Although it is mainly diasporic writers who have made Indian English writing global, and have translated works into many other languages, there are many others ignored by the media, the government and other establishments.

by Aju Mukhopadhyay

tagoreWhat is Indian English Literature?

Indian English Literature is the work of Indian-origin poets and writers writing in English, and living anywhere around the globe. They usually have similar mindsets, especially when writing about, or referring to India. Meenakshi Mukherjee has said that it is born out of Indian and English parentage–thus twice- born1. Another writer, Maria Tymoczko, thinks that it is born out of one culture and expressed in another2. Their opinions carry the idea of translation, but it may be said that there is exactly no question of translation as such, because when the creation is one’s own and not an independent version or expression of another’s creative production, albeit in a language not one’s own, the creative product is a trans-lingual/cultural endeavor. When an Indian writes his Indian experience in a foreign language it can be said to be a trans-cultural creative process. The history of this expanding literature has covered more than 200 years.

kanthapuraIf you were to ask the average Indian reader today whom they consider the pioneer of Indian writing in English, most answers would point to an author with the initials ‘CB’. If you were to ask a student of Indian English Literature, chances are that Raja Rao’s name would never come up as an answer. In fact, even for those who have heard of him, their engagement with his work is usually limited to hearing a passing mention in a ‘History of Indian English Literature’ class. It was the case with me.

Raising the stakes for Indian writing in English: The Caravan

Amitava_KumarHere is my own manifesto for Indian writing. I hereby call for a literature that engages with “the real”: not just the depiction of blood on the streets, or, for that matter, the cold air of the morgue, but also the warm, somewhat moist atmosphere of unwanted intimacy in the waiting room in which we have left behind a little bit of our past. Like the political parties, I too am trying to project myself to my home base.

The title of my novel Home Products, published back in 2007, was drawn from a quote by Mark Twain: “To my mind, one relative or neighbour mixed up in a scandal is more interesting than a whole Sodom and Gomorrah of outlanders gone rotten. Give me the home product every time.” But the title had always had another meaning for me. It was meant to signal that the story wasn’t for export. It was for readers in India. In fact, when people read it I wanted them to imagine that the novel could have been written in Hindi.

Dr. Nazia Hasan reviews Reading New India: Post-millennial Indian Fiction in English by E. Dawson Varughese (Bloomsbury: London, 2013)

ReadingNewIndiaAll blood and gore apart, Reading New India: Post-Millennial Indian Fiction in English by E. Dawson Varughese is a very patriotic book, written in a post-colonial temperament. The Hindustaani expression “dil se” hooks you effortlessly. It is obvious in many ways, the first being the red line that accompanies as I type each word…the baffling response of the computer to each part of the author’s name. But as the sea goes calm after a tempest, now the red mark of doubt/incomprehension sticks to the surname only, it is accepting most of the things coming in its range. The new millennium announced its arrival with various new ideas and concepts, strewing them around; we collected some in a rush, some in a thoughtful mode. So does the world to any evolving culture and ideology.