Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Essays on Indian fiction

Over the last three years I've written about Indian fiction new, old, and ancient on this site, from Dandin to Jhumpa Lahiri, Fakir Mohan Senapati to Vikram Chandra, and I'm putting all these pieces together in one place here, and will keep updating it with new essays and reviews.

You will find that although there are many general remarks about the nature and the craft of fiction in these essays, my ideas about Indian fiction as a distinct category are usually implied rather than stated. Some of the novels listed here I admired enormously, others I found very poor; some of the novelists are names that rove the world, others are known only at home or are now forgotten; some write in English, others are read in translation from other Indian languages. Wherever possible I have tried to use long quotes to support my judgments, and where some aspect of a writer's work has struck me as being especially significant, beautiful, or innovative, I have tried to burrow away at that instead of writing a more general review. Here is the full list:

English and Hindi in Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games, on Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, The double darkness of Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, On Surender Mohan Pathak's The Sixty-Five Lakh Heist, Seventh century Indian life in Dandin's Dasakumaracharita, On Amitava Kumar's Home Products, Fakir Mohan Senapati's roundabout fictions, Anjum Hasan and the Indian Shakespeare, On Kamala Markandaya's Nectar In A Sieve, Schoolmasters and accountants in the fiction of Kunal Basu, Home and Away in Anuradha Roy's An Atlas of Impossible Longing, On Altaf Tyrewala's No God In Sight, The world of Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay, On Mridula Koshy's If It Is Sweet, Kingdoms and Prisons in Jahnavi Barua's Next Door, On Vinod George Joseph's Hitchhiker, On Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi's The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay, Mathematics and rebellion in Nikita Lalwani's Gifted, Attia Hosain's lost world, On Kiran Nagarkar's God's Little Soldier,Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay's language of love, On Siddharth Chowdhury's Patna Roughcut, On Deepak Chopra's Buddha, The stories of Parashuram, Poetry As Medicine In Ashvaghosha's Handsome Nanda, On Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games, On Hamid Dalwai's Fuel, On Manohar Shyam Joshi's T'ta Professor, Life winding down in Cather and Saratchandra, On Nalini Jones's What You Call Winter, Irrelevant detail in the fiction of Raj Kamal Jha, On Aravind Adiga's Between The Assassinations, and On Manil Suri's The Age of Shiva.

And, since it seems slightly absurd to draw the line of classification upon the line of a nation-state and ignore many civilizational links and continuities, here are some other essays on works of fiction by Nepali, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani writers: On Samrat Upadhyay's The Royal Ghosts, On Tahmima Anam's A Golden Age, On Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, On Manjushree Thapa's Tilled Earth, On Shobasakthi's Gorilla, and lastly, Pervez Musharraf's In The Line of Fire, one of the greatest of modern Asian bildungsromans.


Anonymous said...

Hello, I enjoy your blog immensely. I just came across an award for Indian Writers in English. I read a couple of them I was just wondering if you could let me know if you're read any one of these. I like their idea of rewarding Indian Writers.

They also have a very distinguished jury.

Chandrahas said...

Sushumna - I wasn't aware of this prize. I took a look at the site and they appear to have a fairly convoluted method of arriving at a conclusion. But all these things are good for Indian fiction. I haven't read any of the books on the shortlist, but I one I want to read the most is KR Usha's A Girl And A River, which won this year's Crossword Fiction Prize.