E.Dawson Varughese, author of Beyond The Postcolonial: World Englishes Literature (2012) is an experienced field researcher of world literature in English. She is the editor of numerous anthologies of short stories from such countries as Cameroon, Uganda and Malaysia. Her recent book, Reading New India: Post-millennial Indian Fiction in English (Bloomsbury, India, 2013) has been quite well-received.
In this exclusive interview with Kitaab, she talks about the state of Indian writing in English and what does its future look like.
Your book Reading New India (2013) is a work of important scholarship. What motivated you to take upon yourself such a great challenge, given the extensive output of published fiction in India in the last two decades?
E.Dawson Varughese: As we moved further into the noughties, it became clear to me that social, cultural and economic changes within Indian society were significantly impacting on the Indian fiction in English scene of this ‘New India’ and that this in itself was worth writing about. It was as I left Mumbai in 2009 that I knew a book was needed in order to capture this growing body of new writing in English from India as I couldn’t find a book doing just that. I also knew that it needed to be a book which was settled as much as possible in India whilst remaining accessible for readers outside of that market in order to learn of new trends in post-millennial Indian writing. Reading New India (2013) was launched at the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2013 and a year later an Indian edition of the book was published, launched by the Bloomsbury New Delhi office. I’m particularly pleased about the Indian edition being made available as this book in my mind at least, has always been anchored in India and I’ve particularly enjoyed the lectures I have given to students around India following the Indian edition release. The students really get into the debates of what it means to be writing and reading ‘New (and young) India’. Reading New India (2013) challenges the idea that Indian literature is that body of writing which is known within the US, UK (or Australia); I think that it is really important to cultivate awareness of this body of new, post-millennial writing from India as widely as possible.