The idea of the global novel can obscure the many ways in which African and Asian writers still grapple with the traumas of the postcolonial world, argues Pankaj Mishra in the FT.
Large economic and demographic shifts since the 1980s have brought a new generation of writers to the fore, besides spurring the rapid growth of such genres as mystery, science fiction and – in India, at least – “mythological thriller”. A growing Indian readership today sustains much outstanding and un-exportable writing in English as well as indigenous languages. Readings, writing workshops and panel discussions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria draw immense crowds – of aspiring writers and serious readers as well as celebrity-spotters. One upshot of this flaring of energy and ambition in places long considered hopeless or stagnant is that the globalised Asian and African intelligentsia, once programmed to boost the west’s most flattering self-images, is now politically more recalcitrant and internally diverse.