultures) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0–313–32011–X (alk. paper) 1. Indic literature (English)—History and criticism. 2. Indic literature (English)—South Asian Authors—History and criticism. I. Title II. Series. PR9484.6.B752003 820.9'954—dc21 2003052842 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. Copyright © 2003 by Paul Brians All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, by any process or technique, without the express written consent of the publisher. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2003052842 ISBN: 0–313–32011–X ISSN: 1543–9968 First published in 2003 Greenwood Press, 88Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. www.greenwood.com Printed in the United States of America

The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39.48–1984). 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 The Fiction ofRabindranath Tagore: Quartet (1915) Raja Rao: Kanthapura (1938) Khushwant Singh: Train to Pakistan (1956) R. K. Narayan: The Guide (1958) Attia Hosain: Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961) Anita Desai: Games at Twilight (1978) Bapsi Sidhwa: Cracking India (1988) Bharati Mukherjee: Jasmine (1989) Salman Rushdie: East, West (1994) Shyam Selvadurai: Funny Boy (1994) Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance(1996) Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things (1997) Michael Ondaatje: Anil’s Ghost (2000)

vii 3 11 27 47 59 75 87 99 111 129 147 155 165 177

vi

Contents

14 15

Jhumpa Lahiri: Interpreter of Maladies (2000) Manil Suri: The Death of Vishnu (2001)

195 205 219 243

Glossary of Terms Index

Acknowledgments

I owe a profound debt to the dozens of members of the SASIALIT Internetdiscussion list, more than it would be possible to name here, who generously answered queries. I am especially grateful for extraordinary assistance received from Sue Darlow, Uma Parameswaran, and Balaji Venkateswaran. Bapsi Sidhwa kindly provided definitions of various Parsi terms. Local readers whose advice I value include Azfar Hussain, Shila Baksi, and especially Fritz Blackwell, who worked onmore parts of this study than anyone else. Finally, special thanks to my first reader, adviser, and editor: my wife, Paula Elliot.

MODERN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH

Introduction

South Asian culture has become highly popular around the world. Films like Monsoon Wedding and Lagaan have reached large audiences. The world of Indian popular films is the subject of a London musicalcalled Bombay Dreams, and young women from New York to Los Angeles are having their hands decorated with intricate traditional henna designs. South Asia is now chic in the West in the way that Japan was a decade ago. But preceding and expanding beyond these pop-culture influences is a profound and ever-growing international appetite for fiction by South Asian authors. Names like Rushdie, Mukherjee,and Roy are familiar to anyone with a passing interest in contemporary writing, appearing frequently as they do on bestseller lists and winning prestigious awards. This volume will assist readers who want to begin to explore the rich, varied, and fascinating worlds of modern South Asian fiction. “South Asia” is a term that includes several nations, but for the purposes of this volume, it refers...
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