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An Anthology

of
Indian Diaspora Writers

Swati Srivastava

This book is dedicated to my brothers,


Anurag, Ankur, Ankit

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I gratefully acknowledge my loving, supportive, husband Dr.Avneesh
Kumar Singh whose continuous faithful support and presence during the
writing of this book is so appreciated. His guidance, valuable suggestions
and constructive criticism mingled with inexhaustible sympathy proved to be
perennial source of inspiration to me throughout the course of my research
work. I express a deep sense of gratitude to him.
A special thanks to my family. Words cannot express how
grateful I am to my mother for all of the sacrifices that youve made on my
behalf. Your prayer for me was what sustained me thus far. I would also
like to thank to my beloved sister, her husband and son Paarth.
Finally, I thank my God, my good Father, for letting me through all
the difficulties. I have experienced your guidance day by day. You are the
one who let me finish my degree. I will keep on trusting you for my future.
Thank you.

Index
Tables of Content
Introduction
Kamala Markandaya (1924 -2004)
2

Nayantara Sahgal
Anita Desai
Arun Joshi (1939 - 1993)
Bharati Mukherjee
Farrukh Dhondy
Salman Rushie an Inspiration to Indian Novelists
Vikram Seth
Rohinton Mistry
Shashi Tharoor
Amitav Ghosh
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Firdaus Kanga
Vikram Chandra
Suketu Mehta
Shauna Singh Baldwin
Jhumpa Lahiri
Kiran Desai
Conclusion
Bibliography

Introduction
Indian writers in English are known today particularly for their
achievements in writing fiction. During the recent decades, Indian writing has
evoked a widespread interest in India and abroad. After the 1950s, Indian English
novelists interest moved from the public sphere, and most of them renounced the

larger world in favour of the inner man and engaged themselves in a search for the
essence of human beings.
Indian Fiction in English did not assume the present shape overnight, but resulted
from a series of ceaseless, howsoever unobtrusive, experimentations and
innovations taking place surreptitiously. R.K. Narayan remarked:
We are all experimentalists. We are not attempting to write Anglo Saxon
English. The English Language, through sheer resilience and mobility, is
now undergoing a process of indianization in the same manner as it adopted
U.S. citizenship over a century ago I cannot say whether the process of
transmutation is to be viewed as an enrichment of the English Language or a
debasement of it (1965 123).
Novelists like Anita Desai, Arun Joshi and Nayantara Sahgal busied
themselves with the exploration of modern mans predicament and took their
readers into the recesses of their characters psyche. This gradual shift from the
external world to the inner world ushered in an undoubtedly important phase in the
growth of fiction in India, as elsewhere. The phase was heralded by the publication
of Salman Rushdies masterpiece, Midnights Children, in 1980, which changed
the very complexion of Indian English fiction in respect of both theme and
structure.
Rushdies novel inspired a generation of Indian novelists including Amitav
Ghosh, Bharati Mukherjee, Vikram Seth, Allan Sealy, Upamanyu Chatterjee,
Shauna Singh Baldwin, Shashi Tharoor, Farrukh Dhondy, Rohinton Mistry and
Firdaus Kanga. The New York Times of December 16, 1991 designated these
novelists as Rushdies children. As Anthony Spaeth would put it, they have
made serious efforts to redefine English prose with myths, humor or themes as
vast as the subcontinent. Rushdie himself told an interviewer in 1982: I think we
are in a position to conquer English Literature. This has resulted in significant
changes in perceptions of history, social ethos, culture and politics of the nation.
The main purpose of this book is explored the Indian immigrant writers and
how migrant cultures express global belonging in multiple national sphere.
However, work on immigrants has needed to overcome the fixation on lands of
settlement as defining its object, and studies of diaspora have taken nation to mean
homeland, there has been a great deal of emphasis on how Indian immigrants
develop relationships with their motherland, India.
The Indian immigrant, in both the United States and England, in urban and
rural residential communities, in business and education and even in politics is
locally visible and recognized. Indian diaspora formed by migrations enables us to
discuss and analyze in a new way.
4

Migration was a common phenomenon in the twentieth century. People


moved for multiple reasons from their native land and adopted different cultures,
languages and traditions as their own. Derived from the Greek verb Speiro that
means to sow and the preposition dia over, the term Diaspora has many meanings.
It is symbolic of indentured labour of the late 19th and 20th century. It is a forced
exodus of the millions of Jews under racist forces. If it implies dislocation, it also
signifies renewal. It is laced with the anxiety of belonging and unbelonging. People
have moved in the hope of bettering themselves or under severe economic
compulsions at home. Desire for knowledge and curiosity to explore is also an
important cause for the increased mobility. Crossing the seas was assign of
defilement and pollution and strictly prohibited in the Hindu scriptures. In the early
sixteenth and even as late as the nineteenth century, few people dared to venture
abroad and emigration was a source of inevitable ex- communication for the
Brahmins. Large-scale migration of Indians took place in the twentieth century
only. Indians constitute one of the largest immigrant groups with a sizeable
population in different parts of the world. Indian emigration to the developed
countries is post independence phenomenon. It is an attempt to establish
themselves as successful professionals and businesspersons Indians have had to
undergo massive pressures from within and without. Through sheer hard work and
brilliance, they have earned respect and admiration in the fields of science and
technology. This book shall look at the contribution of the Indian Diaspora writers
in English. Writers from the Indian diaspora explore the anxiety and the desire to
belong. Diaspora means dislocation on the one hand but it is also a sign of renewal
on the other.
The transnational migration of Indians during the colonial and the
postcolonial times resulted in what today constitutes the Indian diaspora. Bill
Ashcroft et al. define diaspora as the voluntary or forcible movements of peoples
from their homelands into new regions (1985 68). Robert Cohen describes
diasporas as the communities of people living together in one country who
acknowledge that the old country always has some claim on their loyalty and
emotions (1997 IX).
Hence, the diasporas and their descendant experience displacement, fragmentation,
marginalization, discontinuity in the alien land and their hyphenated identities is a
painful dilemma. There is a longing for home, to go back to lost origin; imaginary
homelands are created from the fragmentary and partial memories of their
homeland. They even face cultural dilemmas when their cultural practices are
mocked at and there is a threat to their cultural identity. Women in particular face
dislocation at multiple levels, their identity as a wife, and mother within the private
sphere. In addition, as brown, non-working, tradition bound Indian in the public
5

sphere is a constant site of struggle. Women experience ennui and boredom and in
order to escape from apathy and indifference they even recreate themselves in a
new milieu.
The literature of the Indian Diaspora is today as solidly palpable as are the
border crossers, marginals, mimic men and hybridized migrs. Meanwhile,
Literature, whether diasporic or not, has taken up new themes and challenges but
its function still remains the same, to humanize.
What Indian diaspora confronts in this moment, what it has always
confronted, is a simultaneous nationalism and internationalism. The nonresident
Indian, popularly called NRI it is precisely the NRIs citizenship in and of the
world, and all the influences that inhere therein, that have made him both a
powerful preoccupation of the Indian nation state, and also a site of anxiety for
those concerned with a purer relationship to homeland. Even earlier, in 1950,
Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru articulated a develop mentalist vision of
multiple nations and cultures: One can see each nation and each separate
civilization developing its own culture that had its roots in generations hundreds
and thousands of years ago That conception is affected by other conceptions and
one sees action and interaction between these varying conceptions. There is, I
suppose, no culture in the world, which is pristine, pure and unaffected by any
other culture (1954). Indian Diaspora, which seeks to conceptually encompass
Indian cultures abroad from the 1950s to the present day, across three different
nations. As Avtar Brah, has precisely distinguished: The concept of diaspora
concerns the historically variable forms of relationality within and between
diasporic formations. She notes further that diaspora specifies a matrix of
economic, political and cultural inter relationships which construct the
commonality between the various components of a dispersed group and delineates
a field of identifications where imagined communities are forged within and out
of a confluence of narratives (1996 183).
Postcolonial focuses on global mixing of cultures and identities. It employs a
variety of conceptual terms and categories of analysis, which examine subtle
interactions between the colonizer and the colonized. The term hybridity and
diaspora stand out for their versatility and resilience. The idea of hybridity is
derived from Fanon who argues that colonial oppression acts as a catalyst for
mutation of colonized societies. The decolonizing project radically upsets the old
cultural patterns. The old habits give way to new attitudes, to new modes of
action, to new ways (1965 64).
Postcolonial studies are preoccupied with issues of hybridity, creolization,
in- betweenness, diasporas and liminality, with the mobility and cross - overs of
6

ideas and identities generated by colonialism. Robert Young reminds us that a


hybrid is technically a cross between two different species. The term hybridization
evokes both the botanical notion of inter species grafting and the vocabulary of
the Victorian extreme right which regarded different races as different species
(1995 10). Pedro Fermin de Vargas advocated a policy of interbreeding between
Whites and Indians in order to hispanicise and finally extinguish Indians. Benedict
rightly characterizes as mental miscegenation those colonial educational policies,
which aimed to create. Europeanized natives or, to use Macaulays words, a class
of persons, Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinion, in morals
and in intellect (1972 91). The underlying premise was that an Indian could
mimic but never exactly reproduce English values. The idea of colonial hybridity
was based on cultural purity and aimed at stabilizing the status quo.
Displacement, whether forced or self-imposed, is in many ways a calamity.
Yet, a peculiar but a potent point to note is that writers in their displaced existence
generally tend to excel in their work, as if the changed atmosphere acts as a
stimulant for them. These writings in dislocated circumstances are often termed as
exile literature. The word exile has negative connotations but if the self-exile of
a Byron is considered, then the response to that very word becomes ambivalent. If
a holistic view of the word exile is taken, the definition would include migrant
writers and non-resident writers and even gallivanting writers who roam about for
better pastures to graze and fill their oeuvre. World literature has an abundance of
writers whose writings have prospered while they were in exile. Although it would
be preposterous to assume the vice-versa that exiled writers would not have
prospered had they not been in exile, the fact in the former statement cannot be
denied. Cultural theorists and literary critics are all alike in this view.
The study of world literature might be the study of the way in which cultures
recognize themselves through their projections of otherness. Where, once,
the transmission of national traditions was the major theme of a world
literature, perhaps we can now suggest that transnational histories of
migrants, the colonized or political refugees these border and frontier
conditions may be the terrains of world literature. (Bhabha 12)
The diasporic production of cultural meanings occurs in many areas, such as
contemporary music, film, theatre and dance, but writing is one of the most
interesting and strategic ways in which diaspora might disrupt the binary of
local and global and problematize national, racial and ethnic formulations of
identity.(Ashcroft 218)
The Indian-English writers, notably, Raja Rao became an expatriate even
before the independence of the country; G. V. Desani was born in Kenya and lived
7

in England, India, and USA; and Kamala Markandaya married an Englishman and
lived in Britain (ref. Mehrotra 180, 186, 226). Nirad C. Chaudhuri preferred the
English shores because his views were not readily accepted in India. Salman
Rushdies imaginary homeland encompasses the world over. The Iranian
fatwa phase has added a new dimension to Rushdies exilic condition. Colonial
and post-colonial India are divisions that are now more relevant to a historian than
a littrateur because Indian-English literature has transcended the barriers of petty
classifications and has become almost become part of mainstream English
literature. A major contribution in this regard has been that of the Indian writers,
like Rushdie and Naipaul, who live as world citizens a global manifestation of
the exilic condition. Indian-English writers like Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee,
Shashi Tharoor, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Sunetra Gupta, Rohinton Mistry,
Jhumpa Lahiri, and Hari Kunzru have all made their names while residing abroad.
The non-resident Indian writers have explored their sense of displacementa
perennial theme in all exile literature. They have given more poignancy to the
exploration by dealing not only with a geographical dislocation but also a sociocultural sense of displacement. Their concerns are global concerns as todays
world is afflicted with the problems of immigrants, refugees, and all other exiles.
These exilic states give birth to the sense of displacement and rootlessness.
The Indian diaspora has been formed by a scattering of population and not,
in the Jewish sense, an exodus of population at a particular point in time. This
sporadic migration traces a steady pattern if a telescopic view is taken over a
period of time: from the indentured labourers of the past to the IT technocrats of
the present day. Sudesh Mishra in his essay From Sugar to Masala divides the
Indian diaspora into two categories the old and the new. He writes that:
It is interesting to note that the history of diasporic Indian writing is as old as
the diaspora itself. In fact the first Indian writing in English is credited to Dean
Mahomed, who was born in Patna, India, and after working for fifteen years in the
Bengal Army of the British East India Company, migrated to eighteenth century
Ireland, and then to England (Kumar xx) in 1784. His book The Travels of Dean
Mahomet was published in 1794. It predates by about forty years the first English
text written by an Indian residing in India, Kylas Chunder Dutts imaginary
history A Journal of Forty-Eight Hours of the Year 1945 published in 1835 (ref.
Mehrotra 95). The first Indian English novel, Bankimchandra Chatterjees
Rajmohans Wife, was to be published much later in 1864. It shows that the
contribution of the Indian diaspora to Indian writing in English is not new. Also
interestingly, the descendants of the Indian indentured labourers in the so called
girmit colonies have predominantly favoured writing in English, the lingua
franca of the world. The likes of Seepersad Naipaul and later Shiva Naipaul, V. S.
8

Naipaul, Cyril Dabydeen, David Dabydeen, Sam Selvon, M. G. Vassanji,


Subramani, K. S. Maniam, Shani Muthoo, and Marina Budhos are significant
contributors in that field.
V. S. Naipauls characters, like Mohun Biswas from A House for Mr. Biswas
or Ganesh Ramsumair from The Mystic Masseur, are examples of individuals who
are generations away from their original homeland, India, but their heritage gives
them a consciousness of their past. They become itinerant specimen of the
outsider, the unhoused, for the world to see. Their attempts at fixity are
continuously challenged by the contingency of their restless existence a condition
grown out of their forefathers migration, albeit within the Empire, from India to
Trinidad. Naipauls characters are not governed by actual dislocation but by an
inherited memory of dislocation. For them their homeland India is not a
geographical space but a construct of imagination. Their predicament can be
explained in Rushdies words: the past is a country from which we have all
emigrated, that its loss is part of our common humanity (12). The novels of the
older generation of diasporic Indian writers like Raja Rao, G. V. Desani, Santha
Rama Rau, Balachandra Rajan, Nirad Chaudhuri, and Ved Mehta predominantly
look back at India and rarely record their experiences away from India as
expatriates. It is as if these writers have discovered their Indianness when they are
out of India. Obviously they have the advantage of looking at their homeland from
the outside. The distance affords them the detachment that is so necessary to have a
clear perception of their native land. In that sense, through their writing, they help
to define India.
Makarand Paranjape notes that instead of worshipping the leftovers and
relics of a now inaccessible homeland as the old diaspora of indentured labourers
did, the new diaspora of international Indian English writers live close to their
market, in the comforts of the suburbia of advanced capital but draw their raw
material from the inexhaustible imaginative resources of that messy and disorderly
subcontinent that is India (252). These writers record their away from India
experiences and even if they look back at their homeland it is often in an elegiac
tone rather than with nostalgia. Paranjape explicates this point in considering the
novels of Rohinton Mistry (251). Ultimately Indian writers in the West are
increasingly identifying themselves with the literary tradition of the migrant
writers of the world. Rushdie says that Swift, Conrad, Marx [and even Melville,
Hemingway, Bellow] are as much our literary forebears as Tagore or Ram Mohan
Roy (20). The modern diasporic Indian writers can be grouped into two distinct
classes. One class comprises those who have spent a part of their life in India and
have carried the baggage of their native land offshore. The other class comprises
those who have been bred since childhood outside India. They have had a view of
9

their country only from the outside as an exotic place of their origin. The writers of
the former group have a literal displacement whereas those belonging to the latter
group find themselves rootless. Both the groups of writers have produced an
enviable corpus of English literature. These writers while depicting migrant
characters in their fiction explore the theme of displacement and self-fashioning.
The diasporic Indian writers depiction of dislocated characters gains immense
importance if seen against the geo-political background of the vast Indian
subcontinent. That is precisely why such works have a global readership and an
enduring appeal. The diasporic Indian writers have generally dealt with characters
from their own displaced community but some of them have also taken a liking for
Western characters and they have been convincing in dealing with them. Two of
Vikram Seths novels The Golden Gate and An Equal Music have as their subjects
exclusively the lives of Americans and Europeans respectively.
Two of the earliest novels that have successfully depicted diasporic Indian
characters are Anita Desais Bye-Bye Blackbird and Kamala Markandayas The
Nowhere Man. These novels depict how racial prejudice against Indians in the UK
of the 1960s alienates the characters and aggravate their sense of displacement.
Bharati Mukherjees novels like Wife and Jasmine depict Indians in the US the
land of immigrants, both legal and illegal before globalization got its impetus.
Salman Rushdie in the novel The Satanic Verses approaches the allegory of
migration by adopting the technique of magic realism. The physical transformation
of Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha after their fall from the bursting jumbo
jet on the English Channel is symbolic of the self-fashioning that immigrants have
to undergo in their adopted country. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in her novel The
Mistress of Spices depicts Tilo, the protagonist, as an exotic character to bring out
the migrants angst. Amitav Ghoshs novel The Shadow Lines has the character Ila
whose father is a roaming diplomat and whose upbringing has been totally on
foreign soils. She finds herself as much out of place in India as any foreigner. But
when she conjures up the story of her doppelganger Magda being rescued by Nick
Price from Denise, it shows the extent of her sense of rootlessness. Amit
Chaudhuri in his novel Afternoon Raag portrays the lives of Indian students in
Oxford. Similarly, Anita Desai in the second part of her novel Fasting, Feasting
depicts Arun as a migrant student living in the suburbs of Massachusetts. The
important point to note is that in a cosmopolitan world one cannot literally be a
cultural and social outsider in a foreign land. There are advantages of living as a
migrant the privilege of having a double perspective, of being able to experience
diverse cultural mores, of getting the leverage provided by the networking within
the diasporic community, and more. But it is often these advantages that make
diasporic Indians, especially of the second generation, encounter the predicament
10

of dual identities. Such ambivalence produces existential angst in their psychology.


The world simply refuses to become less complex.
The diasporic Indian writers of the first generation have already established
their credentials by winning numerous literary awards and honours. But recently
the ranks of the second generation of Indian writers in the West have swelled
enormously and many among them have won international recognition. Meera
Syal, who was born in England, has successfully represented the lives of first
generation as well as second generation non-resident Indians in the West in her
novels Anita and Me and Life Isnt All Ha Ha Hee Hee. Hari Kunzru in his novel
Transmission traces a part of the lives of three diverse characters Leela Zahir, an
actress, Arjun Mehta, a computer expert, and Guy Swift, a marketing executive
traversing through Bollywood, the Silicon Valley, and London. Sunetra Gupta has
shown with candor both the unpleasantness and the pleasantness of intercultural
relationships through characters like Moni and Niharika from her novels Memories
of Rain and A Sin of Colour. Jhumpa Lahiris book of short stories Interpreter of
Maladies and her novel The Namesake convincingly illustrate the lives of both first
generation and second generation Indian migrants in the US. This is possible
because big issues like religious intolerance and racial discrimination are no longer
the main concern of these writers. What matters now in the current world are the
small things. Little, unacknowledged things gain enormous importance in changed
circumstances. It is here that the differing reactions by Indian, Western, and
diasporic characters towards similar situations are found to differ only
superficially. It demonstrates that the inner needs of all human beings are the same.
Alienation is a part of the experience of the Indian diaspora and even if people are
at home in any part of the world it does not mean that they will not become victims
of the sense of alienation. Increasing acceptance into the host society does not
indicate that that the diasporic characters can feel at home. Social alienation is
replaced by metaphysical alienation.

Kamala Markandaya (1924 -2004)


Kamala Markandaya was born in 1924 in Mysore, India was pseudonym
used by Kamala Purnaiya Taylor, an Indian novelist and journalist. A native of
Mysore, India, Markandaya was a graduate of Madras University, and afterwards
published several short stories in Indian newspapers. After India declared its
independence, Markandaya moved to Britain, though she still labeled herself an
Indian expatriate long afterwards. Markandaya, whose works were first published
11

in the 1950s, passed away Sunday May 18, 2004 at her home in the outskirts of
London.
Markandayas novels are a presentation of the basic fact of awakening
feminine consciousness. In Some Inner Fury (1955), the novelist refers to the silent
barriers against women:
There is a tradition, perhaps not only in India that women should not be
worried, that the best way to ensure this is to keep them as far as possible in
ignorance.... Certain domains belong to men alone, and Indian women learn early
not to encroach (1955 45).
Through Premala in Some Inner Fury Markandaya shows the insecurity,
endurance and isolation that fall upon Indian women because of unmatched
marriages. Premala tried so hard to please him... the award of conciliatory
concentration would have driven a man patient that kit to irritation (97).
Similarly, Irrawaddy is thrown out of her husbands house, having being accused
of barrenness and her husband marries another woman. She returns to her fathers
home. To provide food and clothes to her newborn brother she takes to prostitution
whereas Premala dies tacitly acknowledging thus the imperfect articulation of her
marriage (1955 151). The Indian women felt and questioned injustice but dared
not strike out to create a niche for themselves to make their voices heard though
their pain
Her investigation and presentation of feminine consciousness are directed
towards an objective account of womens emotions assessing womanhoods
confrontation with male reality. On making a deep perusal of her novels, one sees
her intense awareness of her identity as a woman and her attention to feminine
problems. In Nectar in a Sieve (1982), the narrator heroine Rukmani emerges a
greater and stronger character than her husband. The author displays Rukmanis
life, which is full of hopes and frustrations, pleasures and pains, triumph and
defeat, rise and fall. She stands for the traditional values and life and so she revolts
emphatically against the encroachment of the western industrial values on rural
life. Kamala Markandaya highlights the stoic patience of its heroine in the face of
suffering.
Nectar in a Sieve, as an interpretation of life in Indian feminist context. The
writing is considered as women writing, speaking both for and as a woman. The
heroine, Rukmini, represents a womans struggle to find happiness in a changing
India, and is true to her tradition and culture. Rukminis tale could be any village
womans tale in India of the fifties. She is the binding force in the family. A
woman of great fortitude and deep understanding, it is she, who bears through all
the suffering to emerge triumphant. Markandaya upholds the virtues of
12

motherhood and love. She is no hard-core feminist but a writer who is realistic and
humanistic.
Nearly all Markandayas characters as Rukmani in Nector in a Sieve (1982)
Mirabai, Premala in Some Inner Fury (1955) and Mohini in The Golden
Honeycomb (1977) exhibit a positive and optimistic outlook towards life. Her
female characters dream of a better and meaningful life. By exercising their own
self, they get fulfillment and recognition in life. In this way, they are able to
establish their identity. In her fiction, Kamala Marakandaya has shown a womans
gradual journey from self- effacement to self- realization, from self- denial to selfassertion and from self- sacrifice to self- fulfillment.
Mira in Some Inner Fury was brought up both in the Eastern and the
Western ways of living but she is finally caught between these two ways of life.
Without the consent of her mother, she marries an Englishman Richard. Inspite of
her love for Richard she gets involved in the political storm of 1947 and soon
realizes that the forces that pulled us apart were too strong (192). Leaving
Richard, she joins freedom fighters. Roshan Merchant in the same novel
symbolizes modern, progressive Indian woman. She in her quest for freedom and
love for her country is shown as a model to other women around her: She lent you
her vision and you saw things as they were (64). Roshan illustrates Markandayas
commitments to issues larger than private consciousness and womens grievances.
She is the best example of an enlightened woman: through Roshan she shows that
it is possible to reconcile the need for personal freedom with the larger concept of
national and eventually global freedom (Krishnaswamy 183).
Other enlightened women in her novels like Mohini, Usha and Anasuya are
all carbon copies of Roshan. But it is sad to note that Markandayas portrait of
emancipated modern Indian women are images of those who are either divorcees
or concubines or willful waywards who cannot fit in the traditional Indian society
and end up as virgins in a whorehouse (1973 180) or as unsatisfied women with
no hearth or home.
Lady Caroline Bell in Possession is an attenuated from of the powerful
craving to have, to hold. Carolines passion to possess Valmiki is so great that she
unscrupulously removes every obstacle that comes in her way.
The Coffer Dams (1969) The author has, in earlier novels, concerned herself
with India's poor, and in this novel about a dam building in southern India, she
highlights the conflict of Western technological mores with various strata of old
and new India. Builder Clinton, arriving in India with his young wife Helen, is
swept up in the exhilaration of completing his creation, the dam, but although the
cooperating Indian engineers are equally eager for the dam's completion, they are
13

leery of the punishing schedule. Helen, aware of the very different heartbeat of the
tribal society in the nearby jungle, is increasingly drawn to those intimately human
realities which are bypassed by the rush of machines and planners. Soon the dam
begins to claim its major sacrifices, both British and Indian, including Helen's
lover, the young Indian engineer, Bashiam, crippled for life. As the monsoon
comes, and the doubt that the dam will hold grips the British, loneliness--even
madness--destroys the hitherto barely surviving common front. Miraculously the
monsoon ends, the dam holds and the villagers, ""their concerns being different,""
see the coffers ""bleached and clean."" But the Westerners, drained and isolated,
are aware of the loss. Although the author sluices through characterization mainly
to pan out a message, her dramatic punctuality in sustaining suspense and her
empathy with a rugged landscape and rugged people just holds back a too-easy
commercialism.
Two Virgins (1973) Markandaya portrays the encroachment by the modern
western values on the traditional beliefs and old established relationships within
the family and the village. Markandaya has presented the story of two virgins or
girls Lalitha and Saroja in this novel. The need for individual freedom is the central
concern of this novel.
The Nowhere Man (1975) Markandaya delineates the problem of identify of
lderly Indian immigrants. The protagonists, Vasantha and her husband Srinivas
find it not only difficult but impossible to create their own identity in England, the
land of their adoption. The theme of racial rancor and hatred figures more
prominently in The No Where Man than in any other novel of Markanadaya.
The Golden Honeycomb (1977) A sugar of princely life in India, portrays
the life of a Maharajah who is merely a puppet in the hands of the British. The
novel is written in a political backgrounds and fully charged with the feeling of
patriotism and nationalism
Nectar in A Sieve (1982) is Markandayas first published novel. This novel
is about rural India. The novel became Book of the Month Club Main selection and
best seller in the United States. In 1955, the American library Association named it
a No bale Book. In this novel Kamala Markandaya very clearly depicts the
misfortunes that come in the way of Indian peasants. However, the novelist is
more interested in portraying the spiritual stamina of Rukmani, the protagonist,
who braves every misfortune and remains optimistic throughout. Rukmani, the
heroine, rooted in the land and in tradition, accepting with little rebellion or
bitterness the misfortunes inflicted upon her by nature and society, symbolizes the
lives of generation of tenant farmers of India. In Nectar in a Sieve, Markandaya,
14

tells the ageless story of the landless peasants of India who face oppression,
starvation, break up of family and home and death. They yet retain their love,
compassion, the strength to face life and take delight in the pleasures of daily
existence.
A Handful of Rice (1985) is the natural sequence of Nectar in a Sieve.
Nectar reveals the misfortunes that one normally encounters in a village and a
Handful does the same in the town. Social injustice again fills Markandaya with
anguish. K.R Srinivasa Iyengar says, If the outer theme of Nectar in a Sieve was
rural economics, the theme of A Handful of Rice is urban economics . In A
Handful of Rice, Ravi, a man leading a Bohemian life chooses a monotonous life
because of his love for a tailors daughter. This novel portrays the predicament of
the protagonist Ravishankar caught up in mental conflict. In the modern world
social injustice generates poverty, hunger and exploitation; perennial values are in
jeopardy; the honest suffer and the crooked prosper; materialism mars spiritualism;
greed gulps down contentment; desire for the nuclear family born out of
selfishness endangers the blessings of the joint family system; the attitudinal gap
between the young and the old widens; the sociological gap between the rich and
the poor becomes bigger and bigger; the dividing line between the good and the
bad fades; and the mind of man is perplexed by all these. For this malady of
mankind, the proper remedy is an attitude of love and contentment backed by a
sense of social justice
In her novels Kamala Markandayas has shown that women are not lesser
human beings, rather they are sometimes more dignified than men because of their
greater human virtues and qualities. Markandayas has made us here the
pronounced voice of women her fiction, as it may lead to the welfare of entire
mankind. Thus Kamala Markandayas has immortalized herself in English
Literature. Kamla Markandaya had dealt with several problems concerning various
aspects of India like social, political, national and international the form of the
East-west confrontation. Markandaya presents a true picture of rural and urban
India on a number of her novels. The poor suffer from irony of fate. They work so
hard labour and bright dreams, Nature ruins on account of the excess of rain in
which the fields are flooded and crop is rotten, sometimes, there is want of rains in
which their fields grow nothing. They starve, villages are devoid of medical aid,
people die in want of medical treatment .Money lenders exploit uneducated
villagers of simple nature. Growing industrialization provides employment to some
villagers. But prices rise with the arrival of townsmen. On account of them many
women and girls become corrupt. Markandaya does not ignore big cities. In her
novels she presents a picture of urban India too .When villagers go to big cities in
search of livelihood they suffer bitterly.
15

Nayantara Sahgal
Feminism can be seen as collective and individual endeavor on the part of
women at different times and in different countries to strive for equality of rights
and opportunities in all fields of life. Women writers have concerned themselves
with the theme of writing of oppression, issues of power in a patriarchal set up and
the unjust marginalization of woman. The representation of women in their novels,
a development towards a feminist protest; literature can be set, and argue that
current feminist literary theory must draw from the specific cultural and historical
background of women's texts if it is to be of relevance to women from different
16

parts of the world. Nayantara Sahgal a prominent feminist novelist occupies a


prestigious position in India English fiction. Her writings reflect a variety of
shades, colours and visions. The protested against the cruelty perpetrated on the
women by portraying their responses and reactions. Their spirit of revolt against
society and mismatched marriages are was obvious in her writings. The
protagonists of the novels are women of a typical traditional society. Through her
novels Sahgal depicts the status of woman in the society and the man-woman
relationship in fictional form. It is only after the emergence of women writers that
we have been able to have a deep insight into the psyche of the Indian female.
All feminisms may start with the assertion that feminisms concern
themselves with womens inferior position in society and with discrimination
encountered by women because of their sex. Although the women writers have
seen female identity as a process and have emphasized its flexibility, they could
not avoid being subjected to the unjustified claims on their intellectual powers.
Thus, they have always been alienated from the mainstream of literature and
society.
Even after the word Feminism was coined, many of those who campaigned
for womens rights did still not adopt it as a term of identification. Some kinds of
Feminism classification are as made according to the historical appearance of
strong feminist movements at different moments as a series of waves. In the early
twentieth- century gaining equal rights for women particularly the right of
suffrage.
A brief summary of this typology is as follows: Liberal feminism includes
all those who campaign for equal rights for women within the framework of the
liberal state. Arguing that the theoretical basis on which this state is built is sound
but that the rights and privileges it confers must be extended to women to give
them equal citizenship with men. Marxist and Socialist feminists link gender
inequality and womens oppression to the capitalist system of production and the
division of labour consistent with this system; and Radical feminists see mens
domination of women as the result of the system of patriarchy, which is
independent of all other social structures that is, it is not a product of capitalism.
Feminism is thus a term that emerged long after women started questioning
their inferior status and demanding womens rights to equal treatment in their
social position. In Toward a Feminist Poetics Elaine Showalter traces the history
of womens literature, suggested that it could be divided into three waves. Each
described as dealing with different aspects of feminist issues. The first wave refers
to the movement of the 19th century through early 20th century, which dealt mainly
with suffrage, working conditions and educational rights for women and girls. The
17

second wave dealt with the inequality of laws, as well as cultural inequalities and
the role of women in society. The third wave of feminism is seen as both a
continuation of the second wave and a response to the perceived failure. The third
wave of feminism can be described as building on the foundations laid by the two
previous periods, even though there were still some important legal landmarks.
More women are getting an education, entering the work force, becoming
successful and living independent lives. The third wave of feminism is about
choice, it is about individuality.
The concept of gender seems to have opened up new avenues of thought and
analyses for the feminists, bringing with it, and the hope of huge theoretical
advance in the analysis of womens oppression. Contemporary Indian women
writers speak about a new identity, active participation in everyday experiences,
and a conscious exertion of personal influence in every sphere of life. A womans
experience of life as a member of a gender-based society formulates her psyche.
Moreover, she is bound by certain other factors such as her individual
circumstances, societys expectation related to age, creed, class, race etc. Thus
each womans experience of lifes is different and therefore, unique.
Women novelists in English clearly show that women have made a
permanent mark in the field of English Fiction. In most of their writings, they have
tried their best to free the female mentality from the age long control of male
domination. In short, in their novels, the protagonists are mostly women characters
desolated and isolated by an entirely sapless, hypocritical and insensitive male
domination. Today whatever political, social, cultural and individual awareness we
see in women, are the result of these fiction writers who heralded a new
consciousness in the realm of traditional thinking.
Women take pride in suffering and live with the idea of subjugation
entrusted to them for years in inculcation about the necessity to accept the rules
assigned to them by patriarchy that runs all through their blood. As Uma Alladi
observes:
Subtle indoctrination atrophies a womans desire to change her position as
an object and to exercise her free will; she compromises her stand. For is
taught the importance and necessity of a stable marriage and family- family
as security-as a source of emotional strength (1989 4).
Nayantara Sahgal (1927 -) who depicts post- colonial attitudes and vouches
for a new feminine morality and a new humanism. As a woman novelist, she
recognizes that her primary obligation is that of advocating the emancipation of
women, Sahgal vividly describes how both the individuals and the society exploit
woman even during the modern times. Together with it, she traces out a slow and
18

gradual deviation from the stereotype of the virtuous woman to redefine virtue. She
condemns self-immolation and suffering and points out that the virtue of the
modern woman is courage which is a willingness to risk the unknown and to face
the consequences (Sahgal 84).
From the feminist perspective, Sahgal exposes the emptiness of man-woman
relationships based on age-old pattern of gender inequality and injustice. She
portrays self willed and individualistic women who are not only deeply aware of
their emotional needs but also
fervently strive for self fulfillment. These women show the courage of rejecting
orthodox traditional social set up in favour of liberal and unconventional ways of
life. In this paper to study Feminist Approach in Nayantara Sahgal these novels
The Day in Shadow (1975), Rich Like Us (1985) and Mistaken Identity (1992) have
been discussed.
The novel The Day in Shadow (1975) is a fine example of the female literary
tradition in the Indian cultural. Though Indians have got freedom yet it is only on
the surface level as in their attitudes to love, morality, sex, marriage, education and
religion, they are still the slaves of the West. The novel is richly inspired by the
political movement of the society, yet the problem of divorce and disintegration of
the marriage is dealt with typical Indian society.
The Day in Shadow present personal concerns take precedence over politics.
The heroine, Simrit Raman, a writer, is a divorce, and the novel shows the
prejudice she faces in male-dominated Indian society. She grows close to Raj, an
idealistic Member of Parliament, who shares her values, unlike her husband, who
believes in money-making above all. Sahgal gives an authentic picture of highlevel politicians and bureaucrats, wrapped up in their cocktail parties, worried
more about themselves than about the problems which face the country. The
mutual attraction between Simrit and Raj is not primarily sexual. As in her other
novels, Sahgal suggests that marriage is not just a sexual relationship, it means
companionship on equal terms. She pleads for a basic honesty in human
relationships, whether they are between man and woman or the ruler and the ruled.
Simrit is modern and educated woman who yearns for a free communication
of ideas with her husband but feels isolated and ignored, used only for physical
comfort whenever needed by Som. She wants love, warmth, affection, freedom and
understanding but Som never bothers about her feelings. When Som compels her
with his sexual urgency, she feels herself separate, excluded and rebellious. She
feels that sex is a part of life and not a separate entity. Sex is no more just sex:
And once past its immediacy, sex had its visions too of tenderness, of
humour, of more than physical act. Sex could be an argument or a problem
19

shared. The same spring fed all its facets the days work in office, children
at home, bed at night, Simrit felt on the verge of a fatal realization. She was
no longer able to follow the goals Som had set for himself, and the inability
seemed to be spreading through her veins, affecting the very womb of her
desire, drying up the fount within her (1982 66).
Simrit ultimately decides to put an end to her unhappy marriage. She is fed
up with this life and takes divorce from her husband. She finds even after divorce
life is not easy. She commemts:
It was painful how the connection continued, like a detached heartbeat. The
tissue of a marriage could be dissolved by human acts, but its anatomy went
on and on. And skeletons could endure for a million years. Just living
together, daily routine produced that uncanny durability. It made the
question of whether one had loved or not, been loved or not, been the
transgressor or transgressed against, trivial by comparison
(64).
Through Simrits divorce, Sahgal thus makes a strong plea for a change of
the Indian society. It has the theme of survival of a sensitive individual in a
ruthlessly materialistic society. Her friendship with Raj provides her the anchor
and helps her to come out of the shock and stupor and establish a life of her own.
As A. V. Krishna Rao comments while discussing Sahgals The Day in Shadow,
Mrs. Sahgals fictional probe into the ancerous proliferation of social hypocrisy
and political pretence in modern India is incisive like that of a surgeons knife but
is tempered with compassion and love. Its analysis and interpretation of the human
predicament is informed of newer and truer insights into the human psyche(1976
69).
In her novel Rich Like Us (1985) Sahgal, presents the problems that the
contemporary women face in society towards self realization. She not only deals
with the questions of marriage, sexuality and womans equality with man but also
raises the question of love, hatred, jealousy and certain other human emotions and
values. In this novel, she reflects the tension between the predicament of the
contemporary Indian woman and the traditional Hindu culture. She studies the
social working force on the psychology of the Indian woman. As observed by
Jasbir Jain, Sahgal concentrates primarily on single and married women. It is in
these roles that they wish to experience freedom and to become aware of
themselves as individuals to be accepted as equals.
Rich Like Us, which won the Sinclair prize for fiction, is probably her best
novel. Sahgal's searching look at India during the Emergency reveals that
democracy and spirituality are only skin-deep. The murder of the narrator Sonali's
20

great-grandmother in the name of suttee, the mutilation of the sharecropper


because he asks for his due, the rape of the village women by the police because
their menfolk dare to resist the landlord, and the murder of Rose, the large-hearted
Englishwoman in New Delhi just because her frank talk is an embarrassment to her
stepson Dev, are all described in an entirely credible manner. The narrative
technique is interesting; the narrator is Sonali, but alternate chapters deal in the
third person with her father Keshav's friend Ram, a businessman who loves Rose,
so we get a dual perspective on events. The novel ends on a note of hope; in the
midst of sycophancy, there are persons like Kishori Lal, a petty shopkeeper, who
have the courage to protest against tyranny.
Sonali presents the modern Indian woman a combination of Indian traditions
with the positive aspects of modernity. It is her unique manner of asserting her
individuality. Her decision to resign from the Civil Service is precisely her refusal
to compromise with dictatorship. Sonali says: When the constitution becomes null
and void by the act of a dictator, and the armour of a modern state confronts you,
Satyagraha is the only way to keep your self-respect (1985 175). She is
marginalized, treated unfairly by the system. Her survival in the end is a sign of
hope for modern India.
Rose, represents that portion of Britain which loved India and was willing to
suffer for it. Rose had broken an almost settled engagement with Freddie in order
to marry Ram. She had married for love, though she had enough knowledge of
Rams first marriage and the existence of a son. She had abandoned all her
home, her country, her parents only for her love. There was something romantic
about her attitude to Ram:
She had entered an emotional labyrinth and she was drawn magnetically
on, with Ram doing no more than holding her hand for the entire two weeks before
he asked her, a victim of casual unthinking sorcery, to marry him. And it was a
sign of the distance she had travelled (1985 43-44)
Ram trapped between the past and the present, tradition and modernity, India
and the west. He is aligned both to traditional India Mona and the Western
modernity Rose. Ram also represents patriarchal values.
The women in this novel are certainly more aware of the injustice done to
them by men, but habit makes them a willing prisoner in this world of exploitation
and injustice. Though Sonali and Rose are typical Sahgal women, however they
are independent, assertive, self-respecting and compassionate. As Sahgal quotes,
My women are strivers and aspirers toward freedom, toward goodness, toward a
compassionate world.(Jain 145)
21

Novels bring out Nayantara Sahgal as a writer with feminist concerns


seeking independent existence of women. She sees women as victims of
conventional Indian society engaged in their quest for identity. In her last novel
Mistaken Identity her concept of emancipation reaches its pinnacle where her
female character is an out-and-out rebel.
In Mistaken Identity (1992) Bhushan Singh, the narrator and novelist
Sahgals mouthpiece, encounters various women in his life and thus, undergoes
varied experiences and reaches maturity at the end of the novel. Ranee, Razia and
Sylla are the one who emerge out sensible modern women because of their
interpersonal relationships. Once they meet the right partners of their respective
lives, they get a ray of life and hope out of their listless and drab life. The novel
promotes man womans love and understanding with due respect to each others
individuality and life.
Ranee is a silent observer and her life is a punishment, given so garishly and
graphically. Destiny, however, has secured some secret happiness and
emancipation for Bhushans mother, the main character of the novel. She chooses
to elope with the right man. Yusuf in whose company, she spends the rest of her
life. With Yusufs arrival, there comes a sea change in her life. From a mere
helpless spectator, she now articulates her likes and choice. Ranee who has
endured silent indifference of her husband, now needs neither the approval of a
decadent society, nor the consent of an apathetic husband for taking her decision.
She ultimately creates a stir in the orthodox society of early 20th century and elopes
with her communist lover. As Bhushan puts it:
Early one morning she left the family mansion she walked out to star in
the most sensational scandal of the generation. Society has not forgiven this
liaison between an illiterate Ranee and her communist lover, and the
shameless public exhibition they make of it (1992 238).
Bhushans Razia, is imaged as symbolic of a past unity of India, as
embodying a revolutionary transgression of religious stricture in the present, and as
a signal of hope for a secular India. Razia, the Muslim girl Bhushan is obsessed
with, is sixteen years old. Trapped in her religious and cultural confines, she is
attracted by the fleeting moments of freedom Bhushan offers her. Bhushan
develops sexual relationship with Razia, which satisfies him to the core of his soul.
Bhushan recalls that in Razias face he read his dream of revolution. Razias face is
an image of his creation, a representation of his desire. When he had been sent
away to United States to tide over the experience, he had tried to grope towards
some definition of womanhood in Razia.

22

Sylla who was educated in England and Switzerland and she was brought up
by her grandmother who had herself been educated in France. This lady had single
handedly raised Sylla to be a free-spirited and independent woman. As a result of
her upbringing, Sylla is a straightforward woman. Even Syllas appearance, her
very English ways, set her apart from the common Indian woman. Sylla tries to
rescue Bhushan. Bhushan plans marry her and live a carefree modern life. On the
other hand, Sylla plans to marry Nauzer, the Parsee young rising star, the advocate,
perhaps because Nauzer could give her what her grandmother had hoped for her.
Bhushan met the young daughter of Yusuf, and married her. The marriages of
Bhushans mother to the Communist Muslim Comrade Yusuf and of Bhushan to
Yusufs daughter are too tidy, in fact a foreclosure on the rich potential the work
explores. He finally finds fulfilment in his marriage to comrade Yusufs daughter.
As a woman novelist, Sahgal recognises that her primary obligation is that of
advocating the emancipation of women. Sahgal in her novels vividly describes
how woman is exploited even during the modern times by both the individuals and
the society.
The novelist puts forth the modern view of living where women should be
given full freedom to express their individuality and escape from suffering and
injustice. In the novels, Nayatara Sahgal, is found a tone of feminism different in
kind seeking independent existence of women. Mortified by the plight of the
women as a victim of conventional Indian society, Sahgal has pointed out in her
novels the ills of the contemporary society, which held the women as the butt of all
humiliation. The novels of Sahgal hence are the replicas of the contemporary
society.

Anita Desai
Anita Desai, one of India's foremost writers. Indian novelist, short-story
writer and children's author, Desai is indeed a name to reckon with in the field of
literature. Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award and Guardian Children's Fiction
Prize, Desai has authored as many as sixteen works of fiction, some of the best
ones being Fasting, Feasting, The Village by the Sea, In Custody, and Clear Light
of Day. Her distinct style of writing, her original characters and her realistic subject
23

line is what made her writings so endearing. Over the years, Desai won many
awards and recognition for her work and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize
twice. Apart from writing, she has been actively involved in teaching as well. She
continues to be an inspiration for many young aspiring writers today.
Women writers have made considerable contribution to the development of
English fiction. In the case of Indian English fiction, however, it is after the Second
World War that women writers have enriched the genre, making it compatible in
the context of the world literature. Indian women novelists in English, notably
Kamala Markandaya, Nayantara Sehgal, Anita Desai have offered convincing
creations of a world in which characters live and indicate that the novels written by
women novelists have reached maturity. They forge a style of their own, and reveal
a power of artistic selection by which their novels achieve a armonious effect.
These writers particularly share the experience of women in general and transmute
these experiences into the form of fiction. The awareness of individuality, the
sense of compatibility and incompatibility with their tradition-bound surrounding,
the resentment of male-dominated ideas of morality and behaviour, problems at
home and at places of work or in the society all come up in the form of a
discussion for these women writers. As, Prof. Malashri Lal rightly said: Indian
women writers have consistently refused to be named in the category of feminist
writers (16).
These writers question the universal presumption of the western discourses
on the basis that the West is unaware of the Indian traditions and problems of joint
family, dowry, illiteracy, purdah, sati and childlessness. They aspire to pin point
these problems and convey them to critics so that ordinary Indian women can carry
out a movement and try to find out a solution. In the realm of contemporary Indian
English fiction, A.N. Dwivedi has rightly argued:
Anita Desai is the first among Indian English novelists to have forcefully
expressed the existential problems of womankind; she is the first to have laid
bare the inner recesses of human psyche; she is the first to introduce the
deep psychological probing of her characters (45).
Desai was born on June 14, 1935 in Mussoorie to a German mother, Toni
Nime, and a Bengali father, D.V. Mazumdar. She grew up speaking German at
home and Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and English at school and in the city streets. She
has said that she grew up surrounded by Western literature and music, not realizing
until she was older that this was an anomaly in her world where she also learned
the Eastern culture and customs. She married a businessman at twenty-one and
raised several children before becoming known for her writing. Her first book, Cry,
the Peacock was published in England in 1963.In the following years, she went on
24

to publish a slew of books including Bye-bye Blackbird, Where Shall We Go This


Summer?, Fire on the Mountain, Games at Twilight, Clear Light of Day, In
Custody, and The Village by Sea. Apart from these, Anita has written scores of
short stories that have won her great accolades. Most of her plot line are either a
representation or influenced by her personal experience of life. She never
patronized a single theme or message, but instead believed in citing the truth as it
is. In most of her works, she stressed on the lives of the Indian middle-class
women as most of her female characters highlighted on their strained relationships.
In her books, Anita has managed to deal with topics ranging from anti-Semitism to
western quintessential ideologies of India and the death of Indian traditions and
customs. She once wrote: "I see India through my mother's eyes, as an outsider, but
my feelings for India are my father's, of someone born here" (Griffiths)
She received her early education from Queen Mary's Higher Secondary
School in Delhi after which she went on to earn a bachelors degree in English
Literature from Miranda House, University of Delhi in the year 1957. In 1958, she
taught at Mount Holyoke College in United States, and as a professor of
humanities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Anita is also a fellow
member of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and
Letters, and the Girton College and the Cambridge University. She continues to
make her presence felt among American tabloid by publishing her write up for The
New York Review of Books every fortnight.
But Desai only writes in English. This, she has repeatedly said, was a natural
and unconscious choice for her: I can state definitely that I did not choose English
in a deliberate and conscious act and I'd say perhaps it was the language that chose
me and I started writing stories in English at the age of seven, and have been doing
so for thirty years now without stopping to think why (Desai).
She is considered the writer who introduced the psychological novel in the
tradition of Virginia Woolf to India. Included in this, is her pioneer status of
writing of feminist issues. While many people today would not classify her work
as feminist, she believes this is due to changing times: The feminist movement in
India is very new and a younger generation of readers in India tends to be rather
impatient of my books and to think of them as books about completely helpless
women, hopeless women. They find it somewhat unreal that the women don't fight
back, but they don't seem to realize how very new this movement is (Jussawalla).
Also, she says, her writing is realistic: Women think I am doing a
disservice to the feminist movement by writing about women who have no control
over their lives. But I was trying, as every writer tries to do, even in fiction, to get
at the truth, write the truth. It would have been really fanciful if I had made (for
25

example, in Clear Light of Day) Bim and Tara modern-day feminists (in
Griffiths).
Desai is one of those privileged writers whose work was chosen by Ismail
Merchant, a well-established writer and director for screen adaptation. Her novel In
Custody was adapted by the production house and won the President of India Gold
Medal for Best Picture. Over the years, Desai has been honored for her work by
many national and internationally prestigious rewards. The Winifred Holtby
Memorial Prize, Sahitya Akademi Award, Shortlisted, Booker Prize for Clear
Light of Day, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlisted, Booker Prize, Neil
Gunn Prize, Shortlisted, Booker Prize for Fasting, Feasting, Alberto Moravia Prize
2000, Benson Medal of Royal Society of Literature in 2003 are some of the most
well known awards that she has received.
Cry the Peacock (1963), the novel explores the psychic of realities of
characters while highlighting the female predicament of maintaining self-identity
as an individual woman. Maya is the daughter of a rich advocate in Lucknow.
Being alone in the family, her mother being dead and brother having gone to
America to carve his own independent destiny, she gets the most of her fathers
affection and attention and in her moments of affliction exclaims to herself: No
one, no one else, loves me as my father does (1963 33). The excessive love Maya
gets from her father makes her have a lop-sided view of life. She lives in a world
of fantasy, lost in beautiful memories of hers, which makes it difficult for her to
adjust with the present reality.
Voices in the City (1965), encompasses the authors experiences in the city
of Calcutta, represented in the novel as a locus of wealth and poverty, light and
darkness. The central characters, again displaced figures, find their own
complexities reflected in the chaotic waters of urban Calcutta. Then, moving away
from the locale of the Indian city to the English world, the author found new
inspiration in the conflicts generated by racial tensions between the Indian
immigrants and the postcolonial white population of England.
In Bye Bye, Blackbird (1971), Desai captures the immigrants dilemma on
strange, new soil in the image of the blackbird. Nostalgia and alienation, rejection
and acceptance of the colonizers identity, are dualities deftly braided together in
this work of East-West tensions and oppositions.
The novel is about migrant Indians in the England of 1960s. Adit lives in
London with his English wife, Sarah. Dev is a newly arrived immigrant from India.
Adit has well adjusted himself in the country of his adoption and has allayed his
sense of loneliness by being nonchalant to its various causes. Dev, on the other
hand, is critical of Adits attitude. He gets disturbed and angry when someone
26

whispers the word wog behind his back. Obviously Dev has more reasons to be
lonely and thus when he ventures into the city he feels, like a Kafka stranger
wandering through the dark labyrinth of a prison (169). Devs loneliness
eventually stops haunting him and he decides to stay in England. Adit, in the
interim, suffers from a crisis of identity. He starts longing for the land and the
people he has left behind. He feels depressed of Mrs. Roscommon-James sniffs
and barks and Devs angry sarcasm (176) as well as from the fact that Sarah "had
shut him out, with a bang and a snap, from her childhood of one-eared pandas and
large jigsaw puzzles(176). He finally decides to return to India with Sarah.
Where shall we go this summer? (1975) the award-winning novel concern
with the situation of the middle-class Indian wife in a contemporary urban setting.
It depicts an intense identity crisis of the protagonist, Sita, a sensitive woman at her
early forties who finds herself alienated from her husband and children. Sita is
hypersensitive and she is incapable of looking at things in the normal way. She
also concentrates on the predicament of modern woman in the society and her
ultimate destruction at the altar of marriage.
Fire on the Mountain (1977) begins with an intrusion. Nanda Kaul is living
her last years peacefully in the small town of Kasauli. Her great-granddaughter
Raka is then dispatched to live with her. They think they are different from each
other, till their similarities come to the surface along with the hurt, pain, kindness,
only ending in tragedy.
Clear Light of Day (1980) deals with politics and of womens situation in
India. Tara, in her 40s, returns from Washington with her diplomat husband to visit
her family in Old Delhi. In the Das family house live older sister, history teacher
Bim, and Baba, a brother who never grew up. In this novel, she represents the
woman who struggle between tradition and modernity in order to establish their
identity and to live an economically independent life without depending on their
male counterparts.
The village by the sea (1982) is about how Hari and Lila struggle for the
survival of their family in the absence of their drunken father and ill mother. In the
novel, the role of people and their importance of existence is given great
significance as it is these people who benefit the village in every way possible. The
village was based on a male dominate way or living. It was the man who was the
head of the family who has the soul right to dominate and control. On the other
hand the women were very submissive towards their husbands and this is proved
through the statement- No one dared to tell him, least of all their mother. This
also proves that the women were not able to stand up against the men and had no
27

means of power or control over anything. They were basically portrayed delicate
and afraid of risking an argument with the men. The women didn't work for the
household income as it was the work of the men to do so, so the women kept
themselves busy in the house work or other sorts of pass time such as- sit outside
on a string bed outside her house, competently chopping up a heap of betel nuts
Buying fish and picking barnacles, and mollusks is said to be the, occupation of
the women. The main themes of this novel are change and survival.
In Custody (1984) the key themes of identity and language are explored and
developed. This is vital considering the context in which Desai sets so many of her
novels, which is post-Partition and the massive upheaval that occurred as Pakistan
was created as a separate nation and many Muslims and Hindus had to relocate and
an imaginary border was created in a nation. The focus on language is shown in
Deven, who focuses on Hindi poetry because he has no choice but to teach the
language of the majority where he is based. However, he has a love of Urdu
poetry, and when he tries to interview a famous old Urdu poet, Nur, he is insulted
by his head of department with the following words: Ill get you transferred to
your beloved Urdu department. I wont have Muslim toadies in my department;
youll ruin my boys with your Muslim ideas, your Urdu language. Ill complain to
the Principal, Ill warn the RSS, you are a traitor.
Desais fictions are generally existentialist studies of individuals and hence
background, politicality, historicity, social settings, class, cross-cultural pluralities
are all only incidental. But being incidental does not mean that they are essentially
extraneous. Their study is not only as important as the study of human condition
in Desais fiction but in fact, they are intrinsic to the latter study. Basically, it is the
tension between what is to be included and what to be excluded from the study of
literary text that makes it all the more interesting. This is especially relevant when
the fiction deals with the condition of being in a Diaspora about migrant existence.
The solitude that Desai depicts in her diasporic characters is a result of the inner
psyche of the characters as also their external circumstances. Loneliness is a
manifestation of both inner and outer conditions and hence, its sense can be evoked
even in the middle of society.
Baumgartner's Bombay (1988) The Jew, Hugo Baumgartner in the novel
Baumgartners Bombay had spent his childhood in his native Germany with his
parents. Even as a child a sense of loneliness gnaws at his being and is evoked at
his crucial moments of triumph. On his first day at school when his mother comes
to fetch him with a cone of bonbons for him, he holds up his prize for the others to
see but already the other children were vanishing down the street and no one
saw his triumph. He accuses his mother for being late and complains: You dont
look like everyone elses mother (33). Hugos loneliness as a child, in the midst
28

of society comes because of the lack of identification. Even when he is not


neglected he feels the same loneliness as is evident from the Christmas incident in
the school when all his classmates were sent gifts by their parents to be distributed
to them by their teacher. Hugo longs for the red glass globe that adorns the top of
the Christmas tree. When the teacher makes it up as his gift he instinctively
realizes that his parents have not sent any gift for him and he stubbornly disinclines
from accepting it even though goaded by his classmates to take it. It is perhaps this
sense of loneliness experienced by the Jewish community in Germany that helped
Hitler fuel his Aryan myth and transform loneliness into fear. The Baumgartner
family lives in fear in Nazi Germany and fear is an acute form of loneliness.
Fasting, Feasting (1999) the main concern is the condition of women in
India and is related to women in general. The novel depicts the plights of an
unattractive and isolated girl, Uma, whose life is full of unfulfilled desires and
frustration. She is forced to confine herself within the four walls of the house,
living her life meekly and dancing to the tune of her parents wish.
The most common themes in Anita Desais novels is human relationship
particularly the man-woman relationship. Nowadays this theme is becomes more
important due to rapid industrialization, growing awareness among women of their
rights and individualism and the westernization of attitudes and lives of the people.
D.H. Lawrence points out: The great relationship for humanity will always be the
relationship between man and woman. The relation between man and man, woman
and woman, parent and child will always be subsidiary (Lawrence 130). Desai
takes up significant contemporary issues as the subject matter of her fiction while
remaining rooted in the tradition at the same time. She explores the anguish of
individuals living in modern society. Desai deals with complexity of human
relationships as one of her major theme, which is a universal issue, as it attracts
worldwide readers to her novels. She strives to show this problem without any
interferes. In other hand, she allows to her readers who have their judgment about
her novels characters and their actions.
The fiction of Anita Desai is relevant to all times because she writes about
the predicament of modern man. She digs in to man inner psych and goes beyond
the skin and the flesh. Literature for her is not a means of escaping reality but an
exploration and an inquiry. She prefers the private to the public world and avoid
from the traditional grooves of external reality and physical world. In fact, her real
concern is the exploration of human psyche, inner climate, and she unravels the
mystery of the inner life of her characters. Thus, the most common themes in her
novels is the complexity of human relationships, particularly the man-woman
relationship. She writes mostly about the miserable plight of women suffering
under their insensitive and inconsiderate husbands, fathers and brothers. So, man29

woman relationship brings characters into alienation, withdrawal, loneliness,


isolation and lack of communication that frequently occurs in her novels. Most of
her novels protagonists are alienated from the world, from society, from families,
from parents and even from their own selves because they are not average people
but individuals. When these characters have to face alienation, they become rebels.
Tension, worries, depression, disappointment, anxiety and fear become their lot
and they lose their sense of sanity and mental poise, for example Maya in Cry, the
Peacock, Sita in where shall we go this summer? And Nanda Kaul in Fire on the
Mountain. Some characters like Monisha and Nanda Kaul are unable to reconcile
to alienation and meet with a tragic end.
The uniqueness of Anita Desais fiction lies in her treatment of feminine
sensibility. In India where women have redesigned role, which does not allow any
room for individualism, identity and assertion, Anita Desai talks of women who
question the age old traditions and want to seek individual growth. They try to
reassess the known in a new context and find a meaning in life. Desai suggests that
a balance between the conventional, pre-set role of women and the contemporary
issues has to be struck. Her female protagonists try to discover and rediscover
meaningfulness in life through the known, the established. These characters are not
normal but different from others. They do not find a proper channel of
communication and thus become alienated and start brooding about their lives. All
their wanderings and reflections finally bring them into new vistas of
understanding,
which
they
had
formerly
ignored
or
rejected.
Most of her protagonists are alienated ones. She portrays her characters as
individuals facing single-handed, the ferocious assaults of existence (The times
of India). Thus, Characters in her novels are generally neurotic females, highly
sensitive and engage with their dreams and imagination and alienated from their
environments. They often differ in their opinion from others and embark on a long
voyage of contemplation in order to find the meaning of their existence. That is
why that they suffer of their relationships more than others do.
Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century's Powers identifies a
frequent female character type in Desai's fiction, a newly heroic and thoroughly
modern model of the saintly Indian woman. Those qualities that enabled the
traditional woman to survive in an arranged marriage are those of Desai's
independent woman, who is autonomous, yet bound up with caring for others.
Powers believes that although Desai offers negative examples of women unable to
realize their own needs because of oppression by traditional customs, she also
presents the difficulties faced by newly liberated women in giving their lives
purpose. The feminist message, that women are senselessly harmed by denial of
opportunities for selfrealization, comes through loud and clear; but so does the
30

question of what an independent woman's identity might be. In an essay titled


Indian Women Writers, Desai stated that criticism is an acquired faculty, and
that Indian women have always been discouraged from harboring what is
potentially so dangerous. Desai's own work uses a sharp eye to address the
changes that have complicated Indian society since independence in 1947, and the
trouble outsiders face when trying to grasp the intricacies of Indian culture.
Powers feels that, read chronologically; Desai's novels demonstrate her constant
experimentation and progressive maturation as a writer, treating issues like the
emotional poverty of the liberated woman, and the demise of a rich cultural
tradition.
Desai has always invented both characters and situations, saying that all she
shares with her characters is often the landscape. If one is a writer, then one writes
in order to create some kind of order out of the chaos of all the impressions, all the
experiences one has, she said. For her, its a way of creating some control, or
some sort of order.
Anita Desais writing is often about art and language that exists on the
margins. In a new collection of three novellas, the award-winning author explores
the pain of being alone and the desire to disappear after failure. Her new book is
titled The Artist of Disappearance (2011) a collection of three superb novellas.
Each of these three stories is firmly rooted in the dynamic world of Indian culture,
torn between centuries of tradition and new forces of capitalism.
The first piece, The Museum of Final Journeys, is narrated by a bitter
young administrator a frustrated writer who imagines that his civil service career is
doomed; he spends his days listening to the tedious disputes of local citizens.
While others dreamt dreams and lived lives of imagination and adventure, he
whines, my role was only to take care of the mess left by them. The second
Translator Translated, has roots in Orissa, in Eastern India. Prema Joshi is a
woman of humble origins who's become university educated; alone among the
English faculty at her third-tier women's college, she values the language of her
childhood, Oriya, the most widely spoken language of Orissa. Eventually, she
champions the work of a little-known fiction writer in that language. Why, what
had made her pursue such an unpromising course of study? her colleagues wonder.
What good was this provincial author in a provincial language to her or to anyone
here? The third novella, Artist of Disappearance which gives the book its title, is
just as ambitious in its goals and sweep. Its the story of a young man, Ravi,
adopted by a well-off family. His adoptive parents are cruel, however, and he
eventually eschews the professional life they plan for him. Desais characters think
loftily, but lack conviction and will. They live life on the fringes, aspiring to be
31

better and stronger but almost always failing. In each novella Desai seems to
highlight the frail human condition.

Arun Joshi (1939 - 1993)


Arun Joshi, an Indian writer was born in1939 in India. He attended schools
in India and the United States. Joshi is a novelist who, more strongly than most,
has brought to his work that detachment from the everyday, while still
acknowledging its existence, which is perhaps India's particular gift to the
literature of the world. The rising up into the transcendental is a trait that has
32

increasingly marked out his novels from his first, The Foreigner, where the young
hero, after experiencing life and love in America, is, back in Delhi, at last
persuaded by a humble office worker that sometimes detachment lies in actually
getting involved on up to The City and the River, which takes place wholly in an
imaginary land.
The Foreigner (1968) the story is told in a series of flashbacks with a clever
ordering of past events to maximise suspense. Though the narrative includes Babu,
an Indian student in America, June, a simple and passionate American girl, Mr.
Khemka, a Delhi industrialist, the novel is in the main the story of Sindi Oberoi - a
rootless young man. The story is narrated from Sindis point of view. The division
of the novel orders the events, as the first part lights up the beginning of
relationships, the second growth and decay, and the last, defeat and destruction.
As a matter of fact, the novel depicts the plight of a young man who is
totally lost in a world of meaningless and tries to cast an apprehensive and
meaningful light on his past and his endeavour to try to find a measuring to his life
in the present. The protagonist is caught between the past and future and unable to
understanding how to bring a balance between the two to secure a measuring in his
life.Sindhi Oberoi a Kenyan born Indian of mixed parentage feels that he is
rootless in his ancestry, does not have any bearings of stability and feels that he is
completely lost almost like a foreign and tries not to achieve and realize that novel
of belonging to and gets involved with anybody and everything that comes across
his way and life as a foreigner as he does not want attachment and involvement
without any wanting or desire.
Throughout the novel there are situations of Sindhi Oberoi trying to detach
and alienate himself from the prevailing circumstances. Finally by Muthus
comment Sometimes detachment lies in actually getting involved Stimulates
Sindhi to accept that the real meaning of detachment is Consistently getting
involved with the word. The foreigner is indeed a serious novel and progress
though a serious reflections on love, marriage, suicide, freedom, detachment,
alienation, dissatisfaction which sets the reader to contemplate on those issues.
Sindhi oberoi is the Central character as well as the narrator in The
Foreigner. He being the son of a mixed parentage i.e. his mother a British national
33

and his father a Kenyan Indian, Sindhi knows that he doesnt belong anywhere. His
entire view of life and responses are colored by his childhood deprivation of love
from his parents. Therefore he entertained a deep sense of insecurity, unreality and
impatience about things. H is not only a foreigner to the new cultures between
which he shuttled, but also to his soul
The Strange Case of Billy (1971) Biswas is the story of a young, rich,
American-educated Indian who ends up in the wilderness of central India living as
a semi-naked "tribal" seeking a meaning to things above and beyond all that
everyday civilization can provide. A key to Joshi's whole intent can be found in the
words he puts into the mouth of his narrator; as he grows old he realizes that the
most futile cry of man is his impossible wish to be understood.
The novel opens with a quick glimpse into the narrators present and then
moves onto the past, specifically his encounters with Billy Biswas. How he met
him, what happened after, the place where he lived while he pursued his Ph.D. (in
Harlem) and the immediate consequences of Billys quest for understanding
himself. What makes Billy do what he does when he has everything going for him
education, wealth, status and a loving wife? His inner world is shaken by
growing discontent and dissatisfaction with his life and his restlessness grows
gradually.
Being told from the perspective of his close friend, the book makes for an
engaging and enjoyable suspense thriller of answering the many mysteries that
surround Billy Biswas. The narrator is a close friend of Billy and the novel allows
room for him unveils some of the ambiguity and mystery that seems to surround
Biswas.
The narrative happens in quick succession with great sophistication and lan.
Joshi has presented us with a complex story line which engages the reader from the
beginning, starting with his peculiar title, which gently coaxes us to find out what
is so strange with the protagonist of the story, Billy Biswas. Through Biswas,
Joshi is able to incorporate a man of western ideas with Indian ideologies and is
able to create a very Indian novel. The novel has a strong story and plot line with
an equally strong and fascinating narrator who pulls you deep into the story and
Billy.
The Apprentice (1974) Ratan Rathor, the protagonist and also narrator of the
story in the novel The Apprentice, who recounts the story of his own life in an
34

episodic and reflective manner. He is initially an idealist like his father whose
martyrdom gave him a strong impression on idealism and moral values but later he
sacrificed his idealism and moral values in the face of the harsh, frustrating
realities of bourgeois (middle class) existence.
It may be argued that The Apprentice is predominantly about money,
power, politics and corruption. The novel basically deals with how the New
Slavery has come into existence after independence with new masters: politicians,
officials (bureaucrats) and the rich. At the outset the narration of the story in the
novel is directly aims at exposing social degradation and political corruption of
post-independent India. It is also be argued that the novel deals with the problem of
character building, since Ratan Rathor the young idealist authored an essay on the
crisis of character to his college magazine which won the first prize for the year.
Ratan Rathor has seen two pictures of India: the colonial India that produced
a nation of clerks, the pillars of British Raj, and the post-independent India, which,
in spite of fervent patriotism, ancient heritage, and Gandhian moral enthusiasm, is
still overwhelmed by the British colonial tradition, which emphasis the spirit of
docility and obedience as values that makes the middle-class so blindly follow its
masters. The unique class of clerks is ironically portrayed by Joshi in his novel
The Apprentice as a class of emaciated men whose ambition does not extend
beyond the constricting goals of clerkship, career-hunting, matrimonial gameplanning and other highly charged ritualistic games involving status and money.
It was in the India of the 1940s and 1950s; Ratan Rathor first finds himself
confronting with two worlds: one, the world of his father that is the world of
idealism, patriotism, social and moral concern and the other is crippled world of
bourgeois filth. No doubt poverty is a fertile soil for breeding crime, but it is seen
in both the rich and the bourgeoisie of the pre-independence and the postindependence periods, who will do anything to gratify their indulgent lust for
money. Joshis astute analysis of crumbling values of the bourgeoisie and its
complete absence of ethical values and concerns in the name of aristocracy reveals
the nature of the moral and psychological conflict among the people like Rathan
Rathor, who has come from bourgeois class of society. Ironically, Ratan Rathors
mother, a tuberculosis patient, is a staunch realist who knows fully about the
practical value of money states categorically that without money life and all its
35

idealism are totally meaningless. Rathors mother warned her husband not to give
up his Law-practice for the sake of the falsetto idealism of Mahatma Gandhi.
Following her husbands sacrificial death, she is more convinced about the value of
money.
The self-destructive confusion and moral ambivalence of Ratan Rathor,
which finally make him succumb to the mounting temptation of accepting tainted
money by sacrificing his patriotism and honour, result from the spineless structure
of bourgeois morality. By accepting the bribe from Himmat Singh, he has risked
the lives of thousands of patriotic soldiers who fought with the enemy with inferior
weapons. Ironically, when it comes to rationalization one of the last resorts of
a criminal like our hero Ratan Rathor is frantically obsessed more by his
honour than by the severity and magnitude of his crime.
Ratan Rathor is guilty of accepting a bribe would characterize as compound
fraud, the sin against community. His bribery and fraud threatened his honour for
which he determined to take revenge from Himmat Singh, and then from the
Secretary who hatched a conspiracy of supplying defective weapons to the army
and also responsible for the committing suicide of his childhood friend Brigadier.
Ratan Rathor did not opt for death like his Brigadier friend for his guilt of
accepting bribe but expiate his guilt in more Gandhian way than Vedantic way.
Thus Ratan Rathors search for spiritual identity includes his concern for
humanity. Ratan Rathor is freed from the fear of a possible judgement of society,
but he remains bound to his own moral conscience in a voluntary attempt to
redeem himself from the sin he had committed. However in the process of
discovery of self there are magical moments when the individual sees congruence
between social morality and individual consciousness.

The Last Labyrinth (1981) comes very close to these symbols when Bhaskar
talks about closed caves of Ajanta where for the first time he consciously linked
himself to his racial and wider past. Bhaskar himself comes very close to the image
of a guilt ridden wanderer. Bhaskar again and again visualizes himself lost in a
dark cave. The dark cave haunts him. He feels "voids of caves and voids of the
36

sky; the terrible vacancies of lokalok". It is a cave of his private and at the same
time collective racial fantasies, recurring dreams and obsessive ideas.
The City and the River (1990) the fifth and the last novel, Joshi exhibits his
narrative skill in the use of the Stream of Consciousness technique, especially in
the delineation of the individuals estranged plight, his psychical encounter with
reality resulting to identity crisis.
Joshis fictional world is most strange. Peeling the multiple layers of
artificiality, his protagonists seek to confront the mystery of life beyond the last
labyrinth. His work represents a unique depiction of the dual between the internal
and the external, the intuitive and the imposed. He catches the bewilderment of the
individual psyche, confronted with the overbearing socio-cultural environment and
the ever-beckoning modern promise of self-gratification/self-fulfilment. In the face
of this dual onslaught his protagonistsRatan, Billy Biswas, Som, Sindi Oberoi
and othersare seen poised tantalizingly at different junctures of the philosophic
spectrum. Applying sociological, psycho-analytic, structural and other approaches
of formal textual analysis, the essays in the present anthology take a fresh look at
Joshis works, revealing areas and stances, hitherto left unexplored, offer critical
insights into the working of the protagonists minds, besides scrutinizing the
rhetorical devices and formal strategies, deployed by the novelist for coalescing the
matter with the manner.
Joshi, along with many right thinking stalwarts regrets the malignant
tendency of Indian youth in blindly mimicking materialism.No one is to get drunk
on ones own logic losing all value and respect for the exorbitant spiritual
dimensions for Joshi believes that, generally, a person who is honestly oriented in
the spiritual path gets well placed in a life of contentment and prosperity. There is
only one duty and that is the duty of happiness and good work.This is the reason
for our being here

Bharati Mukherjee
The condition womens lives as immigrants and minorities or wealthy, poor,
black and white as sex workers, maids and even academics are in, portrays the
dominance of patriarchal practices and the changes taking place in South Asian
women in a new world. The form of liberation and empowerment that is available
37

to young women in an alien land, often leads them to migrate to other countries.
The need for higher education and higher wages, leads them to settle abroad
permanently. The situations and the difficulties they face contribute to diasporic
consciousness- like search for their past, their identity, rootlessness, homelessness;
it creates a sense of nostalgia, and valorization of the native land.
As an Asian diaspora writer, Bharati Mukherjee, is the grand dame of Indian
Diaspora writing. She captures and demonstrates the issues associated with
expatriate experience in the United States. This chapter focuses on Bharati
Mukherjee as a diaspora writer and presents an in-depth analysis of her work from
the perspective of diasporic aesthetics, as most of her novels concentrate on the
themes of nostalgia, identity and adjustment between the culture of origin and the
culture of adoption. Jasmine (1989), Desirable Daughters (2002) and The Tree
Bride (2006) are used to study various concepts of Diaspora. Her other short
stories, essays, articles and journals are also analyzed to study Bharati Mukherjees
view about the concept of Diaspora.
Bharati Mukherjee was born in India in a Bengali Brahmin family on
Calcutta on July 27, 1940. She was second of the three daughters of Suhir Lal
Mukherjee who owned a pharmaceutical drug manufacturing plant and her mother
was Bina Bannerjee Mukherjee. In 1947, her father was given a job in England and
he took his family to live there with him until 1951. This gave Bharati Mukherjee
an opportunity to develop and perfect her English. Mukherjee completed her B.A
with honours from the University of Calcutta in 1959. In 1961, she got a M.A
degree in English and Ancient Indian Civilization from Baroda University. Having
planned to be a writer since childhood, Bharati Mukherjee went to the University
of Iowa in 1961, to attend the prestigious Writers Workshop. She studied there to
earn her Masters of Fine Arts, and then returned to India to marry the groom of
her fathers choice in her class and caste. However, a lunch break on September
19, 1963 changed that plan transferring Bharati Mukherjee into a split world and
with loyalties towards two cultures. She married Clark Blaise, a Canadian writer,
in a lawyers office, after only two weeks of courtship (Alam 7).
She received her M.F.A in the year, 1964. In 1964, their first son, Bart
Blaise was born in Iowa City. In December 1967, their second son Bernard Blaise
named after the Jewish American writer Bernard Malamud was born in Montreal.
In 1969, the University of Iowa awarded Bharati Mukherjee a PhD on The Uses
of Indian Mythology in E. M. Fosters A Passage to India and Hermann Hesses
Siddhartha. In 1968, Bharati Mukherjee immigrated to Canada where after living
from 1966 to 1980, she became a natural Canadian and a naturalized citizen in
1972. The fourteen years in Canada were among the hardest in her life, and she
found herself discriminated against as she calls herself member of the visible
38

minority (Nazareth 184). As she has spoken in many interviews of her difficult
life in Canada, a country that is hostile to its immigrants and one that opposes the
concept of cultural assimilation.
Finally fed up with Canada, Bharati Mukherjee and her family moved to the
United States in 1980, where she became permanent U.S. resident. She also taught
at Queens College, New York for a brief period before finally joining as Professor
of English at University of California, Berkeley. Bharati Mukherjee won many
awards and scholarships and availed grants from Mc Gill University in 1968 and
1970. She was awarded the Prestigious Shastri Indo Canadian Institute Grant
during the year 1976-77. She was a recipient of Guggenhein Foundation Award
in 1978-79 and Canadian Government Award in 1982. She also won the first
prize from Periodical Distribution Association in 1980 for her short story
Isolated Incidents. She was awarded National Book Critics Circle Award for her
collection of short stories, The Middleman and Other Stories in 1989.
Mukherjee suffered racial discrimination in Canada. While her husbands
creative skills were recognized her identification as a creative writer was not given
due importance. Her essay Invisible Woman is an intense reflection of those
years. She writes Many, including myself left Canada are unable to keep our twin
halves together (Mukherjee 37). Viewing herself as a writer with two novels to
her credit, Bharati Mukherjee identified V. S. Naipaul as her model in 1927.
In Days and Nights in Calcutta, she says, In myself I detect a pale and
immature reflection of Naipaul; it is he who has written most movingly about the
pain and absurdity of art and exile, of third world art and exile among the former
colonizers; the tolerant incomprehension of hosts, the absolute impossibility of
ever having a home, a desh (Mukherjee & Blaise 287).
Identification with Naipaul at this stage is evidence that Mukherjee treated
herself as an expatriate writer on the basis of her first two novels. She writes about
her Canadian experience as an immigrant in her Days and Nights in Calcutta
Nights: I am Brown; ... The media made me self-conscious about racism ... But if
I as a citizen, I am painfully visible; I cannot make myself visible at all as a
Canadian writer... (1977 284) She further writes in the introduction to Darkness
(1985) her first collection of stories; In Canada I am the wife of a well-known
Canadian writer who also writes, though people often assume it is in Bengali. This
is the anxiety of the well-educated person in Canada; it is easy to understand about
the average educated immigrants situation on the alien soil (1985 2). In U.S.A.
Bharati Mukherjee feels herself as an immigrant writer and in the Introduction to
Darkness, she writes, for me it is a movement away from aloofness of
expatriation to the exuberance of immigration (1985 2-3). Darkness is an
39

important landmark for Bharati Mukherjee. It is in this book she begins to


exchange the robes of an Indian expatriate writer for the new, but not borrowed
robes of a North American writer who is an immigrant. The specifically Canadian
stories in this collection continue to explore the painful world of the expatriate.
Bharati Mukherjees writing includes two essays written in collaboration
with Clark Blaise Days and Nights in Calcutta (1977), being travel memoirs of
their one-year stay in Calcutta in 1973-74; and The Sorrow and the Terror: The
Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy (1987), with portraits of the 329 victims
who died in the Air India plane crash in Ireland in June 1985, caused by Sikh
terrorists; two collections of short stories Darkness (1985) and The Middleman and
other stories (1988); seven novels The Tigers Daughter (1972), Wife (1975),
Jasmine (1989), The Holder of the World (1993), Leave it to Me (1997), Desirable
Daughters (2002) and The Tree Bride (2006) as well as several journal articles and
interviews.
Mukherjee cherishes the orchestrated American culture. The recurring theme
in her work is the condition of Asian immigrants in North America. She pays
particular attention to the changing faces of South Asian Women in a new world.
While the characters in her works are aware of the brutalities and violence that
surround them and are often victimized by various forms of oppression she
generally draws them as survivors. Bharati Mukherjee wrote about two dozen
stories, dealing with heartrending facets of rootlessness (Mukherjee 24). This
phrase corresponds with Bharati Mukherjees migration, along with her husband,
from Canada to America, owing to intimidating racial discriminations in Canada.
This phase (1975-89) has seen the publication of two volumes, Darkness (1985),
The Middleman, and other stories (1988). The wrenching pain, indolence and the
wistfulness of the previous novels is replaced by the aspirations of the immigrants
in the novels written after her settlement in America. The Middleman and other
stories is an anthology with an extensive insight into the demeanor of an
immigrant, more insightful and more Americanized. The experiences of an
immigrant portrayed are not in isolation but in a relative perception. It incorporates
migrant characters from various corners of the globe, mainly Asian. This collection
can also be read as an exploration of the other side of difference since the author
uses certain motifs, situations and narrative procedures to illustrate the
complexities of difference in the lifes of her characters.
Mukherjee becomes a valuable intermediary linking dissimilar worlds. She
tells her tales from many perspectives, with a keen eye on the concept of self
within a larger society. Her writings have a lighter and celebratory tone, with
characters who are adventurers and explorers, rather than refugees and outcasts.
They are a part of a new, challenging America as well. Here Bharati Mukherjee
40

mainly expends her narrative voice to explore not only the lives of immigrants but
also those of European Americans who have been brought into contact with
cultures about which they have little knowledge. The characters in The Middleman
and Other Stories learn eventually that it is an opportunity to have to remake their
lives and their personal identities, but sometimes they feel it as a curse also as they
see that they can play an active part in the new culture that is slowly coming to
accept them. This work is a marked development in the themes of Bharati
Mukherjee immigrant tales. These stories having a passionate, comic, violent and
tender touch are truly become successful to draw the readers into the center of a
cultural fusion.
Mukherjee novels The Tigers Daughter (1972) and Wife (1975) were
written during the period of alienation in Canada. Both the novels are about the
isolation of Indian expatriates. In The Tigers Daughter the protagonist, Tara
decides to return to India due to homesickness and shadowy fears that haunt her
while living abroad, in other words, nostalgia impels her homecoming. Nostalgia
happens, as Lynne Huffer points out, when you want to retrieve the past, to return
to the good old days (1998 36). Nostalgia presents a longing for that which is
lost (1998 16). When there is a long distance to go back to a place one is eager to
go to, nostalgia begins creeping inside ones mind and makes a longing to return to
where one really wants to go. However, Tara feels alien and hostile when she
returns to India after seven years. When she landed her motherland, she realized
that she is neither an Indian nor an American. Tara feels alien in India where she
dreamed to return without hesitation. However, American life replaces her memory
of India. In the States, she has forgotten the gestures, the tones of voice, the
deportment and the dismissals of Calcutta, and they rush back to her memory
only with dizzy assurance (1972 30).
Bharati Mukherjee, who subsequently moved to the United States, sees
herself as an American, and her writing centers on the experiences of Indian
women who have migrated to the United States. Wife (1975) was one of the novels
about the post-1965 immigrant experience. It serves as an interesting window onto
the times of a just developing Indian community in the New York area in the
1970s, and of the particularly gendered experiences of migration and exile.
Mukherjee constructs a sense of Indianness with clear gestures toward the
possibility of becoming AAmerican. Wife talks about psychic experiences of
displacement. The main character, Dimple, comes to the United States with her
engineer husband and undergoes a process of alienation from her past, her
community and her partner that symptomatize broader forces at work in this
historical moment of migration (Shukla 161). As a female figure isolated from the
homeland that imparted her sense of self and an accessible identity. Dimple serves
41

as a device for Mukherjee to trace the ways that conditions in migrant New York
have affected Indian women.
According to Sandhya Shukla, even before Dimples departure to the United
States, Mukherjee suggests that the reader have a close look at the terms in which
migration is being understood and experienced at this historical moment. The late
1960s, it was not an easy time for the people who were living in countries like
India to go to United States because of restrictive immigration rules. And the
development of a Fordist mass culture between the 1920s and 1960s, and its export
around the world, meant that many post1965 new immigrants had already
assimilated much of the United States before arriving in the country (2005 161).
After late 1960s, people who could afford the fare could experience fantasies, and
America becomes a place of both economic and political success. America
constructed itself and was constructed by others as a place of unbridled economic
and political success. Some Indians who came to the United States undoubtedly
lived those inventions, by greeting an expanding economy and being among a
group so small as yet unable to rouse racial discrimination. But by the early 1970s,
enough Indians had immigrated so that more sober understandings of life in the
United States began to take hold. Difficulties in obtaining jobs and advancing in
well established industries and fields as well as tightening immigration rules in
response to the unexpected influx of people under the 1965 Immigration and
Naturalization Act shaped new understandings of the Indian migrant, for those
abroad as well as for those back home (Shukla 162).
Mukherjees protagonist experiences the act of migration and settlement in
the United States in ways that mirror the complication and contradictory
perceptions of life abroad. To set the scene, Dimple is made to face a skeptical
view of immigration just before leaving India; she goes to a party of one of her
close friends, Pixie, who remarks: Youre so lucky! ... I wish I were leaving
tomorrow (1975 45). As Pixie then excitedly relays to another woman, Ratna Das
that Dimple is going to the United States. Das says, It might be fun to go for a
vacation ... But I wouldnt want to settle there. Pixie replies: Me too, I wouldnt
want to feel a foreigner all my life. As Dimple struggles to understand this
interrogation of her simple dreams of a life in the United States, she asks, But
why would you feel like a foreigner if you went as an immigrant? Moreover, Das
quickly retorts with, You may think of it as immigration, my dear, but what you
are is a resident alien (1975 46). The character Das imbues the category of
resident alien with racial undertones that distinguish Indians from other
immigrants and Americans, Dimples own dreams of a new life, and in general, a
more romantic vision of migration, economic success, social freedom, and
42

independence from extended family responsibilities, are tempered by this thorny


question of status in the United States.
She finds her new life impossible to adjust to, and her attempts to become
American to learn to speak American English by watching television. This incident
causes her to question her own cultural values, and even her own happiness. These
are questions she might never have asked herself in Calcutta, and had she done so
and found herself equally disillusioned, her solution, the novel suggests, would
probably have been suicide. The infidelity and the murder that brings the novel to
its shocking close are the alternatives with which Dimples American experience
has provided her. Mukherjees characters experience displacement and ultimately
Americanization in many ways. They live within Indian communities, and that
creates difficulties of a different sort. Mukherjee herself being an expatriate
deracinated from her roots in the early 70s, her autobiographical projection of
characters in the early 80s, explore the dilemma of transition. Through her
characters, she explores the migrants own perceptions about their integration
rather than natives attitude toward migrants. In Two ways to Belongs to America
she writes,
I need to feel like a part of the community I have adopted (as I tried to feel
in Canada as well). I need to put roots down, to vote and make the difference
that I can. The price that the immigrant willingly pays and that the exile
avoids, in the trauma of self-transformation (Mukherjee 273).
Dimple realizes that the place she lives in is America, a place where she
thinks everything is possible and of course, you can make and control your life. In
India, where Amit is the boss, she has to experience his permissions and restraints,
however, this is New York, she does not trust him anymore, does not trust his
high pitched yes and no which had once seemed Oracular (1975 89).
Mukherjee claims herself, not as a minority, but rather as an American. She
asserts in interviews and essays: I believe that some people were meant to be
American even if they never leave their village in Punjab- at heart, they are
American (Brewster 34). By American, Mukherjee means being possessed of a
spirit of adventurousness, an understanding that is most forcefully articulated in
her immigrant novel Jasmine (1989). For the most part, however, Jasmine, is more
in keeping with an adventure novel, even a fantasy novel, owing to the fact that its
eponymous narrator, who also has at least five other names achieves a
Americanness by obliterating the real condition of immigration and diaspora
(Vignissen 164).
This story explores the meeting of East and West through immigrant
experiences in the U.S. and Canada with the idea of the great melting pot of culture
43

in the United States. Jasmine develops this idea of the East and West with a story
telling of a young Hindu woman who leaves India for the U.S. after her husbands
murder, only to be raped and eventually returned to the position of a caregiver
through a series of jobs (Alam 100). The unity between the First and Third
Worlds is shown to be in the treatment of women as subordinate in both countries.
As Edward Said, writes in his essay: Reflections on Exile,
Exile is the unhealable rift between a human being and a native place,
between the self and the true home: its essential sadness can never be
surmounted the achievements of exile are permanently undermined by the
loss of something left behind forever (101).
In The Holder of the World (1993), Mukherjees focus continues to be on
immigrant women and their freedom from relationships to become individuals. She
also uses the female characters to explore the spatiotemporal connection between
different cultures.
Mukherjee next novel Desirable Daughters (2002), encompasses the
element of autobiography and claims the feminist issue in Indian context in an
alien land. Tara, a self possessed and curious woman, exhibits a fervent quest for
identity and space of her own. In Desirable Daughters, Bharati Mukherjee talks
about a mythic family story. A pre-arranged marriage goes wrong when the
intended groom dies of snakebite on his way to the marriage ceremony. Tara
Latas father marries her to a tree in order to save his daughters life and to uphold
his Hindu faith. The author tells us that in Hinduism a woman reaches nirvana
through worshipping her husband as God and a woman without a husband is not
only a social outcast but doomed to be reincarnated. She is excluded from society,
not even allowed to associate with any religious or marriage ceremony.
The story continues in modern day San Francisco. Tara Lata, the namesake
of The Tree-Bride is divorced from her billionaire husband, Bish; firmly
established with a teenage son Rabi and a Hungarian Buddhist lover, Andy,
contractor yoga teacher and former biker. Tara stays in touch with her husband
even after their divorce. She lives a complacent life until, one day a boy appears in
her house as a guest of her son. He says he is Chris Dey, looking for Taras eldest
sister, Padma, who he claims is his mother, conceived through an affair with a
prominent businessperson named Ronald Dey. Tara says, They are sisters three as
like as three blossoms on one flowering tree. However, they are not (2002 22). As
Bharati Mukherjee points out, an American can always feel some sense of security,
but everything can be pulled out from under the immigrant, in this case by their
own culture, which created caste and class system something they, the elite,
benefitted from while growing up, but has now come back to haunt them.
44

Before the incident of Chris Dey Tara never bothered to turn back and
examine her life. She usually talks all good things with her sisters and parents over
the telephone, but she reconsiders her assumptions about her family and begins her
quest for reality. It is through this quest she finds her identity as well. In order to
discover the truth there was no one to help her. Her lover detests her going to the
police, her son gets irritated, but she decides to find out the truth and goes on in her
efforts on her own experiences. Bharati Mukherjee calls Desirable Daughters
(2002), a domestic thriller, a portrait of shifting cultures, a rather unconventional
romance. She says, I also have two sisters, she explained that she is playing with
author-protagonist relationships in ways that she havent before. She thinks it
because she wants to write an autobiography, but she just cant bring herself to.
She creates masks. Its a story about three sisters following different to her
(Sreenivasan 48).
The novel at the end comes full circle back to India and the legend of Tara
Lata the Tree Bride, but this device doesnt quite work either. The denouement
somehow goes slack and does not yield a satisfying end to the story. This novel
speaks volumes of the cultural differences between the Indian and American way
of life. Bharati Mukherjee gives us a vivid picture of India of her childhood, a
world of that no longer exists and probes the effects of this upbringing on the three
sisters. The structure on which the Indian social world is built appears and is
hypocritical which may tend to make the two older sisters seem superficial,
although they are both fairly complex characters.
Mukherjee takes up the story of the revered Tree Bride, a freedom fighter in
Indias struggle for independence. The story of the child bride whose groom dies
shortly before the wedding and is thus married to a tree to spare her the humiliation
of widowhood is what sets Tara out of her journey, but she finds more than she
bargained for. Tara Lata, it turns out, was a nationalist freedom fighter who used
her dowry to aid the forces fighting for independence. She brought literacy to her
people and was a source of wisdom for women and men in Mishtigunj. Tara finds
in her a larger than life figure, a woman who forces her to think her stance on her
own past and identity. Taras search for identity allows her to explore new
mistakes of life and alter her completely prospective and perception of life. In
addition, in this process she realizes how little she knows about her own self.
Mukherjees depiction of women and their different relationship portrays the
dominance of patriarchal practices in traditional society, as well as the forms of
liberation and empowerment, which are available to women in their diasporic
situation. Her female characters are real, modern lifelike. They are typical
representatives of young women particularly of the third world countries who
cherish the dream of immigrating to America for higher education and higher
45

wages and then after arrival there, aspire to settle there permanently. Their
situations and the difficulties they face are also realistically portrayed in her
creation.
Migrants like Tara, Dimple, Jasmine have a propensity to converge, and so
does Mukherjee albeit quite gradually, to the standard of natives. In Two way to
Belong to America in her candid confession, Mukherjee bemoans the state of
overseas citizenship while expecting the permanent protection and economic
benefits that comes with living and working in America (Mukherjee 149). The
constant reminder of language, physical differences and loss of the native land no
longer problematised the exceptionally intricate Endeavour of assimilation, rather,
Jasmines peculiarity of her personality adds to the mystic charm.

Farrukh Dhondy
Dhondy was born on 1944 in Poona, India, is an Indian-born British writer,
playwright, screenwriter and left-wing activist of Parsi descent, who resides in the
United Kingdom. His father retired as a Colonel in the Indian Army and so was
posted to various parts of India through Dhondy's childhood and youth. His mother
raised her three children Farrukh Dhondy who is the eldest and his two younger
46

sisters,while following her husband on his army postings, and in consequence


Dhondy lodged with his grandfather in Poona whilst going to school and college.
He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the Poona University in 1964 and
was awarded a scholarship to read English at Cambridge University, after which he
moved to Leicester University for his Master's degree. He did an M.A. in English
and American literature at Leicester but always the metropolis acted as a magnet
because I had no roots in Britain at the time. It was back to painting houses and
kitchen work because the many interviews brought no settled employment: some
said I was over-qualified; some just took a look at my face and said no. He had no
definite career in mind; it was more earn some money and buy a ticket back to
India. Then somebody says to me, Go and apply to the ILEA theyll take
anybody. I drifted into teaching, liked it, and stuck with it (Interviewed by Pat
Triggs).
Farrukh Dhondy came to Great Britain to be a schoolteacher, and also
embarked on a career as an author, journalist, and playwright. Identifying with the
growing number of non-white teens who were coming of age at that time, Dhondy
has become known for works, such as the short-story collection East End at Your
Feet that show the confusion and anxieties of these young people. He has also been
praised by critics for using accurate descriptions, dialect, and slang expressions to
add emphasis to his tales.
Dhondy in his incarnation as Commissioning Editor for Multi-Cultural
Programming for Channel 4 (1984-97) commissioned hundreds of hours of TV in
all genres, including the Oscar nominated Salaam Bombay, Shekhar Kapur's
Bandit Queen, and award-winning TV shows like Desmonds and Family Pride.
In Bombay Duck (1990) Dhondy writes about British subcultures, the
British theatre scence, the British education system, the Parsi Faith, diasporic
foundlings and confounding, Indian fundamentalism, Indian class dynamics, chop
suey and much more. Ali Abdul Rahman, nee Gerald Blossom, is a stage actor
who tells the first half of the story, mouthing a comic black patois. His story is
essentially his discovery by David Stream, a stage sultan of cross-cultural hype obviously modelled on Peter Brook - who is mounting an international production
of the Ramayana. This novel celebrates the bicultural identity and great culture that
divides the two worlds of the East and the West.
Black Swan (1992) Rose Hassan is a mixed-race schoolgirl, living in Brixton
with her mother and hoping to study drama at university. Her mother falls ill and
Rose has to take over her job as career and amanuensis to the elderly Mr. Bernier.
Mr. B, as Rose calls him, needs Rose to be his eyes and ears, visiting a churchyard
in East London and transcribing the diary of Elizabethan alchemist Simon Forman.
47

Within the pages of that diary is concealed the secret identity of the man who
authored Shakespeare's plays, and the true fate of Christopher Marlowe. And out in
the real world riots in Brixton, a burglary, Mr. B's shady past as Education Minister
for a small Caribbean republic Rose finds herself targeted by people who want to
know Mr. B's true identity. It is revealed that Mr. B is also referred as Mr. Claude
and Mr. Johnson. By the end of the novel Nina came to know that none of these
names is actually his own, is a West Indian dissident who faked his own death to
abscond with millions of dollars in foreign aid money from his tiny Caribbean
homeland.
Dhondy came to Great Britain to be a schoolteacher, and also embarked on a
career as an author, journalist, and playwright. Identifying with the growing
number of non-white teens who were coming of age at that time, Dhondy has
become known for works, such as the short-story collection East End at Your
Feet, that show the confusion and anxieties of these young people. He has also
been praised by critics for using accurate descriptions, dialect, and slang
expressions to add emphasis to his tales. As well as being a writer of books for
children, young adults and adults, Dhondy writes for theatre, film and television,
and is also a columnist, a biographer (of C.L.R. James (2001)), and a former media
executive (Channel Four Commissioning Editor for Multicultural Programmes
1984-97). At this time he wrote the comedy series Tandoori Nights (1985-87) for
the channel, which concerned the rivalry of two, curry house owners. Dhondy has
written among his childrens stories KBW (Keep Britain White), a study of a
young white boy's response to anti-Bengali racism
East End at Your feet (1976) the first announced the arrival of a major
new writer for teenagers. Its subject matter and language were attacked; but
genuine literary ability and a voice that speaks directly to the experience of today's
inner-city kids meant that Dhondy not only survived but went on to write more.
His books East End at Your feet (1976) and Mecca and other Stories (1978)
have been chosen twice for The Other Award and in 1978 won the Collins/Fontana
competition for Books for Multi-Ethnic Britain.
The Siege of Babylon (1978), like several of Dhondy's stories, is also very
moving. And its full of the realistic dialogue which is characteristic of his work.
The book has been criticized for its sexist perception of the white woman, Edwina',
a drama teacher who has been sleeping with two of the men. Id like to take up
honest debate with people who are stuck on these notions of what a book should do
with sex and race. I certainly think literature should do things with sex and race but
I dont believe the demands they are making on writers or on readers are in any
sense helpful. For some women, Edwina was too credible. The book is concerned
with a white girl who has this puerile fascination with young black boys and allows
48

it to determine her behaviour. There has always been a particular class of women
like that in Britain. If Edwina today goes with Black youth, in the nineteenth
century she would have gone with avant-garde artists... and in the thirties she
might have been with leftie poets. Its an attempt to try and describe a class of
women who rely on males to draw their power. Theyre a bloodsucker class and I
don't see that one shouldn't be allowed to mercilessly portray such a person. I can
see that there are other kinds of women about but I think you have to feel
something about a character before you begin to write about them. If all you feel
about the feminists you personally know is that they're idiots and windbags, then
you dont want to put them in a novel. There's no excitement attendant upon their
being there.
Mecca and other Stories (1978) second collection of stories has been
criticised for some of its subject matter and its bad language. For those who are
enraged by such ignorance, Dhondy's casual dismissal of these critics - as if theyre
a temporary irrelevance - is instructive. It accords with his calm confidence that
Britain's working class - the most sophisticated in the world - will eventually create
a modern, enlightened socialist state.
Poona Company (1983) a collection of short stories Dhondy calls an anti
egotistic autobiography, It portrayals of time, place and the young people that his
life revolved around, these are more real than just stories that emerge out of ones
mind. What appear to be farcical or humorous anecdotes finally turn into a wellcrafted collection that overall succeeds in producing a larger narrative story about a
place and its inhabitants. Dhondy himself stands at the centre of these episodes
with a memory that plays a very specific role in the telling of his childhood stories.
The narrative skill sustains the interest of the reader; the comic element remains
natural throughout and is not contrived. The change in my Poona as Farrukh terms
the city of his childhood is recreated through nine stories contained in Poona
Company. The years spent on Sarbatwalla Chowak in the company of Eddie, the
gambler, who adored phonograph records, or the all-powerful Samson who is
always reluctant to work and who smashes the bicycles instead of apprehending
the thieves. In the company of such queer friends, Dhondy lived his early
experiences. But these are pieces more out of real life than fictional. As he explains
in an interview: None of the stories are invented. All of them are taken from real
episodes and real people. Some of the characters with their names are represented
as best as I could from real life. Others and the plots are amalgamations of people I
knew and events I observed.
Dhondys book represents a conscious change of direction. I have been
typecast as one of the multi-cultural writers in Britain. Its a sequence of stories
set in the Poona of his boyhood, based on things that happened then and people
49

that he knew. I wanted to write about India and show a kind of India that's
invisible today because it hasn't been portrayed in literature so much, in English.
Ill be extremely interested to see if the Multi-culturalism of progressive teachers
extends to stories about India too.
Trip Trap Mandarin Exam (1982) tells about the student called Spiggy
who didnt do the CSE English test. He considered that the test didnt have
contribution for his future. He had a big obsession to be a writer. Spiggy has round
character. At the beginning he is like a very competitive student, he wanted to win
the bet, but in another setting he is very easy to give up, narrow minded and
undisciplined. Next character is Mr. Scot as the teacher. He was a typically
impatient discipline, temperamental teacher. Another character is the headmaster.
The headmaster was wise, caring and charismatic. The last character is Wu Fan
tsi. Wu Fan tsi was never gave up. He was full of curiosity. His desire to pass the
mandarin has to be appreciated and is given thumbs-up. This story has two
settings. The first setting is at school. Precisely were in classroom, headmaster
room and corridor school. Secondly is in China. We can see there are significantly
different point of view between of Wu Fan tsi and Spiggy. Spiggy give up easily
before doing exam. Its different with Wu fan tsi. Wu Fan Tsi sees the exam as
attempt that can be able to send him up at successfulness to reach his goals. In his
life he never desperate, he is a hard worker and he never tired to try. The issues
come up in this story is that the obstinacy in reaching desire. To reach it, needs a
very long way of experiences. We could not get anything we want easily, it have to
pass through a process. This story also has the issue of keeping fight to reach
anything we want in this life. This story teaches us to not give up, be patient and
keep trying to reach our desire although we face some failures and challenges.
Thus, it can be affirmed that the trajectory of Indian English fiction has not
been linear; rather, the whirls of social, economic and cultural transformations
reshaped it as an entity entirely different from what it used to be. With India taking
pride in all sort of success stories in different spheres of life, and with a number of
failures in the form of scams and scandals, Indian English fiction has portrayed the
newly defined social, economic and cultural realities. It is only because of their
sensitivity towards the changing national realities with the fine mix of Indian
fiction.

50

Salman Rushie an Inspiration to Indian Novelists


Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. He was
born on June 19, 1947 in Mumbai, India. He was educated in Mumbai and in
England.He moved with his family to Pakistan at the age of 17. He was educated at
the Cathedral School, Bombay, and then at Rugby Boys' School, England, before
attending King's College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a B. A. in
1968. During his years of schooling in England, he experienced minor persecution
and racist attacks. However, upon graduation he chose to remain in Britain,
51

working as an actor and advertising copywriter before becoming a full-time writer,


producing his first novel, Grimus, in 1975.
Rushdies novels deal with many themes like history, politics, love, shame,
religion, exile and rootlessness. His work is so particular, in terms of subject
matter, themes, setting, story-telling devices and formal literary method that no one
but he can speak in his tongue. The world is suffering from identity crisis.
Moreover, every writer has indicated towards it, Rushdie's novels also reflect in
this direction. In each novel Rushdie uses the same pattern he explores the
philosophical significance of ideals and concepts through a number of characters
who are so intimately connected that they literally or figuratively fuse, and when
they separate they share the identity of one another.
Grimus a science-fiction enthusiasts due to the fantastic nature of the story,
in which a young Native American embarks upon a quest to ascertain the meaning
of life after having become immortal. This journey through new dimensions
portrays human contact with other universes and alien life, and an underlying fable
employs social satire typical of Rushdie's work. It is an allegory of politics of
Western powers. In, Grimus, the Quest 'motif' of the Flapping Eagle, the
protagonist is allegorically presented : at a domestic level, if it is a quest for his
sister, the Bird-Dog, at a symbolic and more important level, it is his quest and
interaction with Grimus, which provides the essential fictional value of the
narrative. Flapping Eagle is a creature with a dual consciousness of Time and Time
lessens. His quest is essentially beyond the realms of Time for conquering the
limitations of Death. His quest is thus denuded of history and temporal
consciousness.
Grimus pioneers some of the rhetorical devices that Rushdie would go on to
employ with increasing ease over his writing careerwildly different but parallel
plots that eventually converge, if not on a literal level, then on a thematic one;
verbal jokes, miscues and riddles whose solution clarifies and crystalizes questions
of human nature or metaphysics; extreme opposites that, paired, become
archetypes; linguistic fireworks and outright slapstick comedy. Virgil Jones, the
protagonists long-suffering self-exiled guide, knows the full secret of Calf Island
and the mysterious stone rose, but cant explain. Knowing that Flapping Eagle
must discover it and either continue the existence of the immortals or reject its
burden, he can only take his protg a certain distance and, like the other Virgil,
hope he chooses wisely.
Buried within the novel and easily overlooked is the germ of a theme that
Rushie would go on to explore in subsequent novelsthe necessity of the
multicultural. The community of K is peopled by Grimus select few, the men and
52

women to whom he offered immortality, all of whom made their way to Calf
Island. Its a pure community. Its also stultifyingly dull. All the jokes are old,
all stories known; even the prostitutes in Madame Jocastas House of the Rising
Son have run out of tricks. Failure to change, failure to accommodate change,
failure to accept the rot and mortality of the world--all lead by necessity to sterile
existence, an existence dependent upon illusion. When Flapping Eagle, who,
despite his albinism, is the only obviously non-white immortal, arrives, he brings
change. And change brings death. Actually, it brings more than deatha
deathless acceptance of inevitability.
According to Salman Rushdie, it was very dangerous to write a novel like
this. Rushdie adopts the theme of the novel from a religious/spiritual source. He
told in his interview that he adopted the theme of this novel from Sufi poetry, and
used them in the context of a Western fantasy novel. It was a poem by a 12th
century Persian Sufi called Attar, Farid-ul-din Attar, who wrote a poem which is a
kind of Persian equivalent to Pilgrims Progress. It was a poem about birds. They
were in search of a bird God. But, in the novel of Rushdie, a bird, Flapping, is in
search of his sister. Rushdie himself accepted that he was interested in science
fiction
His second novel Midnight Children (1981) a masterpiece is his sensual
work which catapulted him to international fame. It deals with distorted politics of
Eastern Hindu India. Born at the hour of the creation of India and Pakistan from
colonial British India, the children are the masters and victims of their time. Born
to be destroyed by the weight of history, their lives reflect the destiny of their
society. Cardinal political events in Indias modern history are directly echoed in
momentous happenings in their lives, while the cultural history of past millennia
forms the backdrop of the action. History and myth painfully merge. Speaking for
all the children, Saleem cries out, Why, alone of all the more-than-five-hundredmillion, should I have to bear the burden of history?
The political history is the starting points of the quest Saleem Sinai
announce his emergence into this world in a moment of political reality: The world
of Azids, the progenitors of the three generations of the Muslims is the beginning
of the narrative. The historical recreation of the individual destiny is realized as
part of an imaginative device in fulfilling the larger thematic purpose, namely, the
search for identity in Saleem Sinai's mind. This wavering between the supposed
alien-ness and real rootedness at least in some profound manner, provides the
essential thematic focus of the narrative. The emerging political scenario, the
introduction of the world of politics and the politicians is related to the narrators
world.
53

Gender is a topic that is often viewed through a on e-dimensional lens. The


distinction between members of the opposite sex and the physical attributes that
each should possess appear to be quite obvious. However, the typical assumption
of male versus female being the only defining aspect of gender is not so simplistic.
When viewed in terms of masculinity and femininity, the idea of gender can be
explored on a much more broad and complex level. In the context of postcolonial
literature, this is frequently the case. Postcolonialism focuses on cultural and
national identity in literature produced by the people of current or former colonies
in places like the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Many
postcolonial authors delve into to the issue of gender when expressing their ideas
about postcolonialism. How an individual that lives in does, comes from, or has
history with a certain country or region which has been colonized, shape his or her
identity? In the work of many Middle Eastern and South Asian authors, gender is
one of the best tools to use when exploring identity. In Rushdies novel Shame,
masculinity and femininity are important factors in how certain characters
function. This growing desire to define identity as it relates to the characters in
Shame is not only confined to the individuals in the story, but it is also an issue
relevant to the nation of Pakistan as well. Most of the characters in the story are
symbolic references to actual political figures in Pakistan. In addition, they also
represent different periods in the countrys history, both political and social.
Shame (1983) dramatizes military politics of divided Muslim India. It
presents the history of Pakistan. It is a mixture of history, politics, allegory and
satire. It is critical of Bhutto, his daughter Benazir and Zia-ul-Haq. Omar Khayyam
Shakil is the protagonist who is a peripheral, fragmented personality in Pakistan.
He is the son of three mothers and anonymous father. He is congenitally an
isolated self. It is a political novel that presents dictatorship syndrome through
caricature and irony.
Shame is more a treatise on diaspora than merely fiction and Rushdies
authorial intervention makes the novel a discourse rather than an entertaining
fiction. At the same time, it is a most overtly political novel, in which Rushdie
takes the theme of the ailing Pakistan. It is the novel where the novelist deals with
the feminine aspect of postcolonial theory; how they are doubly marginalized and
how they are in the clutch of patriarchy.
Rushdie is an Indian and a Muslim also, so he knows a lot of things about
India and Pakistan. He uses Muslim religion and both these countries in his novels.
Rushdie himself writes in his third novel Shame I,too, know something of this
immigrant business. I am an emigrant from one country (India) and a newcomer in
two (England, where I lived and Pakistan, to which my family moved against my
will) (1983 85) These lines show his love for India and in an interview he accepts
54

himself, If you have to choose a nationality as a writer, Id call myself an Indian


writer (interview 2005)
When I was writing The Satanic Verses, if you had asked me about the
phenomenon that we all now know as radical Islam, I wouldn't have had
much to say. As recently as the mid-1980s, it didn't seem to be a big deal.
What happened in response to the book demonstrated the beginning of a new
era. Its not even to do with violence. It's to do with a committed radical
philosophy that was very well organized. I would be vain to say that I
stimulated the rise of Islamic radicalism, but I was the pretext that they
found, given that they were looking for pretexts." He recalls the days when
activism among minority groups in Britain was largely secular Asian left
politics. That was shifting - and I guess what happened with The Satanic
Verses helped - into a religious discourse. It creates difficulties within the
Asian community. Often Hindus or Sikhs feel that they are being treated like
radical muslims. You can't even blame people for it (Interview with James
Campbell).
Rushdies The Satanic Verses (1988)one of the most widely known and
controversial books in the world. Reviled by much of the international Muslim
community, the novel was banned in India and protested across the world for its
portrayal of certain sensitive topics such as the wives of the chief Islamic prophet
Muhammad and the infallibility of the Islamic holy book, the Quran. After the
Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or Islamic judicial decree, that
Rushdie and those involved in the publication of the book be killed, the novel
made headline news across the globe and inspired a diplomatic crisis between
countries, including Britain and Iran.
The Moors Singh (1995) post fatwa novel reencounters the Islamic world
examining the fluidity of history and cultural drift. The story of a famous singer
lost during an earthquake. Rushdie described it as a novel of our age in an
interview with CNN's Jonathan Mann. In April 2000 Rushdie created a sensation
by visiting India, his first visit to his birthplace since he was four years old. In
November 2001 Rushdie told the Manchester Guardian that most Muslims' view
of Islam is jumbled and half-examined. He criticized Muslims for blaming
outsiders for the world's problems and said that they needed to accept the
changes in the modern world to truly achieve freedom.
The Clown is his return to the Indian sub-continent that he left in The
Ground beneath Feet and Fury. The novel demystifies the political upheaval of
Kashmir that resulted due to the interference of America. The novelist delineates
the story of post-colonial Kashmir and explains the reasons why the paradise
55

became hell, how the Hindu-Muslim unity came under suspicion, why and how the
citizens of paradise started becoming terrorists and what role India and Pakistan
played in creating the chaos and commotion. Through the story of Shalimar and
Boonyi, Rushdie displays the Hindu-Muslim harmony that existed before
independence. The central theme of the novel is the making of a terrorist as terror
becomes a global phenomenon and a cause of concern worldwide. The effort to
look into the mind and get under the skin of a terrorist becomes an artistic
challenge that the novelist has dealt competently in the Shalimar the Clown. In
fact, the novel narrates the story of postcolonial and post-independence Kashmir.
Since Rushdie is a political novelist, Shalimar the Clown is a blending of realism
and magic realism. Like The Moors Last Sigh. Rushdie again imagines a
composite culture where race, religion and identity do not matter as in the idea of
Kashmir. The novelist shows in the novel how gradually the composite culture is
destroyed by both military and militancy. Before 1947, there was no point of
dispute between Hindu and Muslim. They used to celebrate each others festivals.
But the independence of India and Pakistan transformed this paradise into a battle
field where ignorant armies and citizens are being killed by their own citizens.
In his last venture, Rushdie presents adventures of colonizers. The
Enchantress of Florence is a novel that is set in medieval India, at the time of the
Mughal Emperor Akbar, the Great at the time when colonizers began to arrive and
establish their trade. As is customary with Salman Rushdie, he never adheres to a
single theme in his fictions. So is the case with The Enchantress of Florence.
Salman Rushdie mixes up past with present to create a better future. The novel is
set in sixteenth century India, it delineates the colonial situations and conditions
Magor dell Amore is the representative of white colonialists, who lands on the
shore of India and makes his way to Sikri to the court of Akbar and succeeds in
befooling the wisest king. The female protagonist of the fiction Qara Koz seems to
represent the counter discourse to the colonialism. The colonial enterprise was a
product of western androcentric imperialist desire. Qara Koz, on the other hand is a
woman of Asian blood who manages to bring the whole of Florence, the epitome
of western civilization of that period under her influence. She represents the
subversion of the colonial enterprise. If for the colonizers, the oriental, Qara Koz
represents all those qualities for she is an enchantress and enchantment is neither
rational nor scientific.
The novel has a helical structure and intertwines two stories, which then go
in diverse directions. Mogor comes to India and becomes closer to Emperor than
his nine jewels. In the same way Qara Koz goes, from central Asia to Europe and
becomes the heartthrob of Europeans. But in the end Mogor is exposed as liar and
56

has to leave India. This was the condition of colonizers; they came, established
themselves and were forced to run away.
As Rushdies earlier ventures, his latest fiction is also riddled with various
layers of meaning. Identity crisis, multi-culturalism, humanism, feminism, post
colonialism and decolonialism are the recurrent theme of this novel. In this novel
Rushdie attacks colonial Empire with its own tool, and to some extent he succeeds.
The Moors Singh more postmodern and less postcolonial, though Rushdie
does not deviate from his favorite themes. The protagonist and narrator Mores
inherits the mixture of races and creeds that is India. His mother Aurora has the
blood of Portuguese invaders as well as Catholicism in her veins whereas his father
is one of the last Jews of Cochin and a descendant of Boabdil, the last Moorish
ruler of Spain. The entire family mimics the chaotic diversity of South India.
Throughout the narrative Rushdie celebrates this hybridity, multiplicity, and
multiculturalism. In this saga, the novelist presents a family that splits on the
ground of nationalism and anti-nationalism and this division resembles the
divisions in the country at large. Rushdie shows how in the same family there are
two types of people pro-Empire and freedom loving. The protagonist and narrator
Mores inherits the mixture of races and creeds that is India. His mother Aurora has
the blood of Portuguese invaders as well as Catholicism in her veins whereas his
father is one of the last Jews of Cochin and a descendant of Boabdil, the last
Moorish ruler of Spain. The entire family mimics the chaotic diversity of South
India.
The Ground beneath Her Feet (1999) explores the boundary-crossing
potential of music. It is also influenced by Shakespeare. This is a love story of
Ormus Cama and Vina Apsara. In the novel, a father, John Poe, tells his daughter
about the benefit of the milk of goat in comparison with the milk of cow Nissy
Poe grew up without knowing the taste of cow milk. John Poe told her that goat
milk was easier to digest, and even encouraged her to wash her face in it as a
beauty treatment, as Queen Cleopatra used to do. Queen Cleopatra from
Shakespeares plays Julius Ceasar and Antony and Cleopatra by William
Shakespeare.
In 1990 Rushdie released the fantasy novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories,
written for his son by his first marriage. That same year Rushdie publicly
embraced Islam and apologized to those offended by the The Satanic Verses. He
made several appearances in London bookstores to autograph his newest work. But
even after the Ayatollah's death, his successor, Iran's President Hashemi
Rafsanzani, refused to lift the death sentence. Rushdie continued to appear in
public only occasionally, and then under heavy security.
57

Fury (2001) thematizes creativity against the background of pop culture.


Rushdie's works deal with the fractured lives of people against the onslaught of
historical events. As a Diaspora writer, Rushdie transcends mere geographical and
physical migration dealing with spiritual alienation and rootlessness.
Although Rushdies mother tongue is Urdu but he adopts English for his
literary writings and for his works. Now Rushdie is a bright star of English
literature. He himself writes about his language But my own mother- tongue,
Urdu, the camp- argot of the countrys earlier Muslim conquerors, became
naturalized sub-continental language long ago; and by now that has happened to
English, too. English has become an Indian language. It colonial origins mean that,
like Urdu and unlike all other Indian languages, it has no regional base; but in all
other ways, it has emphatically come to stay (1997).
One is struck here, not just by the implied disregard for the free speech of
other writers who might not qualify for the quality defense, but also by the lordly
nonchalance with which Rushdie places himself alongside Lawrence, Joyce, and
Nabokov in the ranks of literary merit. Throughout this memoir, Rushdie claims
kinship with any number of great literary menmen who, like him, suffered for
their genius, but whose fame was destined to outlast that of their oppressors:
The immortal writers of the past were his guides. He was not, after all, the
first writer to be endangered or sequestered or anathematized for his art. He
thought of mighty Dostoyevsky facing the firing squad and then, after the
last-minute commutation of his sentence, spending four years in a prison
camp, and of Genet unstoppably writing his violently homoerotic
masterpiece Our Lady of the Flowers in jail. Rabelais too had been
condemned by religious authority; the Catholic Church had been unable to
stomach his satirical hyperabundance. But he had been defended by the king,
Franois I, on the grounds that his genius could not be suppressed. Those
were the days, when artists could be defended by kings because they were
good at what they did. These were lesser times.
Unlike Saleem Sinai and Omar Khayyam, Rushdie has to establish his
emotional identity with yet another national situation, that is, England. As Rushdie
tells us with an almost morbid and recurrent emphasis: I am an emigrant from one
country (India) a new comer in two (England, where I live, and Pakistan, to which
my family moved against my will)... We have performed the act of which all men
anciently dream, the thing for which they envy the birds; that is to say, we have
flown. It seems that on the issue of identity Rushdie's heroes are a voice of him.
The central theme of Rushdies work: hybridity. The idea that newness can
come into the world through the hybridity of the nation, the individual person, the
58

language one uses, and the narrative of history is threaded throughout his collected
works. In Midnights Children, Rushdie works to create a new way of viewing the
history of a nation and a people, one which allows room for diversity and
heterogeneity. In Shame, however, Rushdie shows the dangers of refusing
hybridity when a nation forcefully declares what its identity will be. In The Satanic
Verses, Rushdie tries to articulate the experience of translation and transformation
that all migrants undergo when they immigrate West. His characters discover that
they must reconcile themselves to the complexity of their cultural and national
identities. And finally, Rushdie uses a unique, Indianized form of English
throughout these three foundational novels in order to question the established
hierarchy of Standard English over personal, hybrid forms of the language
Rushdies novels are in spite of their global scope, their wide-reaching
themes, and their attempts to embody all humanity intensely personal affairs.
Echoes of his own life experiences appear in nearly every novel. Two of his
novels, Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) and Luka and the Fire of Life (2010)
were written specifically for his sons. He frequently returns to Bombay, his
hometown and most beloved city. Even in his later novels, he still appears to be
working through his relationship with India. In The Ground Beneath Her Feet,
Rushdie calls India my terra infirma, my maelstrom, my cornucopia, my crowd.
India, my too-muchness, my everything at once, my Hug-me, my fable, my
mother, my father, and my first great truth (1999 249). He admits that as a migrant
writer, he can never quite capture India accurately, but instead will only be able to
create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary
homelands, Indias of the mind. Ultimately, whether his stories are accurate or not,
whether they capture the migrant experience or not, whether they are true or not,
they are, in Rushdies words, despite everything, acts of love.
Rushdie came from a liberal Westernized family which had no great fervor
for religious tradition: My relationship with formal religious belief has been
somewhat chequered. I was brought up in an Indian Muslim household, but while
both my parents were believers neither was insistent or doctrinaire. Two or three
times a year, at the big Eid festivals, I would wake up to find new clothes at the
foot of my bed, dress and go with my father to the great prayer-maidan outside the
Friday Mosque in Bombay, and rise and fall with the multitude, mumbling my way
through the uncomprehended Arabic much as Catholic children do--or used to do-with Latin. The rest of the year religion took a back seat. I had a Christian ayah
(nanny), for whom at Christmas we would put up a tree and sing carols about baby
Jesus without feeling in the least ill-at-ease. My friends were Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis,
and none of this struck me as being particularly important. (Rushdie: In God We
Trust 376-377)
59

Many of his Muslim critics have argued that The Satanic Verses, besides
being offensive, is bad fiction. Non-Muslim views have been distinctly mixed, the
most common criticism being that the novel does not "hold together" in a
disciplined fashion. But that is true of many fine novels, including many of
Rushdie's favorites. In a 1983 interview with Una Chaudhuri on the influences on
Midnight's Children he commented on his penchant for unconventionally-shaped
fictions:
As for other influences, well, there's Joyce, for a start. And Swift, and Stern.
I'm very keen on the eighteenth century in general, not just in literature. I
think the eighteenth century was the great century. Well, take Fielding; the
thing that's very impressive about Tom Jones is the plot, that you have this
enormous edifice which seems to be so freewheeling, rambling -- and
actually everything is there for a purpose. It's the most extraordinary piece of
organization which at the same time seems quite relaxed and not
straitjacketed by its plot. I think that's why the book is so wonderful. So, yes,
I would have thought the eighteenth-century novel had something to do with
mine. And Joyce, because Joyce shows you that you can do anything if you
do it properly.
With his literary reputation secured by the critical reception to Midnights
Children, Rushdie seems to have settled more comfortably into his identity as an
Indian writer in exile: We are Hindus who have crossed the black water; we are
Muslims who eat pork. And as a resultas my use of the Christian notion of the
Fall indicateswe are now partly of the West. Our identity is at once plural and
partial. Sometimes we feel that we straddle two cultures; at other times, that we
fall between two stools. But however ambiguous and shifting this ground may be,
it is not an infertile territory for a writer to occupy. If literature is in part the
business of finding new angles at which to enter reality, then once again our
distance, our long geographical perspective, may provide us with such angles
(Imaginary Homelands 15).
Throughout the narrative Rushdie celebrates this hybridity, multiplicity, and
multiculturalism. In this saga, the novelist presents a family that splits on the
ground of nationalism and anti-nationalism and this division resembles the
divisions in the country at large. Rushdie shows how in the same family there are
two types of people pro-Empire and freedom loving.

60

Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth writes about Delhi and San Franciso with equal facility in his
writings. He was born on June 20, 1952 in Calcutta, and he went to England to
study in 1969. Through his fiction and non-fiction works, he becomes so well
known in contemporary writing in English. While at Stanford, where he entrolled
at University of California for Ph.D in Economics. Seth was a Wallace Stegner
Fellow in creative writing. In 1994 he was awarded the Commonwealth Writers
Prize and was called a reliable spokeman of Indian cultural heritage and national
identity.
61

While at Stanford, Seth was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in creative writing.


He wrote the poems collected in Mappings during this time. From 1980 to 1982,
Seth was in China for two years of travel and economic research. While there, he
studied classical Chinese poetry and language at Nanjing University. He wrote an
account of a hitchhiking journey to India during this time, published as From
Heaven Lake. Seths works present a variety of subjects based on his experiences
and travels. The poetry collections The Humble Administrators Garden and All
You Who Sleep Tonight (1990) merge Chinese, Indian, and Californian influences;
From Heaven Lake details the hitchhiking trip through Nepal and Tibet that Seth
took while a student in China; and The Golden Gate is about young professionals
in San Francisco, searching for love and identity.
Vikram Seth through his writings depicts the socio political situation of
India of the early 1950s; in 1994 he was awarded the Commonwealth Writers
Prize. Through his fiction and non-fiction works, he becomes so well known in
contemporary writing in English. An Indian English writer but seems like a
diaspora because of his life style. He gets inside a culture and writes as if belongs
to that particular culture. This makes him an international writer. His work reflects
multiple identities.
Seth through his writings depicts the socio political situation of India of the
early 1950s, where the new born India was caught between its idealistic notion of
trying to create an equal and just nation, yet still struggling with age old practices
of untouchability, the caste system, Hindu, Muslim intolerance and other
prejudices. He has written extensively on political issue. He made great
contribution to enrich Indian English writing with respect to theme and techniques.
His style is very lucid and simple and he even succeeds in bringing the characters
to life. In an interview with Punekar, he says, I would be bored unless I wrote a
book that in some sense was a challenge.
Seth through his writings depicts the socio political situation of India of the
early 1950s, where the new born India was caught between its idealistic notion of
trying to create an equal and just nation, yet still struggling with age old practices
of untouchability, the caste system, Hindu, Muslim intolerance and other
prejudices. He has written extensively on political issue. He made great
contribution to enrich Indian English writing with respect to theme and techniques.
His style is very lucid and simple and he even succeeds in bringing the characters
to life. In an interview with Punekar, he says, I would be bored unless I wrote a
book that in some sense was a challenge.

62

Seth is an Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children's writer,


biographer and memoirist. His novels are The Golden Gate (1986), A Suitable Boy
(1993), An Equal Music (1999) and A Suitable Girl (2013).
The Golden Gate (1986) a traditional literary approach to storytelling, and
traditional nods to the humanitarian values honored by earlier sonnet writers. His
use of a hero seeking love in the world, having a series of related adventures, to the
use of jokes and puns, high and low humor, quick shifts in action, and the use of
gravity, surprise and social comment, Seth follows closely in the traditions of his
literary forbears. At the same time, Seth modernizes his story's parts and themes
appropriately. The modern concept of living is the twisting of everything to make
it fit into its own priorities and so a terrific disruption takes place. And modern
man becomes vulnerable to such influences.
Seth's novel in verse, The Golden Gate, in addition, comment has varied
widely. Although most critical observers would agree that its moral points are
worthy, some find the work panders to specific social and political issues and
agendas, or is excessively didactic. Seths messages' in this modern morality novel
include the value of friendship, the merit of nuclear disarmament, and the value of
individual self-realization. It exhibits a traditional literary approach to storytelling,
and traditional nods to the humanitarian values honored by earlier sonnet writers.
From, for example, his use of a 'hero' seeking love in the world, having a series of
related adventures, to the use of jokes and puns, high and low humor, quick shifts
in action, and the use of gravity, surprise and social comment, Seth follows closely
in the traditions of his literary forbears. At the same time, Seth modernizes his
story's parts and themes appropriately.
The Golden Gate is set in the San Francisco Bay area. Topics of Seths
comment include, among others, the role played by the Roman Catholic church in
social activism, the struggles of homosexuals and bisexuals, the struggle of
unknown artists against the fecklessness and fickleness of art critics reviews, the
roles of workers in Silicon Valley, the defense industry's endangerment of local
and global life, and the beauty of the Bay Area, the ocean and life's natural
wonders. Various portions of Seth's 'novel in verse' both bless and question those
who struggle in their lives to create a worthy contribution to the world as we know
it, with their balance of work and play, intimacy, chastity, love and friendship.
Further, the sadness of disconnection from others, both intentional and
unintentional, is explored, as well as the personal and private alarm one can suffer
over estrangements from those one has loved deeply, either as friend, family or
wife.
63

Seth writes his novel in the omniscient mode. It is as though the reader is
looking through windows into the family relationships and the mental and
emotional attitudes of the individual characters. Aside from Seth himself, there is
no narrator in the book which allows the author to put in excellent descriptions of
objects and the landscape, sometimes in clever phrases such as "wheels [that had]
lost all memory of their shock absorbers." This omniscient point of view also
allows both author and reader to look into the private lives of the characters
without the need for any particular consciousness. For example, the reader learns
about Meenakshi's character not from what she is thinking but rather from her
actions and words. There is no internalizing of Meenakshi's character, but after
discovering her ongoing affair with Billy, the reader hears Meenakshi ask if it is
possible to be truly in love with two men at the same time. One of the most
effective means of character insight in the novel is through the inclusion of cards
and letters. Reading the letters Lata and Haresh write to one another as well as the
letters to and from Kabir, a great deal is learned about how the characters actually
feel. Conversation is very important in the omniscient point of view. One of the
best examples of this in the novel is the slow revelation that Tapan is being
sexually harassed at his boarding school. Seth handles this approach very well.
There is no sense that a third unnamed character is relating the tale. He allows the
reader to feel something like the proverbial fly on the wall, witnessing the
progression of the story.
A Suitable Boy (1993) set in India just after the country gained
independence, it a story of four families over eighteen months, where a mother
searches for a suitable boy to marry her daughter. Through the characters the
novel portrait political, social and religious conflicts which overtook India during
the first year after Independence. It is about a generation Indians who recall the
British Raj and the Partition all too well, and who cherish family ties, caste and
religion because they offer continuity with the past. When asked what it is like to
write a novel, Amit, who seems to represent Seths views in this remarks:
I dont know exactly; this is my first novel, and I am in the process of
fimding out. At the moment it feels like a banyan tree what I mean is it
sprouts, and grows and spreads and drops down branches that become trunks
and intertwine with other branches. Sometimes the main trunk dies, and the
structure is held up by the supporting trunks But then its also like the
Ganges in its upper, middle and lower courses including the delta of course
(1993 1109).
A Suitable Boy is a novel of social milieus as it is showing a clear mirror to
the society of post- independent India in various shades right from family values
across the spectrum containing rituals of marriage, the position of the fairer sex in
64

the society, the impact of the courtesans on the family structures, the necessity of
religious harmony, breakdown of which caused communal disturbance which is
detrimental to the development and the psyche of the society. Vikram Seth has
gone a long way in successfully depicting the society which was still emerging
from the shadows of slavery and partition.
The social environment, social context, socio- cultural context or milieu
refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which
something happens or develops. It includes the culture that the individual was
educated or lives in and the people and institutions with whom they interact. Social
realism is exact replication of social reality in all its details. It is a mode of writing
that observes complete fidelity or pure faithfulness to the observed objective
world. It documents topography, social customs, political happenings, local habits
of life and festivals as well as rituals. It describes characters in all their perceived
appearance and narrates their experiences in a linear logical sequence. It recounts
events exactly as they are constructed as happening along with rational causes and
perceived effects. Social realism is like a moving photograph of a changing world,
a photograph unlike a painting which is made up of subjective impressions. Social
realism cannot escape subjectivity because even the selection of detail is the choice
of an author and reflects the understanding by an individuals subjectivity, but it
strives to remain true to the material substance of a physical world rather than
internal states of mind.
An Equal Music (1999) which revolves around London and Vienna. Here
Seth conceals his Indian identity and writes about alien land. He does not criticize
the country which had once colonized his motherland. It is a story of two music
lovers, celebrates the power of music but also the dangers of looking into the past.
Seth has written an exquisite miniature. It is a first person narrative about the life
of a string quartet and the resurrection of a long dead obsessive love. The narrator,
Michael, is slightly unstable and somewhat disassociated from the day to day. He
sees Julia, his great love from music school, on a passing bus and we're off.
Vikram Seth: Not really. I don't try to do something new each time, it's just
that I don't flee from it if it happens to be new. In this particular case the idea
seized me. It was the opposite of something I would have decided for
myself. I didn't want to write about music. I didn't want to write in the first
person, especially about a character I feel somewhat ambivalent about.
The only way I could write about music in the first place was to talk from
inside his thoughts; otherwise it would just sound like program notes or
something. Having decided that, then I had to talk about everything -- love,
obsession, the other characters -- through Michael rather than through what
65

I'm used to, which is the omniscient or semi-omniscient narrator (Interview


by Jay Currie and Michle Denis).
ASuitable Boy imbricates the family with the national, the personal with the
political. The common denominator in each of these realms is the degradation
that is osmotically seeping into music, marriage morals and politics that is
asthmatically seeping into morals and politics. The novel has none of the sweep,
philosophical grasp or permanent truth- of human nature that underline these epic
narratives in the history of the novel. Seth uses the setting of postcolonial India.
The concerns of language, style, presentation and technique are absent as the novel
consciously emulates the great tradition of the mainstream English novel from
Fielding to Hardy. In fact, as noted academic and critic C.D.
Narasimhaiahcomments, Seth has achieved little in this novel except to display
his infinite patience to observe trivia in upper class Indian society and record it
meticulously to what end; only he can tell (122). The novel bears images of a
gentle India swaying daily through the patterns of a monotonous routine, but the
predominant picture which emerges is of a contained world of Edenic qualities,
where decisions have few consequences beyond one's immediate surroundings,
families care little beyond the tinkle of rich crystal and success and happiness is
measured in terms of one is capacity to marry the right person. The novel may be
known for its Uneventfulness, its surpassing dailiness, the way in which Seth
caught a life sized hu- man, unextraordinary India (637). Seth presented the
picture of India from the outsider's vision, we get that Seth shows lack of
involvement. Indians adopted English as a means to earn a fine living and they are
not ready to give up their Indian sensibility. Amaresh Datta writes of creative
writers, writing in English in India and says:
But one still wonders if English became the language of our dreams, of the
nuance of our social and English can become the language of our dreams, of
the nuance of our social and personal relationship and of elemental passions
oriented in a particular way by our environment and tradition. In any case,
the literature produced by Indian authors in English cannot perhaps avoid
some kind of artificiality whether it centres round non- Indian experience or
India (100).
A Suitable Girl (2013) depicts the action of India from 1950s to the present
day, through the protagonist Lata, as a grandmother. She recalls and tells to her
grandson. Seth described his own internal conflicts: There have been dark
periods, when I've felt hopeless in love, when I haven't been able to see a way out
of a situation. Metaphysical struggles, if you like. At times I was acutely incapable
of doing anything.
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Seths characters, major or minor, are defined not so much through a


description of their consciousness, self expression or view of themselves, but
through their relationship with others and others view of them. The value given to
self expression in the west is something associated with Romanticism. Seths
writing is more akin to the classical spirit of the 18th century Age of Reason and its
emphasis on universal experience and common humanity.

Rohinton Mistry
Mistry belongs to the group of Parsi Indian diaspora in Canada. He was born
in Bombay on July 3, 1952, immigrated to Canada in 1975. In the 70s emigration
was considered the best option for well educated young Indians and armed with his
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Mathematics degree took up a job in a Toronto bank, studying English and


Philosophy pert time. He began writing seriously after winning a University
writing competition.
Mistry has been writing about India since 1975, his writing reflects the
Indian diasporic experience. His work indicates that he belongs to both and neither
of the two cultures, feelings of dislocation and displacement is reflected in his
creation. N. Sahgal points out that the issue of identity assumes greatest
significance when one is deprived of a country. Thus, Mistry represents both India
and Canada. The writer has shifting locations in a globalised world and hence; it is
necessary to understand the complexities of his diasporic experience.
Mistrys fiction deploys a precise writing style and sensitivity to the humour
and horror of life to communicate deep compassion for human beings. His writing
concerns people who try to find self-worth while dealing with painful family
dynamics and difficult social and political constraints. His work also addresses
immigration, especially immigration to Canada, and the difficulty immigrants face
in a society that recognizes their cultural differences and yet cannot embrace those
differences as being part of itself.
Whatever else he is or will be as an author bestseller, Governor Generals
Award winner, Booker Prize nominee let him be known, now and forever, as
having been Oprahed. For some so chosen this might present a problem, but
Rohinton Mistry isnt one of those. Not for him any Jonathan Franzening about
how the embrace of thousands of new readers might in fact is some kind of
middlebrow ambush. It was a delightful experience, very pleasant, Mistry is
saying on a March mid-afternoon, smiling his mild, melancholic smile two months
after he and his 1995 novel A Fine Balance were summoned to Chicago. Oprah
Winfrey is a great host, makes you feel very comfortable, he says. The people I
met, the people who discussed the book on the show, were lovely to meet. It was
all-around lovely. It was a gift, really. What else can I call it?
Parsis are descended from the religious followers of Zoroastrianism who
fled from Iran to avoid forced conversion to Islam. While India offers them a safe
haven, present day Parsis are subject to marginalization. Mistry grew up in this
charged atmosphere in a Parsi area of Bombay. Mistry published his first book, a
collection of short stories called Tales from Firozsha Baag in 1987, released in the
United States two years later with the alternate title Swimming Lessons and other
stories from Firozsha Baag. This work was shortlisted for Canadas Governor
General Award for best fiction. When his second novel, Such A long Journey, was
published in 1991, it won the Governor Generals Award, the commonwealth
writers prize for best book. It was short listed for the Prestigious Booker Prize.
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Mistrys third novel, A Fine Balance (1995), won the annual Giller prize and the
Los Angeles Times book prize for fiction. His fourth novel, Family Matters (2002)
was short listed for the booker Prize
Mistry is an expatriate Indian-Parsi writer who lives in Canada. As a Parsi
and also a immigrant in Canada, he look at him as a symbol of double
displacement and this sense of displacement is a recurrent theme in his literary
works. His historical situation includes development of new identity in the nation
to which he has migrated and a complex relationship with political and cultural
history of the nation he has left behind. Generally Indian Diasporas suffers from a
sense of triple displacement. They lose their native place, they enter into an alien
language and find themselves among people whose culture and codes are different
and sometimes offensive to their own.
Such a Long Journey (1991), Mistry second novel deals with the problems
of India during Indias war with Pakistan after 1970. The protagonist Gustad has
anguish for his family; he feels neglected, alone and misunderstood by his son,
wife and friends. He is greatly affected by government and corruption around and
feels alienated. The Parsis struggle for survival by balancing between community
and national consciousness resulted in identity crisis.
It is based upon real a event which is set in 1971 during the Indira Gandhi
administration. Set during the time of the India-Pakistan war, its protagonist is not
a conventional hero. Gustad Noble is a bank clerk and a family man who belongs
to the Parsi community, a vulnerable figure whose world is haunted by the war
with China in 1962. Mistry strikes the opposition between the values of family and
tradition and the corruption of the outside world. Noble has to experience a
complete upheaval of his life owing to sudden blowing up of politics in his smooth
everyday routine.Gustad belongs to the Parsi community and a devoted family man
struggling to keep his wife Dilnavaz and three children out of poverty. The crisis
and turmoil begins in his family when his eldest son Shorab refuses to join the
prestigious Indian Institute of Technology and his youngest daughter Roshan falls
ill. Gustad later on receives a letter from an old friend Major Billmoria pulls him to
involve in the corruption of large amount of money. Thus the long journey of
Gustad starts by shedding new light on all the aspects of both personal and political
life of him.
Such a Long Journey is a unique attempt novel based on truth in Indian
Fiction in English. The protagonist has the feelings of loss and insecurity with
several chastening experiences. The novel is multi-layered which gives importance
only to social and political details, as Mistry symbolizes on a middle class family
of the Parsi community who lives in Bombay. The political theme of the novel is
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based on the notorious Nagarwala Conspiracy case of 1971. It is a real story that
took place during Indira Gandhis period in which Shorab Nagarwala, the chief
cashier of the Parliament in the State Bank of India followed the highest forces in
the country, found himself behind bar and died later in imprisonment. Supporting
this Amiritjit Singh in Writers of Indian Diaspora states that:Like his short stories,
Mistrys multi layered novel is about power and powerlessness, about the need for
community in which the individuals voice is not muffled. Such A Long Journey is
primarily the story of Gustad Noble, the little man holds on to his dignity, strength,
and humanity in a sweltering tide of disappointment, confusion, betrayal, and
corruption.
In an interview later, Mistry amends that judgment: I answered that a little
flippantly.'
Nevertheless, he says, Given the parameters of my characters lives, given
who they are, how can you expect them to have any more happiness than
they have found? I think that the ending is a hopeful one: The human spark
is not extinguished. They continue to find humor in their lives. This is an
outstanding victory in their case.
What's more, there are thousands and thousands of Ishvars and Oms in
India today, people who keep going relentlessly in spite of the odds, and this
is why I am hopeful.
A Fine Balance (1996) is a tale of suffering of those innocent and the
outcaste who made attempts to survive during the period of Emergency in India in
1975. Mistry brings the four characters together to maintain a fine balance between
hope and despair.
The time is 1975; the place is India, in an unnamed city by the sea. The
corrupt and brutal government has just declared a State of Emergency, and the
country is on the edge of chaos. In these precarious circumstances, four characters
form an unlikely alliance: two tailors, uncle and nephew, who have come to the
city in flight from the cruel caste violence in their native village; a middle-aged
widow desperately trying to preserve her fragile independence; and a young
student from the northern mountains, bewildered by the end of his idyllic
childhood and his parents' slow collapse. Through the dramatic and often shocking
turns their lives take, we get an intimate view not only of their world but of India
itself, in all its extraordinary variety. Rohinton Mistry creates unforgettable
characters and vast social panoramas on the scale of Dickens and Victor Hugo, and
he shares, as well, their remarkable generosity of spirit.
It consists lot of paradoxical situations, which move the reader to deep pity
and even draw tears from ones eyes. However, with the help of an alternate reality
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the writer seems to make his best efforts to balance the critical life of each of his
characters. Mistry confronts, interrogates and challenges the authoritative voice of
history. The main symbolic significance of the novel is that life is a struggle in
which a courageous individual may win a moral victory against the difficulties and
problems of existence. The novel upholds the integrity, dignity, and invincibility of
the human mind. The superficial study of the novel makes it difficult to find out
nostalgia, but the in depth reading confirms a fine balance between memory and
desire, myth and reality, internal and external reality. The novel, in fact, highlights
a crisis of balance where one character is identical with another in his/her struggle
and capacity to survive. They retain a collective memory, vision, or myth of their
marginalized group its traumas, sufferings, and struggles and collectively share the
efforts of balancing their lives in their different specific ways. The narrative
depicts reality of the multi-ethnic groups in the society and their misfortunes and
hardships seem exaggeration for those who do not have sensitivity to feel their pain
and agony:
Even the criticism of society must be carried out within society. Even
planning of society must be carried out within society. Even the description
of society must be carried out within society. And all this occurs as the
criticism of a society which criticizes itself, as the planning of society which
plans itself and always reacts to what happens, and as the description of a
society which describes itself (Luhman 17).
Family Matters (2002) third novel by Mistry expressing the oppressive
situation of India and Maharashtra including the major concerns in the 1990s, the
era of the post-Babri Masjid riots, corruption and communalism. It depicts the
efforts to survive for better future by three different families. The characters
developing a sense of belonging as home but they had a feeling of
unbelonging/never felt at home as there was lack of proper emotional
communication and attachment within the family.
Family Matters is set in Bombay. As a book in which hope and human
endurance keep the characters buoying along, it also picks up some of its
forerunners preoccupations. But for Mistry at least, the connections are negligible.
I wanted to do something completely different here, he says. The word family
might suggest there is a carry-over, because the poor in A Fine Balance did indeed
come together to constitute their own family, which sustained them for a while.
But I think its a different world, an entirely different world here.
For one thing, the novel is set in the mid-1990s, and while the world through which
the characters pass is rich enough, the background isnt as naturally dramatic as it
was with A Fine Balances depiction of the emergency. And if in the previous
novel Mistry took up with poor, dispossessed characters through whom he could
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explore, in his phrase, history from the bottom up, in the new one he settles in
with 79-year-old Nariman Vakeel, a former professor of English slowed
increasingly by age and the onset of Parkinsons. Fot the first part of the novel, he
lives with two of his adult stepchildren, Jal and Coomy, in an apartment building
called Chateau Felicity. Of course its neither a chateau nor particularly felicitous,
least of all for Nariman.
Mistry weaves the lives and memories of one Parsi family into a novel of
humanistic dignity, as individuals kick against decay; the decay of flesh into death,
the decay of family into death, the decay of surrounding morality, and the decay
around and head of us in time. It is written in a flawless style with a well -knit plot,
the novel has all the richness, the compassion, the gentle humour, and the narrative
sweep that have earned Mistry the highest of accolades and prizes around the
world. He is succeeded in maintaining a fine balance between scepticism and
affirmation, faith and bigotry, family nurture and control, and once again given
something absolutely painfully pleasurable, a bitter sweet rendition of life in its
most ordinary intimate setting. The titles obvious double entendre speaks not only
of the duties and responsibilities, the matter of a familys workings, but also of
how many family matters to us.
In diasporic writing the overwhelming question that thoroughly occurs is
where does one belong? The answer to this question seems to get expression in the
previous three works of Mistry, but as time passes it no longer remains important
as to where does one belong but how does one belong (Birbal Singh 10). Family
Matters seems to complete a cycle of belongingness of a diasporic writer who is
historically double- displaced. Jasbir Jain finds the similarity between Rohinton
Mistrys Family Matters. The protagonists of the novel have crossed seventy, are
widowers and grandfather, deeply appreciative of literature and have to move in
with their daughters when they can no longer live by themselves. Both are novels
of memory, of moving into the past, both are novels of adjustment with the
changed circumstances and finally the novel of belonging as Nariman lean to
belong to their families and the families gradually open out their hearts to them. It
is not a matter of sheer coincidence that two sensitive writer have turned to a
similar concern at the same time. The loneliness, the shift, the process of
adjustment and later of acceptance all become a microcosm of the nation as the
individual struggles for a place in it (Birbal Singh 10 -11).
Mistrys writing raises ethical questions which, while played out through the
characters, are left to the reader to resolve. In one sense all narrative does this.
However, the recurring trope of the instinctive desire for communication stymied
by a divisive and authoritarian political hierarchy, common to Mistrys novels,
give such questions an urgent insistence. Perhaps Paul Ricoeur, quoted by Richard
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Kearney indirectly provides one of the most recognisable accounts of the


experience of reading a Mistry novel. He claims that the strategy of persuasion
undertaken by the narrator of any given novel:
is aimed at giving the reader a vision of the world that is never ethically
neutral, but rather implicitly or explicitly induces a new evaluation of the
world and of the reader as well. In this sense, narrative already belongs to
the ethical field in virtue of its claim inseparable from its narration to
ethical justice. Still, it belongs to the reader, now an agent, an initiator of
action, to choose among the multiple proposals of ethical justice brought
forth by the reading (Ricoeur quoted in Kearney).
Ultimately, Mistrys fiction offers the satisfactions of recognition to those
familiar with the machinations of postcolonial Indian politics and the position of
the Parsis as a vulnerable minority, and to general readers who may know little
about the background, but who can identify with the characters, their experiences
and life choices. Speaking of this quality in his work, Mistry has commented, The
Parsi characters in my stories, and their dreams, ambitions and fears are as
accessible to the western reader as to the Indian reader I dont say to myself:
This story needs three doses of universality and five doses of particularity. When
I start writing it all just happens (interview Hancock). This blend of universality
and cultural and contextual specificity gives Mistrys texts their readability and
seems likely to ensure their longevity too. Of his own reasons for continuing to
write, Mistry is disarmingly candid: I once read, I think it was by Camus, that one
can redeem oneself by writing and that has stayed with me and I think that is why I
began to write. I wasnt sure how redemption would come through writing, but Im
still writing (talks to Robert McLay).

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor was born on March 9, 1956 in London. His father, Chandran
Tharoor was a newspaper executive and mother Lily was a homemaker. His
ancestral roots can be traced back to Palakkad in Kerala, India. Tharoor studied at
Montfort School in Yercaud and then at Campion School in Mumbai. He
completed his honors degree in History from the prestigious St. Stephen's College,
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Delhi and won a scholarship to Tufts University, Boston. In the mid 1970's, Shashi
went to the United States and acquired two master's degrees and a Ph.D. in
Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Having completed his Ph. D. in the age of 22, he went on to add laurels to his name
by his contributions in the UN. Apart from studies, he was active in other
activities, which helped in overall development of his personality. Interested in
acting, Tharoor has acted in various plays in his school and college days. In mid
1970's he founded Quiz Club in St. Stephen's College, which still exists. In his
college days, he was elected as the President of the college union and throughout
his career he worked hard for human rights. It is remarkable that despite of staying
abroad for a long time, Tharoor remains strongly attached to his Indian roots.
Tharoor is also the award -winning author of fourteen books, as well as
hundreds of articles, op-eds and book reviews in a wide range of publications,
including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the
International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek and The Times of India. He has
served for two years as a Contributing Editor and occasional columnist for
Newsweek International. In 2010 he began a fortnightly column in The Asian
Age/Deccan Chronicle and in 2012 in Mail Today; he also writes an internationally
-syndicated monthly column for Project Syndicate. He has authored regular
columns for the Indian Express (1991 -93and1996-2001), The Hindu (2001-2008)
and The Times of India (2007-2009).
His eight non-fiction books are: Reasons of State (1981), a study of Indian
foreign - policy making; India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), which
was cited by President Clinton in his address to the Indian Parliament; Kerala:
Gods Own Country (2002), with text by Shashi Tharoor and paintings by the
renowned M.F. Husain; Nehru: The Invention of India (2003), a biography of
India s first Prime Minister; a collection of literary essays, Bookless in Baghdad
(2005); an essay collection about contemporary India, The Elephant, the Tiger and
the Cellphone: Reflections on India in the 21st Century (2007); a survey of India
- Pakistan cricket, co - authored with Shaharyar Khan, Shadows Across the Playing
Field (2009); and most recently Pax Indica: India &the World of the 21st Century
(2012), a study of Indias foreign relations and global strategy. His three novels are
the classic The Great Indian Novel (1989) which is required reading in several
courses on post - colonial literature; Riot (2001), a searing examination of Hindu -
Muslim violence in contemporary India; and Show Business (1992) which received
a front - page accolade in the New York Times Book Review and has since been
made into a motion picture, Bollywood. He has also authored a collection of short
stories, The Five-Dollar Smile (1990) and the text of a coffee - table book with the
photographer Ferrante Ferranti, India (2008). Tharoors books have been translated
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into French, German, Italian, Malayalam, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian and
Spanish.
Indians are proud of two things: the great epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana
and the freedom movement. And Shashi Tharoor has done a brilliant job by mixing
these two together in his one-of-a-kind novel, The Great Indian Novel. Along with
this, he references various other famous works on India such as E. M Forester,
Rudyard Kipling and Paul Scott. He takes the story of the Mahabharata and blends
it with India history, going back three generations.
The Great Indian Novel (1989) aims at presenting the contemporary political
reality in terms of myths and legends of Indias remote past. It is about the
betrayed expectations. The narrators in Tharoors novel says that, history
indeed the world, the universe, all human life and so too every institution under
which we live is in constant state of evolution (245). The novel ends on a note of
uncertainity with the narrator waking up from dream to an India best wiiith
uncertainties, muddling chaotically to the twenty first century (418). The novelist
claimed to have presented in his novel an India of multiple realities and the
multiplicity of truth (1960 67). The novel suggests that by accepting diversity
alone Indian can escape from the mistakes of past.
The Mahabharata is an epic tale describing the historical dynastic struggle
over the throne of the kingdom of Hastinapur between the Pandavas and the
Kauravas, two branches of the heirs of the king Shantanu. In this novel, Tharoor
recasts the story of the nascent Indian democracy as a struggle between groups and
individuals closely related by their personal and political histories. Through his
cantankerous narrator, Tharoor takes an irreverent tone towards figures such as
Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who are ordinarily treated with reverence
by Indians.
Tharoors The Great Indian Novel challenges this official or imperalist
version of history and attempts to foreground alternative indigenous historical
versions of reality in its fictional mode. He openly criticizes imperial
historiography and its projection of India as a nation without history and
development. In the very beginning of the novel, the narrator makes his subversive
aesthetics prominent when he pronounces:
They tell me India is an underdeveloped country. They attend seminars,
appear on television, and even come to see me, creasing their eight hundred
rupee suits and clutching their moulded plastic briefcases, to announce in
tones of infinite understanding that India has yet to develop. Stuff and
nonsense, of course...I tell them they have no knowledge of history and even
less of their own heritage. I tell them that if they would only read the
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Mahabharata and the Ramayana, study the Golden Ages of the Mauryas and
the Guptas and even of those Muslim chaps the Mughals, they would realize
that India is not an underdeveloped country but a highly developed one in an
advanced state of decay. (18)
Tharoor mythologizes political history of postcolonial India and creates a
fictional narrative in which the stories of ancient and modern India straddle each
other and work together to reclaim a holistic image of Indias cultural heritage. As
Ved Vyas, the narrator of the novel states that this novel is a story of past present
and future, of existence and passing, of efflorescence and decay of death and
rebirth; of what is and what was, of what should have been (18). Tharoor, by
using the Mahabharatas mythical narrative to frame his story of postcolonial
modern India, participates in the typical Indian tradition. The use of the myth in
postcolonial literary text is designed and directed to bring into consideration the
glory and significance of colonized nations indigenous cultural, historical and
religious heritage which has been decomposed or forgotten due to the imposed
colonial ideologies. The study of myths has been interpreted as the strategy of
liberation and revival of the cultural heritage for the assertion of identity and self in
postcolonial writings.
The writer always speaks through a character in his novels, but he never uses
the first person narrative voice. In The Great Indian Novel, the author speaks
through Ved Vyasa, who remains almost as a spectator or commentator. The
Zigzag narrative, constantly shifting from the present to the past, from reality to
illusion, discovers and defines, enlarges and evaluates the central theme of the
novel. The novelist proves himself successful in merging the earlier themes of
public issues like the achievement of political freedom and more recent phase of
writing where the problem of what is means to be an authentic human being.
Tharoor's early stories some of which he wrote as a teenager for Indian
mass-circulation periodicals and a two-act play have been published in The FiveDollar Smile. The stories, which treat such issues as racism The Boutique,
hypocrisy The Temple Thief, and gender stereotyping City Girl, Village Girl,
show signs of the language skills which Tharoor exploits to such great effect in
The Great Indian Novel.
In Show Business, his second novel, Tharoor casts his satirical eye over
Bollywood, India's popular, Bombay-based cinema industry. The novel closely
follows the career of Ashok Banjara, an Indian film hero his rise to fame, his
marriage to an up-and-coming young heroine, his many affairs, his vast wealth, his
flirtation with politics, and so on. Interspersed with Ashok Banjara's own story and
ultimately indistinguishable from it are the plots of the various films in which he
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stars. The novel is at once a comic tale about the Indian film industry, a homily on
greed and ambition, and a highly entertaining look at the boundaries between
fiction and reality.It is a pungent satire on the Bombay film industry, which came
out in 1992. The book was subsequently adapted into a motion picture called
Bollywood. The narrative follows the career of a famous film-star Ashok Banjara,
from the period when the struggling actor tried to find a foothold in the film world
to the time when he fought for survival after a fatal accident in a shooting zone.
The character of Banjara is modeled on Amitabh Bachchan whose life closely
parallels that of the fictional hero. As a backdrop to Banajaras rise to the acme of
Bombays commercial cinema is a non-stop carousel of the major blockbusters he
has acted in-a never ending fantasy that took over his life completely and
transformed it into an astonishing, though compelling, lie. Tharoor uses film,
which he considers to be an important medium for transmitting fictional experience
to the Indian masses, as a creative metaphor to explore the contemporary myths
which are invented by the popular Hindi cinema and, through them, certain aspects
of Indian life. Though a montage film narrative, shooting scripts, songs and
monologues, he invents a fictional world that becomes an expressive metaphor for
deeper truths: illusion and reality, ambition and greed, love, deception and death.
Show Business is a rollicking novel about the razzle dazzle of Hindi movie
industry known as Bollywood. The book is the evidence & raises Thraroors
reputation as one of Indias most important voices & a writer of world status. Here,
Tharoor portrays the world of Bollywood with glimpses of Hollywood like
glamour, egos & double standards. Tharoor has nicely combined the different
aspects of film industry with reality like power of privilege, seduction, betrayal,
politics & intrigues that makes the whole story colorful, entertaining & deadly
serious. New York Times reviews on the book as, Exuberant and clever ...... both
affectionately and fiercely done.
Riot - A love story published in 2001 is a powerful novel set in & around a
riot in India in 1989 about love hate, cultural collision, religious fanaticism, and
the ownership of history and the impossibility of knowing the truth. It is the
question and mystery who killed Priscilla Hart having the age of twenty four. She
was a highly motivated, idealistic American student who had come to India as a
volunteer in womens health programme. Like Tharoors novels, thus novel is
experimenting masterfully with narrative form, he chronicles the mystery of
Priscilla Harts death through the often contradictory accounts of a dozen or more
characters, all of whom relate their own versions of event surrounding her killing.
A vibrant work of fiction about the communal flare up in northern India in
the wake of Ram Janambhumi movement by Hindu extremists in late 1980s and
early 1990s, the book takes on a wide range of topics. On one level, Tharoor
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examines the reasons of communal tension between Hindus and Muslims through
the postmortem of a fictional riot. He engages with this palpable tension with much
insight, offering in the process a balanced critique of both Hindu cultural
nationalism and Muslim fundamentalism, and a convincing account of the role of
the administration in controlling riots. On another level, the book is concerned with
unraveling the mystery that surrounds the murder of an idealistic American student
and welfare worker, Priscilla Hart, who comes to India to volunteer in a womens
health programme, during the riot. The novel, highly praised for its brilliant
experimentation with narrative form, chronicles the unresolved mystery of Priscilla
Harts death through the mutually contradictory accounts of a group of characters
who narrate their individual versions of the events which led to the tragedy.
Intellectually challenging and emotionally engrossing, Riot is a fictional tour
deforce about the ownership of history, about love, hate, cultural collision,
religious fanaticism, and the impossibility of knowing the truth.
Tharoor proves the point that the dynamics of Indian society are constantly
changing and new identities are created through a healthy optimism. Ethnicity and
language may complicate the question of identity and the identity of an Indian may
span from one set of identities and cross into another. But secularism and multiple
identities will set the boundaries far and negotiable.

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta on 11 July 1956 and raised and educated
in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom. Although a
Ph.D. in social anthropology, Ghosh followed his passion for writing by taking up
a job in a print media company. His first job was for a local tabloid called the
Indian Express. In 1986, he published his first book The Circle of Reason. Over the
years, Ghosh wrote several books such as The Shadow Lines (1988), In an Antique
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Land, (1992), The Calcutta Chromosome (1995), Dancing in Cambodia (1998),


Countdown (1999), The Glass Palace (2000), The Imam and the Indian (2002),
The Hungry Tide (2005), Sea Of Poppies(2008), and River of Smoke (2011) that
won him great adulation. His books not only earned him the distinction of writer
par excellence, but also won him great laurels for his unconventional themes. His
books are loaded with indo-nostalgic rudiments accompanied with an interesting
mix of his personal philosophy and strong post-colonialism themes.
Amitav Ghosh has received several awards and recognition for his excellent
contribution in the domain of literature and writing. Some of the awards he has
won are Prix Medicis Etranger, France's top literary award, for the book The Circle
of Reason, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar for 'The Shadow
Lines', Arthur C. Clarke Award for 'The Calcutta Chromosome', Frankfurt
International e-Book Award for The Glass Palace and Crossword Book Prize for
The Hungry Tide. Apart from these, he has also received other noted distinctions
like Grinzane Cavour Award in Italy and the Padma Shri by the Indian
government. His book Sea of Poppies received the Crossword Book Award in
2009 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Because of his distinguished
contributions towards literature and his expertise towards teaching, Ghosh was
granted fellowship in Royal Society of Literature and at the Centre for Studies in
Social Sciences, Calcutta. He also received Dan David Prize for his innovative
interdisciplinary research across traditional bounds and prototypes.
Ghosh is one among the postmodernists. He is immensely influenced by the
political and cultural milieu of post independent India. Being a social
anthropologist and having the opportunity of visiting alien lands, he comments on
the present scenario the world is passing through in his novels. Cultural
fragmentation, colonial and neo-colonial power structures, cultural degeneration,
the materialistic offshoots of modern civilization, dying of human
relationships,blending of facts and fantasy, search for love and security, diasporas,
etc are the major preoccupations in the writings.
Ghosh has been credited for successfully mastering the genre known as
magical realism which was largely developed in India by Salman Rushdie and in
South America by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ghosh is seen as belonging to this
international school of writing which successfully deals with the post-colonial
ethos of the modern world without sacrificing the ancient histories of separate
lands. (Anita Desai, 1986:149) Like Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh perfectly
blends fact and fiction with magical realism. He reconceptualizes society and
history. He is so scientific in the collection of material, semiotical in the
organization of material, so creative in the formation of fictionalized history
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The Circle of Reason (1986) tells the story of the orphan Alu, adopted by his
elderly uncle, a teacher in a small Indian village. Balaram Bose had been a brilliant
student, but his obsession with rationalism has declined into a fanatical study of
phrenology. After measuring Alus lumpy head, he has him apprenticed as a
weaver, where he soon surpasses even his master.
Unfortunately, Balaram also is involved in a local feud, which ultimately
results in the bombing of his home. Alu, the only survivor and a suspect in the
bombing, flees, closely followed by a young Indian policeman, Jyoti Das. Taking
ship across the Arabian Sea, Alu arrives at the small, oil-rich state of al-Ghazira,
where he moves into the home of Zindi, an enormously fat madam. After a near
fatal accident, he has a vision worthy of his uncle--the people of the Indian quarter
will wage war on germs and money. This bizarre social experiment almost
succeeds, until the local government brutally ends it. Alu flees again with Zindi
and other friends, still closely pursued by Das. Finally, after wandering over much
of North Africa, they accidentally meet in a small Saharan village, concluding with
a sad denouement which determines their future.
A mere plot summary hardly does justice to this dense novel, loaded as it is
with plots, subplots, dozens of nationalities, and the complicated intellectual
rationale for Alu and Balarams theories. American readers may find this heavy
going, but close reading will yield definite rewards. Ghosh has undeniable talent,
particularly in that peculiar synthesis of the intellectual, the comic, and the
ridiculous which is so intrinsic to life in India, but he would be well-advised to
prune his cast and plot in future works. Still, this is an amusing and provoking look
at the real India, for those with the time and interest.
Ghosh is obviously a novelist given to generic inventiveness and he has been
taken by some critics to be a champion of post-modern cultural weightlessness, but
his writing is as interested in the ties that bind as in the transitory nature of global
culture. The most impressive of Ghosh's novels remains his second book, The
Shadow Lines (1988), which deals with relations between the different arms of a
prospering bhadralok family, the DattaChaudhuris, displaced from Dhaka to
Calcutta by the Partition. At the centre of the novel is the figure of Tridib who
teaches the nameless narrator that all communities, indeed all identities, are
imagined or narrated: `Everyone lives in a story ... they all lived in stories, because
stories are all there are to live in, it was just a question of which story.'
Nevertheless, it would be misleading to suggest that Ghosh's novel is uninterested
in the particularities of specific cultural locations. If the nation is a fiction, whose
boundaries are capable of being reimagined and redrawn, it nevertheless remains a
powerful determining presence, as too are the histories of colonialism and racism
which haunt the relationships between the Datta-Chaudhuris and the Prices,
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English friends-of-the-family across two generations. The Shadow Lines is a novel


filled with the specificities of names, dates, and places, a novel in love with some
kinds of cultural difference even while it seeks to imagine a way beyond others.
Moreover it shows that different narratives of the self and the nation can collide
with devastating effects. Part of its brilliant sense of the complications of cultural
identity is its perception that even where cultural difference is radically asserted,
when Tridib is killed in a communal riot while visiting his family's old home in
Dhaka, it can be shadowed by lines of connection. The riot has been started by the
theft of the prophet's hair in Kashmir, in a city thousands of miles away, in a
country from which Dhaka is now partitioned, with the two countries, India and
East Pakistan (as it was at the time of the riot) `locked into an irreversible
symmetry by the line that was to set us free-our looking-glass border'. This last
metaphor, the figure of the mirror, runs throughout the novel as the sign of those
relations which paradoxically connect nations and individuals even as they divide
them.
In some respects, The Shadow Lines can be thought of as a historical novel.
Like Midnight's Children, it is interested in recuperating histories squeezed out of
the state's homogenising myth of the nation. The riot which kills Tridib in Ghosh's
novel has fallen from the pages of history, unrecorded in Calcutta newspapers,
Ghosh suggests, because the state and public institutions regard war alone as a
`properly' historical conflict. A series of young novelists has followed Ghosh in
trying their hands, with varying degrees of success, at writing historical narratives
that display a revisionary scepticism about narrow definitions of the nation. But
where The Shadow Lines adapts the family romance to this purpose, these writers
have more often resorted to a hyperbolic epic mode. Among them is I. Allan Sealy
(b. 1951), another Stephanian who turned from writing a doctoral thesis in Canada
on Wilson Harris to produce The Trotter-Nama (1988). Sealy has since written
several more books: Hero (1991); From Yukon to Yucatan (1994), a travelogue in
which he returns to North America and turns the western gaze back on itself; and
The Everest Hotel (1998). But his most striking achievement remains his epic
chronicle of a family of Anglo-Indians, a community whose presence troubles the
imagining of the nation in terms of the expression of some homogeneous cultural
authenticity, an idea which the novel suggests is derived from a colonial mentality.
As with Saleem in Rushdie's Midnight's Children, the reader is always aware of the
struggle of Eugene, the narrator, to include everything in his family chronicle.
Indeed Eugene explicitly contrasts his inclusive narrative method, the method of
the 'nama' or chronicle, with that of European historiography:
This foul substance is called what?
The foul substance is called History. And its opposite?
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Is the Chronicle
Which may be illustrated? Profusely.
Is colourful?
In the extreme ...
For Amitav Ghosh, language in the process of the production of art attains
the status of diasporic representation voicing him and thousands of other uprooted
individuals. Language embodies the attempt to create family that has broken and
dispersed in the mire of confused identity. Ghosh acknowledges it in The Shadow
lines:
You see, in our family we dont know whether were coming or going its
all my grandmothers fault. But of course, the fault was nt hers at all: it lay
in the language. Every language assumes a centrality, a fixed and settled
point to go away from and come back to, and what my grandmother was
looking for was a word for a journey which was not a coming or a going at
all; a journey that was a search for precisely that fixed point which permits
the proper use of verbs of movement (153).
This is a language that Ghosh believes in and this kind of language he tries to
create in his work.
Postmodernists reject elaborate formal aesthetics in favour of minimalist designs.
Amitav Ghosh does not give any significance for picturesque description and
ornamental use of language. Tabish khair comments on this as
Ghosh is very careful in his use of English and vernacular transcriptions. He
develops a conscious and rich tradition in Indian English fiction, a tradition
that includes R.K. Narayan and Shashi Deshpande. The attempt is not to
stage Indian Englishes. Ghosh avoids the aestheticisation of language (108).
He has been noted for its mercurial defiance of generic classification.
Reviews and critical commentaries variously praise or condemn the book as a
traveler's tale, an (auto)ethnography, an alternative history, a polemic against
modernization, the personal record of an anthropologist's research, and, perhaps
less obviously, a novel. Inasmuch as the book is generically conflicted, it is
likewise ideologically conflicted, formally embodying many of the very
diremptions and modern disconnections that it ostensibly confronts. Anxieties over
nationalism, cultural difference, modernization, historiography, and Third World
subalternity not only act as the passive objects of Ghosh's narrative but also
insinuate themselves into the very style, structure, and linguistic sensibility of the
book in a manner that Bakhtin would recognize as "novelistic." Thus, I want to
suggest that the alternative history or traveler's account that Ghosh's character
believes himself to be narratinga "History in the guise of a traveler's tale" reads
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the flyleafis in fact a novel in the Bakhtinian sense, in which the contradictions
and internal conflicts of Ghosh's agenda, that of recovering a postcolonial
historical sensibility and mapping out a new nationalist paradigm within a
modernizing world, reveal themselves and, on occasion, counterpose (or dialogize)
the very logic of that project.
In an Antique Land is constructed upon a dichotomy between a somewhat
idyllic medieval Middle Eastre-constructed through fragments of an ancient
archive, the Geniza, now stored at Cambridge and a handful of other western
institutionsand the contemporary Middle East, which Ghosh encounters
firsthand while conducting his doctoral research in Egypt. These two worlds are
manifest in the alternating adjacent narratives of the book. The primary narrative
the bulk of the textconcerns Ghosh's conversations with those whom he
befriends in Egypt as well as his polemical observations about nationalism,
religion, and modernity in the Middle East. The secondary narrative is intimately
tied to the first through several thematic and geographic parallels. Thus, when
Ghosh discovers that Nabeel and Isma'il have left home to pursue their dreams of
material possession in Nashawy, the narrative immediately shifts to Ghosh's
imaginative reconstruction of the lives of Ben Yiju and his slave, Bomma, in
Nashawy. Similarly, Ghosh's arrival in Mangalore is prefaced by a briefly detailed
history of the city leading up to the era of Ben Yiju.
There emerges, then, an interesting if problematic dialectic between the two
epochs and their narrative reconstructions. Ghosh appears to filter his experience
of the contemporary Middle East through its idealized antecedent in such a way
that the two inform one another. Hence, the very structure and content of the Ben
Yiju narrative are anchored in and primarily dependent upon Ghosh's travels and
chance encounters in the contemporary narrative. More importantly, however, the
medieval narrative serves as a place of refuge for the embattled narrator when the
contemporary Middle East refuses to cooperate with his anthropologist's
expectations and he finds himself on the wrong end of the authoritative gaze. Gauri
Viswanathan suggests that "the frustration of being unable to explain either himself
or his culture causes the narrator to veer off" into the project of Bomma and Ben
Yiju (2021). For example, despite his wish to leave Lataifa for Cairo, Ghosh
realizes that he cannot seek help from his new friend, Shaikh Musa, because to do
so would offend the honor of Abu-'Ali, a notorious opportunist with whose family
Ghosh is living at the time
In an Antique Land provides a comparative study of the two oldest cultural
civilizations of the world, that of India and Egypt. Ghosh's interaction with several
languages and cultures spread over three continents and across various countries is
powerfully reflected in this work. It has explored some basic traits of human
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character and some fundamental human feelings and attitudes that persist through
the ages despite socio-political upheavals and geographical changes. Enriched by
exuberant details, it is a peculiar mixture of memory and real life, history and
imagination. In fact Ghosh loves to take up technical challenges and stylistic
innovations in his writings.
Calcutta Chromosome is, simply put, a sci-fi book. It is about a mans quest
for finding the truth the truth behind the cause of malaria and the research that
went behind it. The book starts with a man, Antar, working on his super smart
computer, Ava, and finding an ID card on screen which belonged to a person he
knew. The ID brings back memories and Antars curiosity leads him to the
persons file and Antar realizes that the person, Murugan, has been missing since
many years. Antar recalls that Murugan had been obsessed with malaria and its
cause and the scientist who found the cause, Ronald Ross. Murugans theory is that
Ross did not find the cause on his own, but was guided to the right path by certain
forces around him. Murugans quest brings him to Calcutta, the place where Ross
made his dicover from where he goes missing.
The story switches places and periods to tell us stories that have are
connected to Murugans story. We go back to that period when Ross was doing the
research and even before that when Cunningham was attempting the same thing.
There are a lot of characters and the story moves back and forth and sometimes
there is a story within a story and another within it and it got confusing for me.
The main plot is very interesting to suggest that someone wanted Ross to
identify the cause of malaria in order to hide some other bigger secret. Ghosh adds
a touch of Hindu background to the sci-fi story by bringing in a character who is
seen as God woman and adding incidents of puja and shrine and festivals and
reincarnations. He even gives a glimpse of a ghost trains appearing out of
nowhere and tracks being changed automatically. I thought this part was silly.
In the end, all the characters in the book are involved in the story somehow
and we have this long chain of events happening over centuries and the characters
spread across places and periods and we dont know what the heck is happening.
The worst part is the book ended so abruptly that I wanted to kick the author. Its
good to end the book on suspense and let the reader interpret the ending in his own
way, but what Ghosh did with this book was more like mocking the reader.
Ghosh writes about a vanished era. He is interested in past. Yet he is a
modern writer because modernity is not about the surface details of a story. It
hardly matters into which period the actual fable is cast. What matters is the
manner, depth and quality of the author's response. This is exactly what makes
Ghosh relevant to us. I see this novel as a statement on the necessary isolation of
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an individual and the role of introspection and silence in it. We are social beingstrue! But we are equally individual beings. The separation of the individual's
entity is essential for any creative or genuine work or for life, for that matter. At
the heart of existence lie a still point, silence and isolation. And this need not be
taken in post-modern sense of alienation, communication-lessness or absurdism.
No, not at all. It is what the psychologists call the individuation process where a
human being realizes that she/he is separate from others. It is only after this
realization that the merger into the whole, the next stage comes.
Amitav Ghoshs novel, The Glass Palace, depicts the time from the late
nineteenth to the end of twentieth century and thus covers a long period of
colonialism in India, Burma and Malaya, countries that the British exploited
economically and where they practiced cultural imperialism whilst frequently
mistreating the indigenous workers. However, the power abuse by the British is
soon taken up by the South East Asian peoples whom they govern and is then
applied by them to their neighbours: In this way, colonial relations are established
in Burma between the Indians and the Burmese, the rich Indians ruling over the
Burmese and killing many of them. The Indian people adopt the model of power
exercise the British use over them, thus demonstrating their alleged superiority
over the Burmese by imitation. The ethnic conflict between Burmese and Indians is
here one between ranked groups.
This complex story weaves historical facts with a family saga spanning three
generations, and examines the political and social issues of Burma, Malaya, and
India during a tumultuous century.
The fourth novel by Amitav Ghosh opens on the eve of war in Mandalay, as
the British prepare to capture the Burmese throne. An eleven-year-old Indian
orphan named Rajkumar informs a crowd at a food stall that the booming sound
they hear is a British cannon. The year is 1885, and a dispute between a British
timber company and King Thebaw of Burma leads to battle. The Burmese army,
defeated after only fourteen days by a force of ten thousand British and Indian
soldiers, surrenders without informing the king.
Historically, the novel offers an intriguing glimpse into the minds of the
royal family. King Thebaw, portrayed as a compassionate ruler though somewhat
lacking as a military leader, owes much of his success to his wife, Queen
Supayalat. It was the queen who arranged the execution of anyone in line for the
throne, and after seventy-nine princes of various ages were killed, it appeared that
the Konbuang dynasty would rule unchallenged, an assumption proved false by the
British a mere seven years after Thebaw became king. The Glass Palace of the

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royal family ransacked, the humiliated King Thebaw and his family are escorted to
a ship and ultimately sent to India.
During the looting of the royal palace, Rajkumar meets Dolly, one of the
queens handmaidens. He sees her standing to the side as the queen tries
unsuccessfully to save various royal treasures. Rajkumar presents Dolly with a
jeweled box, learns her name, and falls in love. He watches Dolly leave with the
royal family the next day, a loyal servant following them into exile. Twenty years
will pass before he sees her again.
Rajkumar is no stranger to hardship. His Indian parents moved to Burma
after a family quarrel and lived in the village of Akyab until a fever killed his
father and siblings. His mother attempted to flee the sickness and left with
Rajkumar on a sampan up the Irrawaddy River. She succumbed to the fever during
their journey. Left alone, Rajkumar finds work at a food stall in the market of
Mandalay. It is through Ma Cho, the woman for whom he works, that Rajkunar
meets Saya John.
A contractor for the Burmese teak camps, John Martins (called Saya John)
becomes a teacher and mentor to young Rajkumar. It is in the teak camps that
Rajkumar learns to work with timber and through timber that he ultimately finds
wealth and success. Although he speaks many languages, Rajkumar is almost
illiteratehis accomplishments result from hard work and taking risks. As an
orphan, he is driven to maintain contact with those people who matter to him; thus,
Saya John becomes his business partner, and after he makes his fortune he seeks
Dolly.
While Rajkumar is making his fortune, the Burmese royal family is slowly
losing theirs. Exiled by the British, the royal family moves to India, first to
Madras, then to Ratnagiri. They live in Outram House, a shabby bungalow inside a
walled garden above the town. Mildewed walls, flaking plasterit is a residence
far removed from the glittering palace they left behind. It haunts the king that his
reign ended the golden age of Burma. Throughout his exile he does not quite seem
to grasp that the British will not let him return to Burma, that they will do
everything in their power to make the world forget him. Because the queen has
killed off any other potential claimants to the throne, if the British keep the king
exiled, the opportunity for revolt is minimized.
The queen wears their poverty as a badge of honor; she is anxious for others
to see how the British have treated them. Yes, we who ruled the richest land in
Asia are now reduced to this. . . . In our golden Burma, where no one ever went
hungry and no one was too poor to write and read, all that will remain is destitution
and ignorance, famine and despair. She is not too far from the truth; Rajkumar
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had noted while beginning his work for Saya John, Courtly Mandalay was now a
bustling commercial hub; resources were being exploited with an energy and
efficiency hitherto undreamt of.
As one of the few remaining servants of the royal family, Dolly takes on
greater responsibilities in Outram House. Through her service to the queen she
meets Uma Dey, the wife of Collector Dey of Ratnagiri. The collector is an Indian
holding a British post, and dealing with the Burmese queen he asks himself, But
what could they possibly know of love, of any of the finer sentiments, these
bloodthirsty aristocrats, these semi-illiterates who had never read a book in all their
lives, never looked with pleasure upon a painting?
In The Hungry Tide, the theme of immigration, voluntary or forced, along
with its bitter /sweet experiences, runs through the core incidents of the novel the
ruthless oppression and massacre of East Pakistani refugees who had run away
from the Dandakaranya refugee camps to Marichjhampi as they felt that their
destination would provide them with familiar environment s and therefore a better
life. He shuttles between the Marichjhampi incident from Nirmals point of view
and the present day travels of Piya Roy, Kanai and Fokir. This time travel creates
an intricate web of sub-topics and plots. In his other novels, characters move round
gyre of timelessness, yielding helplessly to the chasm of human relations and other
postmodern perturbations.
Ghosh practices this technique in The Hungry Tide using Bangla words like
mohona, bhata and others, interweaving them with local myths like that of Bon
Bibi and her brother Shaj Jangali, the presiding deities of the region
In Sea of Poppies, the indentured labourers and convicts are transported to
the island of Mauritius on the ship Ibis where they suffer a lot. In the Sea of
Poppies the reader is carried back in time in the South Indian opium trade period,
where, after advancing on the social scale, all characters collide and start to see
each other as comrades, forming an unlikely alliance that goes beyond
conventional bonds of family and nation. The triple intertextual narrative begins
with the story of Deeti, a young widow of an opium dealer from a village from
northern Bihar, who is saved from her husbands funeral pyre by Kalua, an
oversized low-caste who falls in love with her. The second tale is that of Paulette,
an orphaned daughter of a French botanist, who arrives on board the ship in order
to delete her controversial past and meets Jodu, the son of her nurse, the only link
to her past. The other story is that of a bankrupt raja, who is chased from his
estates which fall into the hands of a gluttonous opium dealer.
Destiny brings these characters and many others together together on Ibis, an
old slaving ship which sails across the Indian Ocean, towards the Mauritius
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Islands. This vessel is portrayed by Ghosh as a metaphor for a huge womb where
the characters are socially reborn. While on land, these characters behaved in a
different manner, each of them belonging to a certain community, religion or caste
and were bound to strict conventions. The new setting, however, gradually blurs
the thick borderline between them. Just as the characters from Ondaatjes The
English Patient find the new settings, the desert and the Italian villa, as common
spaces of communion, so do all the totally disparate protagonists in the Sea of
Poppies with the schooner Ibis, the mobile setting they willy-nilly land on. Most
of those on board are going to the island of Mauritius as indentured labourers, the
differences between them as regards caste or culture being dissolved by their
predicament. Their only way out of it is to cross their own ethnic, religious,
cultural and linguistic borders and to communicate to their own good. Deeti, the
female protagonist seals their fate from the very outset of the journey when she
dooms:...from now on there are no differences between us, we are jahaz-bhai to
each other; all of us children of the ship(Ghosh 120).
To conclude with, in Sea of Poppies, Ghosh creates a unique lexicon of the
early 19th-century cultural references where its multicultural dimension is in the
limelight. By doing this, he may well be equated with other postcolonial writers
such as Salman Rushdie or Derek Walcott, whose lifetime quest has been that of
cultural border crossing and multicultural communion. This hybrid mix Ghosh
builds in this novel has both an illuminating and a dizzying effect on the readers
which turns them into intratextual and intertextual researchers.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (1957 - ) a diaspora writer. Her works are based
both in the U.S. and in India, and invariably feature the lives and troubles of
women. Much of her work is said to be based on her own experiences and those of
other Indian immigrants. She says, Women in particular respond to my work
because I am writing about them, women in love, in difficulties, women in
relationships. I want people to relate to my characters, to feel their joy and pain,
because it will be harder to be prejudiced when they meet them in real life (Softky
26). Divakarunis interest in women began after she left India, at which point she
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reevaluated the treatment of women there. At Berkeley, she volunteered at a


womens center and became interested in helping battered women. She then started
MAITRI with a group of friends, which eventually led her to write Arranged
Marriage, (1995) a work that includes stories about the abuse and courage of
immigrant women. Divakarunis novel, Sister of my Heart (1999) is about the lives
of two women and how they are changed by marriage, as one woman comes to
California, and the other stays behind in India
Before she began her career in fiction writing, Divakarunis wrote
poems encompassing a wide variety of themes, and she directs her
focus to the immigrant experience and to South Asian women. She shows the
experiences and struggles involved in women trying to find their own identities.
One of her earliest memories is that of her grandfather telling her stories from the
Ancient Indian scripture, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. She noticed that
unlike the male heroes, the main relationships the women had been with men, they
never had any important women friends. This realization was greatly influence
Divakarunis writing, which focuses on womens relationships.
The author of the novels The Mistress of Spices (1997), Sister of My Heart
(1999), The Vine of Desire (2002), Queen of Dreams (2004), and collections of
short stories, Arranged Marriage (1995), and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives
(2001), Chitra Banerjee founded the first South Asian Support Group for Women Maitri, and helps the battered women in America. She heard the heart-rending
stories of the women which inspired her to write the short stories in Arranged
Marriage. Her immigrant women characters are perceptively drawn.
In The Mistress of Spices, the process of self- perception is the foundation of
identity formation for the central character Tilotamma (Tilo). As Tilo strives to
define herself as South Asian and American, she develops multiple
consciousnesses that manifest themselves in both her experiences and her
subsequent relationships with her racial and sexual identities. While Tilo is living
in America, she is incapable of pure self -perception, and can only see herself
through the eyes of those around her, leaving her own self -seeing as a secondary
and almost marginal perspective. Tilo views herself through the lens of her
surrounding society, thereby leading to various and often conflicting simultaneous
visions of her identity.
It ventures into the unfathomable world of magic and daily experiences of
the characters. By blending the unreal world with the normal lives Divakaruni is
able to cross the boundary of interdisciplinary and creates a new magical world.
This in turns leads the readers to question regarding authentic or fabrication ideas
in ones life. In India it is natural for the people to believe ones foremothers or
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grandmothers folklore, stories and myth. Since, India is a storehouse of oral


tradition from various section of the society. The novel does not deal only with the
mystic nature of Tilo but its goes far deeper then the surface reading. It also
questions one major issue of hybrid identity in a foreign country. The fantasy and
the reality in the novel complement each other rather than separating them. The
Old One is a conjure woman and can study the innermost mind of people. In the
island she trains the young woman to become the Mistress of Spices and helps the
Indian living away rom the native land. The Old One becomes the means of
connecting the ancestral world with the present world. She represents the past and
Tilo the present. Tilo tries to bridge the gap between two different cultures and she
is the only one to help the immigrant to come in term with their lives. The Indian
living in America have to assimilate themselves with the new environment in order
to survive. Divakaruni represent the women characters change identities many a
times in order to arrive at a final identity, which redefines their self-hood. The
physical and psychological changes is explored and well presented in the form of
Tilo. She makes her characters evolve into different strategies to assert their
individual identity with a sense of freedom and confidence. Tilo tries to assert her
new found identity through the name she has given to herself. She is happy with
the name and her new identity.
Tilo has been addressed by nearly four different names representing four
conflicting and confusing identities in a single life time. She remains an enigma
both for the readers and herself. Her truth and identity is multi-layered just like the
spices whose potential she has the ability to unfold and which posit a number of
possibilities. Similarly Divakaruni suggests the idea of being reborn every time
after the symbolic death of her protagonists previous identity just like the mythical
bird phoenix which is reborn out of its own ashes. Tilo and her struggles to lead
life on her own terms represent the innate ability of human beings to swim against
the tide and succeed in life with hope and optimism. After a particular failure, Tilo
does not give up or leave trying. She renews her life and efforts from where she
left behind in her previous attempt. Tilo was named Nayan Tara at the time of her
birth, and later she was called Bhagyavati when she was kidnapped by the pirates
to serve as their lucky charm. She survives a severe storm to be washed ashore to
her new destiny as an apprentice learning the secret power of the spices in a
secluded island far removed from the materialistic world in which she had grown
up. After her apprenticeship, she ends up in America where she tries to cater to the
needs of the local expatriate Indian community under the assumed name Tilo, with
a seemingly aged and bent physical body, the effect of the magical fire of
Shampati. The novel traces the conflicting emotions and feelings which she goes
through. Being a mistress she could not aspire to live a normal life with human
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relationships, feelings and emotions if she wishes to retain her power over the
spices. If she went against the bounds of the spices, then she would be bereft of all
her power over them. However, she is drawn into a love affair with a lonely
American, Raven, against her will as his life reminds her of her own life and her
struggle with its conflicting realities. Due to this, Tilo temporarily loses her powers
only to regain them at the end of the novel, and in the process reinventing herself
as Maya, who could make the spices obey her commands, and at the same time
have a personal life of her own. The novel traces all these transitions of name,
character and personality with great subtlety.
Tilos psychic powers confer the ability to sense others problems and
suggest solutions to them by finding the right and appropriate spice. Her main
concern is the local expatriate Indian population living in California, far away from
their homeland, and yet unable to sever the invisible ties with India, the land of
their origin. Many of Tilos customers are searching for something authentic and
real to which they can hold to, and which would serve as a firm anchor around
which their lives could revolve. They find in Tilos spice shop memories of a past
they could never leave behind despite trying to lead a westernized existence in
distant America. The Mistress of Spices symbolically represents the struggles and
inner turmoil faced by a population which has moved geographically, politically,
socially and culturally from its homeland India, and is trying to come to terms with
a new existence in an alien land. Hence it can also be read and analyzed using the
concept of Diaspora. Tilo and the customers whom she tries to help are all trying to
reestablish their ties with India with the help of an ancient heritage which they
share in common. The spices and their mystery is a unique link which makes them
reminisce about their common past with nostalgia.
The role and significance of the spices cannot be overlooked. In ancient
times it was the spices that lured the West to the East. Actually the whole colonial
mission started on account of the spices. Thus the spices symbolize Orientalism
and exoticism. The magical treatment of the spices makes them all the more
alluring. Clearly, the spices and their mistress symbolically represent an ancient
culture characterized by its complexity and exoticism. Like Shange, Divakaruni
also through the spices tries equate her desire to preserve Indian sensibility in her
host country. The Spices which is equated to food is an important signpost in
Indian culture and cultural heritage. Food also suggests the sojourners
ineradicable connection with their homeland and also symbolizes the blending of
cultures and the immigrants progress towards advancement and assimilation. Thus
one can connect the importance of preserving ones foremothers recipes in order
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to connect with our immediate past. It is a natural phenomenon in multiculturalism


to seek means to preserve cultural heritage.
Sister of My Heart (1999), The novel Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee
Divakaruni details the sorrow filled lives of two Indian cousins. These cousins,
Anju and Sudha, were born on the same day and lived together as sisters in a joint
family consisting of the two girls and three mother figures. In a unique structure
that allows both girls to share alternating parts of their story, Sudha and Anju
describe their struggles with outdated Indian customs, the memories of their
fathers, arranged marriages, separation, in-laws, pregnancy, miscarriage and
abortion.
The central theme of the story is the girls' undying love for each other.
Ultimately the two each feel they have a reason that they are responsible for one
another's happiness. For instance, Sudha felt it was her fault that Anju's father was
dead. It was Sudha's father who suggested that he and Anju's father go treasure
hunting when the girls' mothers were pregnant. Two bodies were found in the area
where the two went treasure hunting and it was assumed both men died. Therefore
Sudha felt responsible for Anju because she thought it was her father's fault that
Anju did not have a living father. When the mothers learn their husbands have
died, both go into early labor. Anju is born first. Anju is placed on Sudha's
mother's stomach in a belief that Anju's presence would make Sudha be born more
quickly. Therefore, Anju feels responsible for Sudha because she was the one who
called Sudha into the world.
Along with the central theme of the girls' friendship, there is a mystery
concerning the deaths of both Sudha and Anju's fathers that unravels throughout
the book. This mystery affects Sudha more deeply than Anju because Sudha's
father's role in the treasure hunt was so questionable. At one point Sudha believes
her father is a liar, cheater and a murderer. A letter given to Sudha at the end of the
novel clears up the situation and helps Sudha come to peace with her father and his
memory. It is with this letter that the novel has a surprising twist.
Love and sacrifice are also important issues in this novel. Sudha first gives
up her true love because she is afraid if she elopes, Anju's future father-in-law will
call off Anju's wedding. Although Anju's wedding was arranged, she loves her
husband because he meets with her in secret at the bookstore and encourages her to
talk about books. Although not intentionally, Anju sacrifices her health and her
baby to earn money so that she can fly Sudha and her baby to America. Anju
realizes India is not the ideal place for a single mother to raise a baby and wants
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better for her friend. As the story closes, Anju welcomes Sudha and her baby in
America even though she realizes her husband has an obsession with Sudha.
The Vine of Desire (2002) is a sequel to Sister of My Heart. The truth is I
like sequels. I like them better than a book that tells you all about a character/s in
one shot. With sequels, you see an evolution; you can trace the growth of that
character. This one began ominously with "In the beginning was pain"and
thereafter it rambled, meandered, stumbled, floundered, carrying forward a frayed
plot by the sheer force of pretty words and phrases.
Anju and Sudha, cousins and girlhood companions, after a year of living
separate lives come together again in America. Anju is recovering from a
miscarriage that has unhinged her life and Sudha who chose to keep her girl child
rather than abort is now a divorced woman. Caught between the two women is
Sunil, Anju's husband who has always nurtured a passion for his wife's cousin.
Sudha seeking a measure of self worth, trying to assuage loneliness succumbs to
Sunil's need for her and then flees from home, cousin and cousin's husband to be a
nursemaid to an old and ailing man. Sunil moves out and away. Anju does her
writing coursework, makes it to the Dean's list and learns to fly. In fact, it's only
once Sudha leaves Anju's home, that the book picks up pace and actually becomes
quite enjoyable.
If the plot seems limp, the main characters or rather how they are drawn is
even weaker. Divakaruni hadn't resorted to what seems to be a series of creative
writing exercises. So you don't know if you are reading a novel, a commentary,
journal entries, or an assignment book. Self indulgent always and at times
annoying and at times awfully boring A writer of Divakaruni's stature ought to
know better.
After all she has in the same book managed to create some poignant
moments and extraordinary minor characters: Dayanita, Sudha's baby, and her
relationship with Sunil. Mr. Sen, the old man Sudha nurses and the intensity of his
hatred. Lalit the funny, gregarious, surgeon. And the three old women in Calcutta Gouri, Pishi and Aunty N, whom Divakaruni captures with sensitivity and humour
and with something as spartan as a set of letters.
Queen of Dreams (2004), Using powerful, lush and rich language that is
particular to Indo-English authors, DIVAKARUNI immerses her readers into the
minds of the characters who play various roles in the novel. In the first chapter, she
describes a dream that sets the pace for the rest of the novel. Unfortunately,
however, from time to time the initial fast paced momentum seems to peters out
but picks up again at the end of the novel.
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After her death, Queen of Dreams (as her husband used to call her), who had
played a pivotal role in the life of her daughter, leaves behind a journal of dreams
for her daughter to read.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is impressive in simultaneously and
convincingly understanding the feelings of both mother and daughter. She achieves
this juggling act with little apparent effort by writing in the first person narrative
and switching to third person, when it is her daughter's Rhaki's "whisper" voice or
consciousness that prods her.
Queen of Dreams brings to mind the surrealist paintings of Dali, as she not
only interprets her own dreams but also enters into the dreams of others and
communicates with them in order to warn them of impending doom. One could
also term it "Magic Realism," as reality intermingles with the magic of her
dreaming.
A native of the slums of India, the Queen of Dreams wants to spare her
daughter the tale of her strange and painful past. Rakhi was born in the United
States and grows up with a feeling of belonging to her birth land. She married and
separated from Sonny, another immigrant, and their six- year old daughter, Jona,
tries to reunite them. Much of the book's activities transpire in a small caf, "The
Chai House," owned by Rakhi and her "liberated" Sikh friend and partner Belle.
After her mother dies in a fatal crash, her father, who was a drunk, becomes her
unlikely ally in saving her flailing business. He also aids her in translating her
mother's journal from Bengali to English.
The events of 9/11 bring the family in contact with a bunch of "goons" who
attack them and accuse them of being terrorists due to the color of their skin. Out
of the ashes, Rakhi, like a Phoenix, rekindles her love for her husband and her
family.
The characters are extremely well developed. You feel Rhaki's frustrated
quest for her roots, the anguish of the mother, who is condemned by her " vivid
imagination", the kindness of her father, the love of Sonny and Jona, and the hatred
of racists and bigots. Another character, Marco, who is a homeless person relying
on leftover muffins from the caf is also a likeable character.
The entire novel is peppered with gloriously memorable prose poetry. I
particularly liked these sentences in her first chapter for example when Chitra
Banerjee Divakaruni describes the Snake who appears to her as a foreboding: "...
He was more beautiful then I remembered. His plated green skin shone like
rainwater on banana plants in the garden plot.... His body glowed with light. A
clear, full light tinged with coastal purples, late afternoon in the cypresses along
the Pacific." Or when Rhaki speaks of her mother: "She moved quietly and with
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confidence, the way deer might step deep inside a forest, the rustle of her clothes a
leafy breeze....." Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is particularly gracious when
describing the ageing cafe customers: "...lined, unabashedly showing their age,
they hint at eventful pasts lived in different difficulties and triumphs I can't quite
imagine..."
Until the very end we are enthralled with the mystery of the snake and the
mysterious man in white, invoking queries as to relationships, racism, terrorism,
painting, dreams, premonitions and much more. QUEEN OF DREAMS is a novel
that will find a home in many book clubs, where it will be receive a sympathetic
reception, and probably widely discussed! A must read!
In many ways this novels falls (not neatly, but at least clearly) into two
halves. Firstly, and prosaically, the first part of the novel concentrates on the lives
and histories of the characters. Mrs Gupta, the Queen of Dreams, tells the dreams
of the local people, interpreting their dreams and the effects on their lives. She is a
somewhat mysterious figure, even to her family, and who will not talk about her
past life in India, much to the disappointment of her daughter, Rakhi. Rakhi is the
central character of the novel, and all her life she has dreamed of India and her
mother's secret life of dreams. American born, Rakhi is still coming to terms with
the divide in her family's history, between India and the US, and she runs an
ethnic-style coffee shop in Berkeley, California, with her friend Belle (Balant), and
also paints and exhibits. Recently divorced, Rakhi will not discuss the reasons for
her divorce, and fights with her ex-husband, Sonny, for their small daughter, Jona.
It is Rakhi's search for meaning and truth that is at the heart of the novel.
Arranged Marriage (1995) is Chitra Banerjee Divakarunis debut collection
of short stories. The collection has 11 short stories, and majority of the stories deal
with the immigrant experience along with the social- cultural encounter that an
Indian experiences when he moves towards the west, which is an important theme
in the mosaic of American Indian culture. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was born in
1957 in Calcutta (India). In childhood, she attended a convent school and has a
bachelors degree from the University of Calcutta. In 1976 at the age of 19, she
immigrated to The United States. In America, she continued her studies and earned
a masters degree in English from Wright States University in Dayton, Ohio.
Afterward she completed her PhD. from the University of California at Berkeley.
To pay for her education Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni did a variety of small jobs in
America which includes babysitting, selling commodities in an Indian Boutique,
slicing bread in a bakery and washing instruments in a science lab. Today she lives
with her husband and two children and teaches creative writing at the University of
Houston. She is an award winning author and poet. Her works are widely known
moreover they have been translated into 13 languages.
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Divakaruni is also a lively social worker. She became engrossed in womens


problems when she went to America and saw the troubles faced by so-called black
in a country of so-called white. In 1991, she established Maitri a hotline for
South Asian women who are sufferers of domestic cruelty and abuse. It was her
involvement with Maitri, that ultimately led her to write Arranged Marriage a
work that includes stories about the abuses and bravery of immigrant women. A
good number of stories in this collection are based on the lives of Indian
immigrants that she has dealt with. Her other works also namely The Mistress of
Spices, Sisters of My Heart etc are set in India and America and features Indianborn women sandwiched between old and new world ethics. She writes with
insight and consideration, in a language that is expressive as well as
uncomplicated. In all her stories, she takes the readers deep into the many-layered
worlds of her characters, the world that is crammed with terror, optimism, and
discovery. In an interview in The telegraph, March 13th 2005 she says that women
in particular respond to her work because she is writing about them women in
love, women in difficulty, women in relationship. She wants people to relate to her
characters so that they can feel their joy and pain, since it will be harder to be
prejudiced when they meet them in real life.
In the present collection of short stories Arranged Marriage (1995) the
author, skillfully tells stories about immigrant Indians who are both modern as well
as trapped by cultural transformation, who are struggling to shape out an identity
of their own in a unknown land. The Indian expression in America and the clash
between the culture of the native country and the adopted country in which one has
to live is the focal point of most of the stories in this collection. The stories in
this collection also focus on and exactly capture the experiences of the immigrant
Indian. Divakaruni herself is an immigrant. Consequently, she seems to have a
first-hand knowledge and experience about life in India as well as that of USA. It
is therefore customary that she draws heavily for the plots of her short stories upon
Indian women, Indian beliefs and the changing principles of the Indian immigrants,
especially women as they are exposed to the western ideas and values. It is the
social-culture encounter that has made Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni a promising
literary celebrity and her books an instantaneous success.
It seems that majority of the protagonists in Arranged Marriage face the
problem of cultural displacement. The characters are caught in the web of dualism
of convention versus modernization. This displacement gives birth to situations
and troubles that leave them befuddled and helpless. Thus, the protagonists of
Divakaruni are trapped between the two ideologies and are desperately trying to
find a way out. The dilemma is either to break away from or to adapt with the
changing social cultural scenario. Divakaruni says that she writes to help unite
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people by breaking old stereotypes. The stories in this collection addresses issues
such as racial discrimination, inter racial relationship, discrepancy, abortion and
divorce.
Divakaruni in an interview to The Hindustan Times January 31, 2011 says
that she explore complex Diaspora identities. She further states that many of us
articulate in our books the deepest fear and trauma faced by women in India and
America-and show them emerge, at least in many cases as stronger and self-reliant
women. All characters in this collection of short stories are women of potency and
energy, who in some way or other question the value and tradition of the age that
has ended. Sumita in Clothes, Aunty Pratima in Silver Pavement, Shona in The
World Love, Meena in A Perfect Life, Manisha in The Maid Servants Story, Meena
and Abha in Affair, Asha and Mrinal in Meeting Mrinal are women torn between
the two worlds. The visualization of the future may not be clear to them but it is
accurate. From the first story of this collection Bats to the last story Meeting
Mrinal the women protagonists constantly try to strive a balance between the old
conventional beliefs and their new life in America.
Chitra Divakaruni questions the basic man-woman relationship in Indian society,
which is essentially a patriarchal society. Simone de Beavvoir in her The Second
Sex tells that marriage is the destiny tradition offered to women by society. Finding
a suitable match for their daughter is the sole concern of many parents in our
society. This task of finding a suitable match is so inherent in the Indian culture
that it is believed that a girls life begins and ends with marriage. Similarly, the
sati-savitri and patiparmeshwar syndrome is also deeply rooted in Indian psyche.
In the short story, The Clothes Sumitas marriage is fixed, or arranged with
Somesh. Sumita surrenders to Somesh only for the reason that she fells that it is
her wifely duty. However when after marriage Somesh goes back to America,
Sumita feels that she is not able to recall Someshs face. Chitra Divakaruni shows
the readers the paradox of an arranged marriage. Again, Sumita who has constantly
been fed on traditional ideas feels that it is her moral duty to act like a good Indian
wife. serving tea to her mother-in-laws friends covering her head with her
sari. not addressing her husband by his name, etc.
Sumitas life in America is not different from the life led by other daughterin-laws in Indian society of these days. Her life as she says in the short story is
frozen. Her life is a world so small, a glass world and America rushes by. It is this
syndrome of playing sati-savitiri, which does not allow her to be herself. In this
story Somesh, Sumitas husband is also trapped into the deeply rooted cultural
bashfulness. He is very much conscious about the American way of life of
impartiality and emancipation. Nevertheless, the fear to break the customary knobs
does not allow him to articulate his views or disagree with his parents. He does not
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have the courage to break the sravan-image that is present in Indian traditional
male. He is not prepared to live disjointedly from his parents as he feels that he
could never abandon them (parents).He is stuck between his love for his wife and
his devotion towards his parents. The story reaches its climax when Somesh is
murder by some unknown persons. This is an enormous shock to Sumita as she
realizes that her life has also ended with Someshs death. She further realizes that
her life, her happiness, her sorrows, her clothes, her habits etc. had never been her
own but always had been for her husband and his family. At the end of the story,
we see Sumita standing in her bedroom and seeing her image in the mirror.
Tradition asks her to wear white however, the mirror, as personified by the heart,
shows a different image. Sumita feels that America is calling her .America that
emblematically stands for liberty, gratification, and existence. She rejects what fate
has given her and decides that she does not want to become a Dove with cutoff
wings. She visualizes a new independent woman in the mirror. Thus in this story
she is able to reject the widows clothes and position that the society and the family
customarily imposes on a women.
The first story in this collection of short stories is Bats. This story is quite
opposite to what Clothes is. The protagonist in this short story is totally engulfed
by the traditional ties. The protagonist in the short story is a victim of domestic
violence. She is constantly beaten by her husband and desperately wants to escape.
However, her traditional ties are so strong that she cannot break from the myth of
pati-parmeshwar. Her life with her husband had been a hell furthermore, she
escapes to her native village with her child. Here in the village the atmosphere is
reasonably good, the open sky, the river, and the trees - all that a child requires for
a holistic development is present in the village. However, a letter from her husband
and a small promise, a bit of gesture of love is enough for her. Consequently, she
returns to her husband and this time she hopes that life will change. Nevertheless,
she does not realize that by flying somewhere else she may be secure. However,
we are acquainted with the fact that life will not change, her miscalculations
concerning her husband may lead her and her sons life into another hell-like
situation.
In the story, Affairs Meera and Asha are two characters that are poles apart.
Meena feels that marriage for her is a miscalculated blunder of life. Asha also feels
the same however her way of expression is different .Meera and Asha, both in their
own way are in search of themselves- in search of their identity. On the other hand,
Srikant and Ashok the male characters in the short stories are also suffocated
with their conventional roles. Srikant Meenas husband knows and accepts the
fact that they (Srikant and Meena) are not made for each other. He agrees with the
fact that Meena is a falcon and he is a penguin, they do not match each other.
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Meera also knows this; nevertheless, the traditional ties do not allow her the choice
to be herself. For her, her friend Asha she is an icon of Indian traditional
womanhood. Her predicament is that she appreciates the qualities that she sees in
Asha, but she cannot be like her. As such, she is totally westernized and selfcentered in her approach to life and its problems. Nevertheless, she wants Ashas
sanction, that is to say appreciation of tradition that is personified in the character
of Asha, as she sees her. This mind-set of Meera is quite surprising for Asha, for
her Meera is a personification of America and what America stands for. She does
not understand why the beautiful Meera whom she envied, admired, and adored
wants her approval.
On the other hand, Marriage between Asha and Ashok is also on an edge.
They feeling of the empty ache is always felt by both. Meenas disenchantment
with her marriage has helped Asha to realize that time has changed her priorities of
life. She feels that convention gives no scope for transform. Her priority until now
had been her husband and her family, which resulted in a state of depression. She
realizes that the old rules are not always right, not here and not even in India. To
move on in life old cuffs have to be broken. Asha reflects back and she accepts the
fact that her own individuality has no place in the system of marriage. Here gender
roles clash with individual goals. Here Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni questions the
basic man-woman relationship. She points out that marriage under such
circumstances is not a union of two souls and individuals as it should idyllically be,
however it is a burden where evolution is not possible. Asha has matured with the
experiences and with maturity, she welcomes with open arms all that she has
deprived herself of.
To preserve equilibrium between old traditions and new requirements is a
tricky task, but with the shifting times, this has become necessary. A radical
change is taking place round us and most of the writers of today are aware about it.
The solution to the problem may or may not be in sight, but the enormity of the
clash is surely felt. In the short story Meeting-Mrinal, both Mrinal as well as Asha
feel the conflict. Asha is a simple and traditional homemaker, while Mrinal is an
unmarried worked woman - slim and fashionable. Asha wants to be what Mrinal is
an independent modern women. She wants to free herself from the traditional
role of a wife, of a mother, of a daughter-inlaw. Contrary to Ashas expectations,
Mrinal fells that Asha has all good things in her life things that she wishes and
envies in life. Mahesh is also feeling the social cultural conflict. He is also caught
between the web of tradition and modernism. Mahesh is also feeling the wave of
change. All his life, he tells Asha that he has been doing what people wanted,
being dutiful son, a responsible husband, and father. Finally, he finds the person
who makes him feel alive and happy. This happiness may also be a delusion.
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Nevertheless, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni wants to show that the Indian male is
also feeling the load of convention. They also wish to break away from the
typecast roles that the society has allotted them.
Indian men who leave their native country and drift to USA also feel the
conflict between traditional and modern way of life. In the short story Doors the
author talks not only about Preetis sensitivity, but also about Deepaks. Preeti is a
girl who is born and educated in US, while Deepak, as Preetis mother describes
him is a man straight out of India. She is completely against such type of marriage,
as she knows that Indian and America stand for different values. In Indians
families, I is not a concern, but in America, privacy is a part of life. Preetis
mother fells that the Indian concept of family is an old concept and that is why she
says that Deepak is a person with pre historical values. However, to begin with
Preeti and Deepak are happily married. They consider that their marriage to be
based on mutual esteem, it is something more than the traditional marriage, but
ultimately this proves to be a misconception. Raj a cousin from India comes to stay
with them. Deepak is quite happy with Raj. However, their socialization is a
burden for Preeti as she faces a problem of a different kind. She is not able to
recognize the joint family and the extended family values that an Indian has. She is
much used to the American ides of privacy. Here the conflict is between I and
WE. Preeti is not able to and does not even try to appreciate the difference
between the two cultures. On the other hand, Raj is also not able to understand the
meaning of privacy that Preeti desires in their marriage. The close door system of
America is like a riddle to Raj, as he has never seen any door being shut in a
traditional Indian family. In due course, Preeti decides to depart from Raj and the
door finally is clicked shut. The title of the story is also quite remarkable. In an
inter-country marriage when values change, a person has to adapt to new values.
However, when this flexibility is not there, marriages are predestined to fail. In this
short story, Preeti and Deepak are not able to recognize this fact of life and thus
they close their doors. Little more understanding of each others value would have
led to better appreciation, esteem, and love, but that is a far possibility.
Simone-de Beavoir in her Second Sex tells that feminine literature is in
these days animated less by a wish to demand our rights then by an effort towards
clarity and understanding. Similarly, Chitra Banerjee Divakarunis short stories
show a protagonist in a particular situation and leave the rest for the readers. All
her characters look forward to a better tomorrow. In the short story, Silver
Pavements Golden Roofs Jayanti is an optimist character. In spite of seeing the
horrible face of America, she realizes that an Indian in America is a brown or
coloured. Nevertheless, she feels that the situation is not as bleak as it seems. She
notices that the snow has covered her hand so they are no longer brown but white.
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Enlightenment comes a hard way, but she feels that it will come. This story was
penned in 1995 and today in 2012; we have a black African American as the
President of America. Thus, a change is being seen. As the author puts it, beauty
and pain should be part of each day.
Anwar Sheikh the political and social critic feels that the basic association of
man and woman is a search of security and happiness through harmony. When this
harmony gets disturbed, a marriage fails. Our belief-system, the stereotype
traditional roles, literature, religious conviction, myth, movies, and mass media
all, especially in India creates limitations. These limitations in turn create social
pressures. Even during pregnancy, contrary to popular Indian belief 20% of women
experience symptoms of depression. {Times of India March 5, 2006} This fact is
brought to surface in the short-store titled Ultrasound. Ranu in India and Anju in
America are both depressed and aggravated during the time of their pregnancy.
The author in this story skillfully touches the topic of abortion. The Indian attitude
is biased towards a girl-child. A girl-child is a burden and an unwanted addition to
a traditional family. The best solution that many opt for is illegal abortion. The end
of the story is quite absurd it leads to a void. Yet again, the writer is not showing
a path, but is viewing a situation.
Does motherhood complete the picture of a woman? this question is also
asked by the writer in the short-story The Perfect Life. Meera the protagonist in the
short story feels that she a good life an interesting job and a supportive boyfriend
Richard. She has, as she says space in her relationship with Richard. She
appreciates and loves her independence but she also feels the curse of solitude. She
is many times miserable as she misses the tenderness that comes from living in a
family especially Indian family. Conversely, the scene changes as the child
Krishna enters her life. She is psychologically attached to Krishna and wants to
adopt him. However, this is not possible due to certain rules and regulations of
adoption in America. Ultimately, Krishnas disappearance greatly affects her. It
takes great toil on her, however with the passage of time she comes out of her
depression. The mask that she is supposed to wear the mask of education, the
mask of social pressures, the mask of controlled behavior and her own limitations,
she feels does not allow her to be the victim of the circumstances She feel the void
in her life, but she is ready to compromises. Again, her concept of a perfect life
with Richard or Krishna may just be a fantasy.
The protagonist and the narrator of the story Disappearance, faces a very
different situation. The protagonist this time is a man, who is married to a quite,
pretty, well-bred Indian girl. It is an arranged-marriage. The narrator who is also
the protagonist in this case is quite happy, contented, and comfortable with the
marriage. But one day his wife suddenly disappears. Now he is a lost man, not
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knowing the why and how about the person he has married. His concept of realism
is traumatized .He loses his peace of mind as he realizes that he knows nothing
about his wife. The unknown areas of his wifes existence keeps on yawing
blankly around him like a charm. Having a child does not help here. A child is no
insurance for a perfect life. The police ask him if he had quarrel with his wife
this interrogative question makes him reflect back on his married life. He believes
that he is an honest person but the introspection of his past reveals the hidden
skeletons in his cupboard. He reflects that many a times he had to put his foot
down and refused his wife - like when she wanted to get a job or go back to school
or buy American clothes. These aspects of her life were useless by him, he has
never tried to understand the person his wife was. The story is written from a pure
masculine viewpoint. Some act or thought that may be quite typical for a
traditional man may not be the same for a woman. Silence does not always mean
agreement. The protagonist who is quite busy with his own world and views does
not notice the anxiety felt by the wife. Again, for him forced sex in marriage is
quite customary. He thinks it is the husbandly rights and wifes duty to do what he
thinks is right. There is no understand and equality in this marriage. In this short
story for a change the writer does not presents before us the viewpoint of her
female character. However, the act of disappearance itself suggests that the wife
has escaped from the cage. Marriage for her has become a prison physically as
well as intellectually in which no progress was possible. The only solution that
she saw was to break the oppression furthermore this also requires guts.
At the same time, The Maid Servants story is a story that requires some
particular consideration. In this short story, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni deals with
human relationship at various phases of life. We are shown the relationship
between Manish and Bijoy, Deepamasii and Manish, Manish and her mother, and
relation between Manishs mother and father. However, it is Saralas story Sarala
the maidservant. In this story, the writer introduces us to women from different
generations and economical groups in our society. Manish belong to a traditional
Bengali family. However, after her immigration to America, she undergoes a
transformation. In her ideas about relationship, she is entirely westernized. She
wants a librated relationship with no strings attached. She is more close to
Deepamasii when compared to her own mother. As a child, she had always
yearned for parental love, which she never got. She never got the praise she carved
- that squeezed breathless, delirious with joy hug that other mothers gave their
daughters. She is emotionally starved and accordingly in all her relationship she
does not fell the complete contentment that a perfect relationship should give. Her
relation with Bijoy also does not make her happy. She persistently feels the feeling

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of guilt that tradition many times imposes of us. She also, indirectly blames her
mother for her current juxtaposition.
Sarala, the maidservant in this short story is a person dedicated to her work.
However, when the mistress of the house is ill, the husband behaves in a typical
manner. Emotion of guilt is not to be seen as he goes towards Saralas room, with
mal intentions in his mind. He tells the servant not to act so virtuous - once a
whore, always a whore. Nevertheless, when he sees that his plans have failed he
threatens the maidservant he calls her a Bitch. Now because he is a man and
morals in our society are only for women, he does not feel the guilt that is felt by
Manish. The writer shows us the double standard of our society. In marriage,
fidelity and loyalty are considered to be the greatest virtues that a woman should
possess. Well! What about men? Does not our tradition stand on double values?
Divakaruni once explained her reason for writing she says that there is
certain spirituality, not necessarily religious the essence of spirituality that is
the heart of the Indian psyche that finds the divine in everything. It is important for
her to start writing about her own reality and that of her community. She writes
with a purpose and for a purpose. Barbara Anna Barabara, the spiritual writer says
that happiness will not be ours until we do what is right for us. The quest for
happiness and harmony is what the characters in this collection of short stories
Mita, Jayanti, Meera, Preeti, Abha, Meena, Mrinal - are trying to achieve. They are
also questioning the values of old traditions and seeking to accomplish something
innovative and different. It is time to alter and the priorities of human beings are
changing. In this changing scenario, writers like Divakaruni are rewriting the
history of their characters.

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Firdaus Kanga
Firdaus Kanga was born into a middle-class Bombay family in 1960. His
semi-autobiographical novel Trying to Grow (1994) was turned into the awardwinning film Sixth Happiness (1997) for which he not only wrote the screenplay
but also played the lead role.
He has presented a number of documentaries on the themes of disability,
such as Double the Trouble, Twice the Fun (d. Pratibha Parmar, 1992), a
provocative documentary drama that explored sex between gay men and lesbians
who have disabilities. The film was broadcast on 15 July 1992 as part of Channel
Four's lesbian and gay series out (1991-94).

Scion of a Calcutta Parsee family, Daryus Kotwal was born with


osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that has condemned him to a diminutive
stature and life in a wheelchair. Moreover, his bones are so brittle that he is
nicknamed Brit. This first novel by Bombay-based Kanga is the breezy but
touching account of Brit's adolescence and early adulthood. He must deal not only
with the physical effects of his disease, but also with his image as a fragile,
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dependent boy. Constantly fluttering around Brit are his mother, Sera, his father,
Sam, and his sister, Dolly, all Anglophiles whose insouciance and wit often seem
to parody Noel Coward. Brit's overprotective family only reluctantly lets him
cultivate his first friend, Cyrus, a young man who moves in next door. After a brief
episode of sexual confusion over Cyrus, Brit finally falls for the latter's girlfriend,
Amy. Meanwhile, he sails through college by correspondence and takes his first
tentative steps as a writer. But just when he and Amy achieve intimacy, a double
tragedy occurs, and Brit's self-reliance is severely tested. Although the narrative
often skips lightly along the surface, it succeeds in conveying the protagonist's
precarious physical and emotional equilibrium. Through Kanga's promising prose
we observe Brit realize his greatest wish: to be seen as a man.
In an interview with Nandini Lal for the Hindustan Times, novelist Bapsi
Sidhwa was asked whether she had mothered this whole Parsi brood in fiction.
Her response suggests one of the major themes that inform Kangas work: Firdaus
Kanga met me in London, she says, and very sweetly said he didnt think Parsi
could be worth writing about, and with humor, till Crow Eaters. Whether this
was, in his fiction and other prose Kanga has been very interested in portraying the
Parsi community, whether in Bombay or in London, Trying to Grow, for example,
is a broadly autobiographical novel set in Bombay, through the eyes of young
Daryus Kotwal, son of Sam and Sera and brother of Dolly. Older than Daryus,
Dolly serves as his best friend and his nurse, often, sacrificing her own happiness
to assure her brothers. Not surprisingly, given the fact that the narrator is restricted
to a wheelchair, the setting for the story is limited to a one square mile area of the
city. Most of the action is interior, in fact, and even when Daryus is wheeled off
the grounds to the cinema or the seaside, the narrator is busy analysis his position
in society and his potential for love. Brits relationship with his father is somewhat
strained; the father tries to disguised his disappointment in his sons prospects but
finally commits suicide when his daughter marries and leaves home and he is left
with his crippled son. Brit is close to his mother, who accepts her sons disability
with grace, and to Tina, his deaf cousin.
As with any bildungsroman, the principal focus of the plot is the young
mans attempt to break free of his necessarily protective parents and to carve out
an independent life. In the process, he discovers his own awakening sexuality in
encounters with a neighbor, Cyrus, and also with his girlfriend Amy. Cyrus
appears to be everything that Brit can never be, and Brits infatuation is immediate
and intense. But the relatively idyllic world of childhood soon passes. Dolly moves
to America and marries; Brits father accompanies her and walks into oncoming
traffic; Tina is sold into prostitution; Brits mother dies; Cyrus and Amy decide on
marriage- all potentially melodramatic but recounted simply. The author seems to
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be clearing the decks for his narrator because at this point in the novel. Brit sees
himself as free to move to England. He does so, and his life, in a sense, begins
anew.
By the end of the novel, during which Brit's wheelchair has traversed diverse
sexual directions, we know his environment and his handicap have given him a
shape we might all be better human beings with.This debut work of fiction could
so easily have been merely a good sob story: its ingredients automatically suggest
an aesthetic weepy. In the event it is very considerably more.
In India where religion still dictates most cultural acts, Kanga's novel broke
several taboos - portraying disabled people with healthy, rich sexual appetites.
Kanga publicly rejected Hindu notions of karma (laying responsibility for suffering
at what humans may have done in their last birth) often foisted on disabled people.
Kanga was one of the first few public figures in India who stood up for the views
of gay people, celebrating sexuality, in a society that still criminalises, though
hardly, if ever, prosecutes homosexuality. He now lives in London. He is also the
U.K. Author of Heaven on Wheels, and his film Sixth Happiness is out on DVD in
UK.

Vikram Chandra
Vikram Chandra novelist, short story writer, street play writer and essayist
was born on July 23.1961 in New Delhi. He studied in Mayo College, a boarding
school located in Ajmer Rajasthan, which is a desert state in the north west of
India, and the traditional home of the Rajput warrior clans. After a short stay at St.
Xaviers College in Bombay. Chandra went to the United States. There, he
graduated from Pomana College, in Claremont near Los Angeles, in 1984 and got
his bachelor's degree in English and creative writing from the USA. He studied in
film school at Columbia University in New York. He also got M.A. from Johns
Hopkins University and M.F.A. from Houston University. In the Columbia Library
he chanced upon the autobiography of Colonel James Sikander Skinner, a
legendary nineteenth century solider, half Indian and half British. When he read
the translated version of Sikanders autobiography, originally written in Persian the sophisticated court of Language of the time. He began to consider the large
interpolations and excisions made by the translator. All in all, the deep and
reflexive reading of this book became the true inspiration for his first novel, Red
Earth and Pouring Rain (1995). He left film school halfway to begin work at the
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novel. But art was not unknown to Chandra, who was deeply influenced by his
mothers passion for writing. Kamna Chandra, a successful screenplay writer in the
Indian Film industry. Vikram Chandra would state that he could not remember a
time when she was not writing.
His first novel Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995) achieved huge success.
His second book Love and Longing in Bombay (1997) is a collection of short
stories. The five stories in the collection are named for the precepts of Hindu
philosophy viz. Dharma (duty), Shakti (strength), Kama (desire) Artha (Economy)
and Shanti (Peace). He has tried to show how these principles are woven with the
lives of the Indian people. Chandras works deal with intersection, collision and
hybridization of different cultures.
In his essay The Cult of Authenticity, he discusses several common
charges against the Indian writers living abroad that they are insulated from true
Indian experience, regional writers necessarily reflect Indian realities more
sincerely and that the diasporic writers target a western audiences. Chandra
counters these arguments by saying that writers must be free and to be deliberately
anti-exotic is to be limited and censored.
Chandras Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995) was received with
outstanding critical acclaim. It was awarded the David Higham Prize for fiction
and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Published Book in 1996. In
his novel, Chandra takes the reader across multiple times and places, from the
battle paths in nineteenth century India to contemporary roads in the states. Sanjay,
one of the main narrative voices, reincarnated as a monkey, represents the
traditional storyteller, recovering the vital strength of oral narration. Abhay, a
young Indian contemporary student, is his counterpart, the one who will finally
assume the relevance of a cultural heritage that belongs to him as much as to his
ancestors.
Hanuman, a benevolent god, offers useful advice early on to Sanjay: "Don't
you know this yet? Straightforwardness is the curse of your age, Sanjay. Be wily,
be twisty, be elaborate. Forsake grim shortness and hustle. Let us luxuriate in your
curlicues. Besides, you need a frame story for its peace, its quiet. You're too
involved in the tale, your audience is harried by the world. No, a calm storyteller
must tell the story." And though some of the twists and turns his tale takes are too
large to be called curlicues, Sanjay certainly takes the rest of the advice to heart.
As does our author. Sanjay has his frame and his storyteller, and so does Mr.
Chandra. And neither is going to be accused of straightforwardness. While Abhay's
sections have a refreshingly uncluttered narrative, the poet tells a tale that wanders
generously and is many layered.
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Stories live in stories throughout "Red Earth and Pouring Rain." Abhay
leaves with two friends on a college road trip to "seek heaven." Everyone tells a
story, and embedded in each there are other stories. Abhay's journey is full of the
kind of American detail that serves as frank counterpoint to Sanjay's exotic trials.
His pickup line is "Elvis has not left the building"; he goes slam-dancing with a
buddy; some of their trips are drug-induced; a girlfriend's mother was a Playboy
Playmate. Abhay has been obsessed with the United States since first falling under
the material spell of an old Sears catalogue, and beneath all his modern adventures
swims the uneasy sense that he does not fit in, that he is India, which remains
loved only for what the British raj imposed.
Sanjay's story, which is the dominant narrative, resists summary, but it is
complicated and large and uninhibited, and speaks to the same theme across the
span of time. Sanjay is seduced and puzzled by the charms of the English
language. There is a magnificent story in which he finds that an English friend has
published a book insulting Sanjay's heritage. The poet weaves a subversive
message into the book when he sets the type and then, to avoid discovery, he eats
the type. Later, when a revolution has begun, the type emerges from his skin and
he uses it as explosives. If the pen is mightier than the sword, consider how
powerful an ordnance movable type could be.
Sanjays story grows larger and larger. It is full of coincidence, accidents
with elephants, weapons with names, magical fires -- and includes an appearance
by Alexander the Great. Even after he dies, Sanjay must continue. He walks to
London to fight an old foe, an epic journey. When he arrives, the contest he has
with the English villain is huge, magical, and cinematic. Mr. Chandra avoids the
pitfalls his god spoke of -- grim shortness and hustle -- and while there may have
been a few curlicues too many for me (and certainly too many characters whose
names start with "S"), who wants an editor when you're spinning stories to save
your life?
Ultimately Red Earth and Pouring Rain speaks of the danger and harm in
there being a single version -- in the concept that there is only one story. Zealots
outside Abhay's house have begun fighting. Attempts to unify Hindustan made the
streets run red. What can save and sustain us, as it does Sanjay, is a story, and that
story is a big one -one without end, in fact, in a mansion with rooms and rooms and
rooms.
In Chandras fictional world, narrative is not merely an ordering device: it
directly forms the characters experiences, as they make and remake their stories of
others lives and their own. Chandras narratives are, besides, also part of the great
continuing story that is India. The chosen subject- matter of the two books under
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discussion is the subcontinent in part or in whole, its past and its present, its
inherent dynamic and its relations with the wider world. The author does, of
course, fall into the category of expatriate or diasporic practitioners of the genre
known as Indian Writing in English (IWE); and, as a US resident who nonetheless
spends considerable time in India; he stands at a particular intersection point, one
also occupied by many of his fellow Indo-Anglian writers.

Suketu Mehta
Suketu Mehta is a writer based in New York City. He was born in Kolkata,
in 1963, India, and raised in Mumbai where he lived until his family moved to the
New York area in 1977. Mehta is a journalist and fiction writer. His nonfiction
book "Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found" won the Kiriyama Prize and the
Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre
Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book
Award. He has won the Whiting Writers Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New
York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction. Mehta's work has been
published in The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta,
Harpers Magazine, Time, and Cond Nast Traveler. Mehta is currentlly working
on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he
was awarded a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship.
Mehta is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. He
is currently working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New
York, for which he was awarded a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship. He has also
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written original screenplays for films, including New York, I Love You. Mehta
was born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay and New York. He is a graduate of
New York University and the Iowa Writers Workshop.
Mehta's resistance seems to be a conflation two rather different sorts of
issues. He first mentions the renaming of Bombay's streets and chowks (corners),
before he gets to the renaming of the city; he seems to be considering them as of a
piece. On the one hand, he is clinging to the place names he grew up with, out of
what might be called nostalgia. He points out that there is a significant degree of
corruption behind the street-name changes going on in Bombay. He also points out
(rightly, from my experience) that practically no one knows the names of the minor
figures who get slices of the city named after them. The names aren't being used. In
my view, this argument is a bit self-indulgent, but I don't see that he will generate a
great deal of vehement opposition. The name of the city is a different matter, and
his statements on it now seem (after hearing people's objections) a little sloppy.
Unlike Lady Laxmibai Jagmohandas Marg (which no taxi driver in Bombay is
likely to recognize), the name of a city is big enough that its official name
absolutely does matter, both to inhabitants and to others; it can't be cheekily
ignored. Further, I gather that a pretty substantial number of people actually use the
new name. In my experience, the people who are most likely to resist it are the
"English-medium" educated Indians -- who also happen constitute the bulk of my
friends and family. But I'm willing to accept that large numbers of Indians now
accept the name "Mumbai," even when speaking English. Non-Indians are forced
to accept the name by default.
New York-based writer Suketu Mehta is one of my favourite writers. I
became a fan of his writing (he also loves Hemingway and Naipaul like I do) when
I read his autobiographical account of his experiences in Mumbai (where he was
born and partly raised before his diamond trading merchant family moved to New
York), Maximum City. The book was published in 2004 and I read it shortly after I
moved to Singapore. I loved the book because it was not a chore to read; it was
like watching a Bombay film. Why was it an easy read? Mehta explains in an
interview:
... the impression readers have that Maximum City is a quick read is a false
one because it was certainly not a quick write. But it takes a lot
Hemingway taught me thisto make writing seem effortless. It took me a
long time before I learned how to write simply. My early sentences back in
the Iowa Writers Workshop were long. As Indians we tend to like longer
sentences.

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Similarly, Mehta's liminality allows him to cross many boundaries and


achieve his literary objective.Using his various identitieshis languages, his
knowledge of the city, his status as a noted NewYork journalisthe enjoys
privileged access to the deepest, darkest parts of Bombay. And what starts as an
account of his struggles to set up a home base in Bombay rapidly becomes a
portrait of a city in civic and moral collapse
Mehtas

book has the silent intrusiveness, the busyness and ubiquity, the
voraciousness of a book of pictures, as well as the largesse that prose gives. But he
doesnt stand at the crossroads at which Singh found himself when confronted with
Bombay. The shift has already occurred, and we are in a new world with Maximum
City: the book is a giant embrace not only of a city but of hope and its more
complex, earthly incarnation, desire in the age of the free market. It performs this
embrace brilliantly and passionately. It is not, really, a nostalgic book, in spite of
all it says about loss, displacement and the act of returning; its elegiac notes are its
most strained. It has the hard-headed exuberance of a 19th-century novel, a
fascination with the spirit of compromise and with survival skills, a complete
understanding of the importance of the mercantile and the pecuniary. All this it
engages with not by examining the lives of major industrialists, as it might have,
but by looking at low-life the dancing girls in bars, the whores and transsexuals,
the hit-men, the lowly cadres in political parties who do the dirty work during riots.
Like the elephant-headed Ganesh, who transcribed the Mahabharata as the sage
composed it aloud, Mehta sits uncomfortably close to garrulous hit-men, typing
their memories and impressions of murder into his laptop.
Shauna Singh Baldwin
Shauna Singh Baldwin is also the diasporic Indo-Canadian writer. She was
born in 1962 in Montreal. Canada. In 1972, she moved to India where she attended
school and college in Delhi. She married an Irish American, David Baldwin. Her
novel What the Body Remembers is set between 1937 and 1947 in undivided
Punjab, chronically the last decade of
What The Body Remembers (1999) is Shauna Singh Baldwins first novel, it
is an award winning one and was adjudged the Best book in the Canada and
Canadian region of the Commonwealth writers prize. The novelist is a diasporic
writer. However, her initial creative efforts ended up in a partition novel. It may
here be mentioned in passing that the partition became the focus of a number of
novels in Indian Literature and Indian English Literature soon after the tragic
aftermath of the achievement of Independence
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Baldwin lives and works in Canada and made a spectacular debut as a


novelist with What the Body Remembers (1999). This novel describes the changes
and personal growth of a Sikh woman against Shauna Singh the backdrop of the
horrors of the Partition of Pakistan and India. The Sikh community was more or
less crushed between the interest of the Hindu and the Muslim communities. Many
fled the Punjab or were killed in the violent aftermath of the Partition. Roop is a
Punjabi girl from a village who is married to a wealthy Punjabi landowner so as to
produce the offspring his first wife could not deliver. Her husband has been
educated in England but is still wrapped up in the traditional responsibilities of
Punjabi landownership. He attempts at all costs to establish a just division of land
for the Sikh villagers. His struggles are futile and when the riots start, he sends
Roop and her children away to Delhi. He follows later on the infamous trains from
Pakistan on which many refugees are killed. The story of the novel follows Roops
childhood in the village, where she develops into a self-conscious and independent
child, and her later life, as she learns to survive in the traditional world of her
husbands household. Identity plays an important part in the story but is never
depicted as a singular notion. The characters are developed from the point of view
of their struggle to cope with different roles and identities which are cast upon
them by tradition and modernity. Baldwin shows, in Roop, to what extent gender
and economic dependency define identity in both the traditional village and in her
husbands family. Although social constraints and the political situation determine
the events in this novel, the author also suggests that there is a deeper sense of
individual identity. It is expressed in the way Roop and her husbands first wife
Satya deal with the role they are given. They develop a form of inner determination
and will for freedom and survival that gives them the strength to endure all kinds
of hardship. Again, identity appears as complex and with many dimensions. The
same goes for the perspective from which the book was written; Baldwin was born
in India but has lived in Canada almost her whole life. She paints a very detailed
and historically accurate picture of the cultural traditions and modern history of the
Sikh community. The historical detail enriches the novel, but it also adds to a
dialogic quality to the representation, reflecting different aspects of the authors
own identity.
The novel gives a very personal inward view of the situation before the
partition. Roop meets Huma, her childhood friend and now the wife of Rai Alam
Khan, who expreses her staunch Islamic views about the formation of Pakistan.
She said, Wherever there is a Muslim village, there is Pakistan. On being asked
where Pari Darwaza will go, she said that it was a Muslim village and would go to
Pakistan. Roop asked her status and she said that Sikhs were not Hindus but they
didnt even join the Muslims in celebration of the festivities. Through these
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incidents Baldwin captures the prejudices against the Sikh and thus justifies the
bitterness evident in the Sikh community. She shows how Sardarji gets changed
from a liberal person to a staunch Sikh who not only contributes to the Akali party
but also participates in its activities. Sardarji is portrayed as a representative of all
Sikhs who suffered from a deep sense of loss because they had lost the land where
their religion had started and where there gurus had lived. Thus the novel is a
record of the freedom struggle, its important events and partition. It is the first
novel in English written by a diaspora writer on the issues of Partition and the
freedom struggle.
Baldwin is a Canadian citizen living far away from India and, therefore, she
did not have access to the Indian newspapers and books. She candidly admits in the
interview:
I have kept political events in their historical place. Many readers get their
historical place. Many readers get their history from novels, or at least their
first introduction to a period, so I want you to feel you can trust my dates,
names of politicians and policies. However, heres where the distinction
between a diasporic writer and an Indian writer becomes relevant my
research material did not include a newspaper article of the time, but relied
solely on secondary literature and oral interviews; so where I quote
newspaper saying The Statesman said its poetic license (Internet
Interview).
Baldwin provides a factual as well as fictional presentation of what
happened during the time of partition. In an interview, on being asked the question:
What The Body Remembers primarily covers the turbulent years between
1937 and 1947, when the partition occurred. The partition of India is a subject that
one rarely reads about. Why do you think more Indian and diasporic writers
havent written about those years?
She made the following observation:
My writing seems to rise from a sense that there is something missing, a
subject, a story or an area that has received too little attention, and What The
Body Remembers rose from that same dissatisfaction. The partition of India
in 1947 into India, East Pakistan and West Pakistan has received academic
attention, but you can count the number of novels in English about it on the
fingers off one hand (Internet Interview).
Baldwin wanted to write about the community, which was deeply hurt
because of the Partition. The novel deal with the events of freedom struggle and
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details of the atrocities committed during the pre Partition time. She was not
present at the scene at the tragic event but she has tried her best to portray the time,
facts and details of the background. She herself sats:
The problem any academic or artist has in describing partition, is that the
stories of 17 million displaced people came to one side of the Indo pak
border while the setting was left on the other. Only cross border
collaborations and the third country, nationals can affect research in both
India and Pakistan. I traveled with my husband in Pakistan to research the
setting with interview appointments set up by generous cyberfriends in
Pakistan. Everywhere I was conscious that all trace of more than 4 million
Sikhs who once lived there is gone, a result of the events of 1947 that would
today be described by the dubious term ethnic cleansing. A mere 1000 Sikhs
live in Pakistan today conversely, in Pakistan I found that those who were
kindest in showing us around, and who certainly had no reason to be kind to
a Sikh writer asking personal questions, were Muslim refugees displayed by
Sikhs and Hindus during the partition, driven over the border and who still,
after more than 50 years, find themselves living as second class citizens in
Pakistan today (Internet Interview).
The themes of adaptability and the search for identity resonate throughout
the text. In "Nothing Must Spoil this Visit" a mother explains her choice in a wife
for her son, "After all, I chose her because I saw from the start she would be an
adjustable woman" (121). As the mother suggests, a "modern" woman requires
adaptability to maintain her family's reputation through drastic cultural changes. In
"Rawalpindi 1919," a mother ponders the changes they will need to make to their
home when her son returns from studying in England. She imagines her son will
expect chairs to sit on, not cushions, and plates to eat from, not thalis. The mother
recognizes and decides to accept these changes.
Devika illustrates one woman's fight to adapt from life in India to life in
Canada. In this story, Baldwin depicts how integral family is to a woman's identity.
Without a complex family network, Devika struggles to adapt to Canadian life:
"She wanted her mother, her father, and at least twenty solicitous relatives telling
her what to do, how to do it, how to live, how to be good, how to be loved. "
Without this complex family structure, Devika must improvise to develop her
identity. Ultimately, it is unclear whether she fails or succeeds to do so by creating
her alter ego, Asha. Asha with her foreign cigarettes and leather mini skirt is
strong-willed and provocative. She represents the Western wife that Devika's
husband encourages her to become.
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Devika is a proper, modest, respectful woman; she embodies the


traditionally valued qualities of an Indian woman. Baldwin acknowledges the
individuality of her characters through her varied writing styles. Devika,
unassertive in her own identity, is presented in the third person narrative point of
view. Baldwin seems to suggest that Devika cannot say I. In contrast, The Cat
Who Cried is written in the first person, and its protagonist has a strong "etween
washing her husband's turbans and mentally conversing with him.
Languages our families brought from the old country, and that welled up
from this land, whisper in the rhythms of our stories. Will you stumble or glide
with this tool youve received, this English language so filled with biblical
references, colonial constructs, and publishing conventions? Shauna discusses a
few steps you can take to show the beauty and pathos of characters moving to
unheard music.

Jhumpa Lahiri
Through her writing Jhumpa Lahiri has occupied a remarkable position in
the diaspora writers. Her immigrant protagonists or second generation Indian
American, searching for a way to fit into the community while still maintaining
their individuality. Her characters who are born and raised in the alien culture are
pushing and pulling between old tradition demands and new world demands of
contemporary living and relationships. In Lahiris fiction Indian roots and
American life provides reader a mixing of two cultural representing distinct
cultures.
This paper is an attempt to look at the contribution of Indian writer in
English not only to the Indian diaspora but also to the world at large. Writing is
attempts to make identity, to reconstruct through inter - subjectivity, men and
women seek to redefine and relocate their identity in a new culture.
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Expatriate writing has flourished so much that it occupied a significant


position in the Indian English Literature. Jhumpa Lahiri (1967 - ) a Pulitzer winner
diaspora writer. Jhumpa has never been an Indian by citizenship though most of
the Indian fiction writers writing in English are born and brought up in India.
However, her connectivity with India and Indian people is borrowed from her
grandparents. Her stories always deal with the shifting line between gender,
sexuality and social status within Diaspora. It also portrays the love and identity
among immigrants in a new land.
They become other which is a result of diasporic consciousness. Salman
Rushdie in an essay in 1983 thus wrote about expatriates:
Exiles or emigrants are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to
reclaim, to look back, even at the risk of being mutated into pillars of
salt. But if we do look back, we must also do so in the knowledge - which
gives rise to profound uncertainties that our physical alienation from
India almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming
precisely the thing that was lost; that we will, in short create fictions, not
actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias
of mind.
Nilanjana Sudeshna Lahiri was born in London in 1967. Her parents were
first generation Bengali immigrants from Calcutta. They lived in England for
the first two years of Jhumpas life before travelling to America and finally
settling in Rhode Island. Her father got a position in the library at the University
of Rhode Island, whilst her mother has worked as a schoolteacher. Being an
older sibling is a perspective that she shares with several of the protagonists she
has constructed, and being the child of first generation immigrants on the East
Coast is a description that fits most of her protagonists. Although they have
lived in the United States for more than thirty years, Lahiri observes that her
parents retain a sense of emotional exile and Lahiri herself grew up with
conflicting expectationsto be Indian by Indians and American by
Americans. Through her writings she tries to convey the oldest cultural
conflicts in the manner to achieve the voices of many different characters are
among the unique qualities that have captured the attention of international
audience.
While reading her fiction, she draws her on her own experiences. This is
the case not only when it comes to her parental family, but also with her own
marriage. She is married to Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, the deputy editor of the
Latin American edition of Time. Together they have a son, Octavio, and a
daughter, Noor, two names that indicate their different ethnic identities. Several
116

of Lahiris protagonists in Unaccustomed Earth have married outside their


ethnic community and have young children who in varying degrees are brought
up with Indian names and within Indian traditions, and thus her characters, to a
certain extent, mirror the authors family life.
Lahiri excelled in school and was a keen writer already at the age of
seven. She graduated from the prestigious Barnard College with a Bachelors
degree in English Literature, and went on to achieve three Masters degrees and
a PhD at Boston University. During her graduate studies she developed her
ambition of becoming a writer, rather than continue in the pursuit of a scholarly
career. She began publishing some of the stories that would eventually end up
in her first collection of short stories. These stories were printed in periodicals
such as The New Yorker, which created some anticipation surrounding her first
publication. Interpreter of Maladies was published in 1999 and became a
favourite amongst readers and critics alike. She has won several literary awards,
most notably the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for best American work of fiction.
The book also went on to become a best seller. Her follow-up came four years
later, and instead of a new collection of short stories, she published a novel: The
Namesake. This was also largely successful, although more disputed by critics
than her debut collection. Lahiris second collection of short stories,
Unaccustomed Earth, was released in 2008 and met with favourable reviews
and quickly became a bestseller. That same year it was awarded the Frank
OConnor International Short Story award, the worlds largest prize for a short
story collection and was a finalist for the Story Prize, meaning that Lahiri has
followed up the successes of her first two publications. She contributed the
essay on Rhode Island in the 2008 book State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of
America. In 2013 Lahiri wrote her second novel The Lowwland it is one of the
most ambitious work undertaken by the writer, its a moving family story. It
won the DSC award for south Asian fiction, and was a finalist for both the Man
Booker prize and the National Book Award in fiction.
In her first novel Lahiri favors a male doctoral student who will end up
making a career in the U.S. Her female cleaves to tradition, wears saris, whips
up delicious curries with minimal equipment and ingredients. Together they
accept life in America without compromising their origins. They take the best
this country has to offer immigrants education, material comfort and live here
making do with those benefits. In Lahiris fiction Indian roots and American
life provides reader a mixing of two cultural representing distinct cultures. As
Edward Said writes in Cultural and Imperialism (1993):
Culture is a concept that includes a refining and elevating element, each
societys reservoir of the best that has been known and thought, as
117

Matthew Arnold put it in the 1860s. Arnold believed that culture


palliates, if it does not altogether neutralize, the ravages of a modern,
aggressive, mercantile and brutalizing urban experience . In time
culture comes to be associated, often aggressively, with the nation or the
state; this differentiates usfrom them, almost always with some degree
of xenophobia. Culture in this sense is a source of identity, and a rather
combative one at that. (xiii).
The Namasake (2003), has shown how an intellect that is sharp enough to
perceive, filter and shape anew can transfer the disturbing diasporic experience
into the subtle allegories of the larger, inclusive post modern condition of our
times. A discourse to be discussed their marginality, identity search and
ideological impact of the existing societies and their relationships both socially
and personally. Lahiri creations does it successfully.
Lahiri through Ashima, portrays the first generation of immigrants and
elaborately meditates on their state of solitude. Loneliness is the crowning
effect of the novel. Ashima, while arriving at Cambridge, could not get herself
psychologically settled down in that place, especially when she is pregnant.
Lahiri describes her state:
But nothing feels normal to Ashima. For the past eighteen months, ever
since she has arrived in the Cambridge, nothing has felt normal at all. It is not
so much the pain, which she knows, somewhere, she will survive... (2003 5-6).
The Gangulis, named their son Gogol after the 19th century Russian
writer. Gogol, who finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name
rechristens himself as Nikhil. As Nikhil he begins his new career in New York
which brings him in contact with Maxine Ratliff and her ultra hip WASP
parents Gerald and Lydia. Later, he meets Moushumi Mazoomdar, the girl
whom his mother desperately wants him to marry and who deceives him after
the marriage for an old crush Damitri. Thus, Gogol ends up in the novel with
loneliness, even his mother Ashima and then their seeking for refuge in their
roots. Lahiri tries to reconcile the odds between two opposing cultures.
In The Namasake Lahiri has given emigration experience through two
generations of the Gangulis. Ashok, who arrives in Massachusetts from India in
1960s, and Ashima, his wife through an arranged marriage. The problems
Ashima faced as a newly married and then pregnant young woman in an alien
land without the help of any Indian traditional system. The second generation
Gogol Ganguli and his sister Sonia migrating to America. As Gogol grows up,
he and Sonia are periodically taken on trips to India; the two children are
looking at the Indian setting with eyes of American children. The American
118

environment made them indifferent towards the moral values which their
parents adhered to Gogol, considers his parents inferior to other Americans. He
wants to get rid of his name, wanted to run away from Bengali culture.
Moreover, Gogol and Sonias dislike for pujas and their eager waiting for
Christmas is an impact of America on Indian emigrants.
Moushumi secretly study French and her sexual liaisons with unknown
people in Paris are all attempts to give up her Indian values and transform
herself according to American cultural. Sonia also loves to remain all by herself
and she even advises her mother of the pleasures of living alone.
The American accent adoption by Gogol, Sonia and Moushumi further
created a difference between the children and their parents. Lahiris novel
depicts how these characters are created as the marginalized mimics of
centralized Americans, and supports Bhabhas notion of mimicry.
All this is very close to Lahiris own life as she tells Alden Mudge in an
Interview in the Bookpage: a lot of the novel rose out of my experience of
growing up and while The Namasake is not explicitly autobiographical, it
strikes pretty closely to the way I was raised.
The Namasake is a story of coming to terms with ones identity and
origin. It is also Lahiris own fine understanding of the diasporic life, believe in
some sort of holism of the psyche and experience.
The Lowland (2013) is about two growing up brothers Udayan and
Subhash, living in calcutta in the late 1950s, sneaking over the wall of a posh
golf club built along a sewer canal in the largely Muslim town of Tollygunge.
Udayan, the younger son, was blind to self constraints, like an animal
incapable of perceiving certain colors. But Subhash strove to minimize his
existence, as other animals merged with bark or blades of grass. Thus they are
just opposite of one another.
Naxalbari, a poor town about 400 miles away from Tollygunge,
where communist radicals begin in a forceful way to oppose police and wealthy
landowners. Udayan, who has a political passion, whos shocked by the poverty
in his country and the authorities brutal use of force. Soon he joins a local
group of agitators in committing acts of terror. Subhash tells his brother: Its
not my place to object (2013) Moreover, he leaves home to study Marine
Chemistry in a quiet, coastal corner of America, paying no response to his
brothers plea. He was no longer in Tollygunge, Lahiri writes. He had
stepped out of it as he had stepped so many mornings out of dreams, its reality
and its particular logic rendered meaningless in the light of day. The
119

fundamental difference in personality traits made the youngmen go off different


directions, colleges, friends, radical values and aim in life.
When Subhash hears what happened to her brother in the Lowland
outside their familys house, he came back to India, in the hope to heal the
wounds left behind by his brother and to pick up the pieces of a shattered
family, including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife. The parents
move like zombies. Subhash comes back home for a few weeks and without
planning suddenly marries Gauri, a woman he doesnt know. Back in their
apartment in Rhode Island, the newlyweds hoard their secrets and regard each
other as polite roommates, moving about in that formal feeling.Gauri is
terrified that she felt so entwined and also so alone, but that fear expresses
itself only in the blank expression she wears throughout this novel.
The Lowland presents the confusion about America cultural, the sense of
loneliness and nostalgia. Gauri too was trapped in her own impenetrable
depression. Even after the birth of her daughter Bela, whom Gauri cannot love
makes her only more aware of her own misery. Isolation makes her spend more
time in studying Philosophy; however, the worlds accumulated wisdom never
offers her any solace or insight.
Subhash married Gauri in the hopes that he is doing his duty toward his
dead brother, a man who shot by police for his involvement a radical
communist group. Gauri, who carries her late husbands child, was never cared
by her in laws. The marriage seems an act of kindness, saves her from a life of
domestic persecution.
Gauri knows from the beginning that she will never love her new
husband. So she willingly trample on the life that tradition and custom demand.
Without fear, she strikes out to live on her own terms, in an American notion.
Lahiri draws a woman who seems to care little or not at all for those close to
her, making a life of her own alone. She yearns for independence, progressively
cuts herself off from Subhash and Bela. As Bela prepares to begin seventh
grade, Gauri completely dumps them, leaving husband and child shocked,
angry, bereft, broken.
Certainly near the end, when Subhash and Gauri and their daughter
finally start to confront one another and their festering secrets, the story regains
its earlier emotional power. The final scene a flashback to the tragedy that has
controlled the orbit of their lives for decades is devastating, a repudiation of the
happy mythology of immigration. The passage of decades, the distance of
thousands of miles, the adoption of a new home, nothing can keep certain
process, they drift away from each other too.
120

Bela becomes something of a nomad, wandering the country, surviving


job to job. Subhash lingers on the edges of her life, providing unacknowledged
support, the promise of home that Bela needs every now and then. Subhash
hopes that Bela will someday let him back into her lifeeven as he wonders if
she actually has one. In the end, ironically, the one important detail that
Subhash always feared would break them the knowledge that he is not Belas
real father brings them back together. They eternally seal their bonda bond
that firmly locks Gauri out of their lives forever.
Jhumpa Lahiris characters often face the challenges of exile, the
loneliness, the constant sense of alienation and even longing for a lost world.
Immigrant children often feel that there is no one place tht they completely
belong to. This seems not only the story of Lahiris but also her characters
Gogol, Sonia, Gauri and Bela. Thus what is exile for their parents is an elixir of
life for these children.
Women writers are not marginalized anymore, this is related to change in
the society, with women becoming more independent and therefore writing
about their experiences. In English Fiction Lahiri occupies a previliged place
between two countries and culture, through her characters she depicts
contemporary incidents and experiences of two cultures. Her writings can be
seen as the working out of the dualities of her loyalties and affiliation.


Kiran Desai
Kiran Desai a daughter of noted Indian diaspora English author, Anita Desai,
is the author of two novels, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, (1998) and The
Inheritance of Loss (2006) and awardee of Man Booker Prize of 2006. Since her
teens she has been living outside India. The setting of the Inheritance of Loss is the
North Eastern Himalayas and Kalimpong. (Nepal Gorkha Land). It was part of
India, but now is independent.
Her first novel Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (1998), received high
commendations from notable figures like Salman Rushdie; later it also won Betty
Trask Award, a prize given by the Society of Authors for the best novels by the
citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations under the age of 35.

121

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard is Kiran Desai's first book, published in


1998. The novel chronicles the robust, yet spiritual relationship between man and
his closest relatives from the animal kingdom, the monkey, securing both to a lofty
place juxtaposed between modern India and old traditional practices. Home to
many religious groups, including Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs,
India has been used as a platform to combine the elements of traditions and history
while figuratively meandering through a trail of fantasy and realism.
The novel is slow to get into but soon catapults us into a world in which a
young Indian man, Sanpath, has lost his mind, climbs a guava tree to escape from
the world of men, and then finds himself worshiped by the people of his village,
and even by the local monkeys, as a prophet. Indeed, his oracular pronouncements
-- ''Is your jewelry still safely buried beneath the tulsi plant?'' -- owe their seeming
brilliance to his having been a low-level civil servant. In his boredom at his job as
a postal clerk, he has opened a letter or two and learned some of the secrets of the
townspeople.
But after a while, these insights cease to matter: muttering ambiguous
phrases, Sanpath is indeed an idiot savant, descended from a long line of
eccentrics, not the least of whom is a mother obsessed with food and intent on
fanciful new dishes that no one has ever imagined: '' 'Cumin, quail, mustard seeds,
pomelo rind,' she muttered as she cooked. 'Fennel, coriander, sour mango. . . .
Colocasia leaves, custard apple, winter melon, bitter gourd.' ''
Into this concoction, Desai drops her characters like juicy morsels: a father
who makes an industry out of his son's lunacy -- setting up a tea stall for tourists
and churning out posters, fliers and newspaper articles; a sister, who bites off the
ear of an ice-cream boy to declare her passion for him; the boy himself, who plans
to elope with his impassioned suitor, but almost gives in to a girl, as plump as a
birthday cake, whom his family has arranged for him to marry. There is Sanpath's
grandmother, whose dentures -- ''better that they are a little loose than a little tight''
-- end up glaring at her from a chocolate ice-cream cone. And some of India's
police and military officers are intent on ridding the town of Sanpath's monkey
bodyguards, who have taken to robbing shops and people of their liquor in drunken
orgies much like those of their evolutionary betters.
It's a parable, an allegory, a bitter-sweet reminder of the chaos of India -- its
layers of history, religion, superstition, colonialism and fanaticism that have led to
the death of three Gandhis. In the end, though, the author doesn't quite know what
to do with her heady epic, which keeps unfolding with new levels of intensity and
ineluctability. So she puts Sanpath to sleep as a guava, held in the palm of the

122

leader of the monkeys, who lands not so quietly in a vat of broth, trapped and
stewed by Sanpath's mother.
Still, Desai creates a whole tableau -- like a medieval tapestry in which all
the people and animals start moving and speaking -- affectionately describing a
village atmosphere and the familial relationships within it. Finally one remembers
neither the plot nor the hand that created it, but the characters who might one day
appear at your dinner table, halfway between life and fiction, with many more
stories to tell.
The hero of The Inheritanceof Loss is caught into the dilemma of his being
Indian and American. That is the common theme of all diasporic writing. He is an
illegal Indian expatriate in USA, works as a cook in a restaurant and gets detached
from his family. By listening the Indian words like Namaste, Kusum Auntie he
is delighted and links himself to India. Abused by the Americans, the homesick
hero, alienated, rootless, and homeless in New York, returns to his
homeland.
The Inheritance of loss (2006) moves back and forth from the Himalayas to
Manhattan just like the author, in fact. However rediscovering her Indian ness
was vital to her success, she tells Laura Barton (Guardian, Thursday, Oct 12,
2006). However, she still holds on her Indian passport, struggling to get American
citizenship; increasingly she, too, is unsure that she would really want to surrender
her Indian citizenship. In an interview she reacted, I feel less like doing it every
year because I realize that I see everything through the lens of being Indian. It is
not something that has gone away it is something that has become stronger. As I
have got older, I have realized that I cant really write without that perspective
(Wikipedia/ Kiran Desai). When she began writing about the immigrant experience
in New York that she realized she would have to return to India. Nevertheless, she
finds that India has changed; it belongs to the Indian author living in India. The
subjects belong to them. She goes back to the India of the 1980s, when she had
left. It is this feeling of being caught between two continents that infuses The
Inheritance of loss. Sometimes it appears to rejoice in the intermingling of
cultures; at others, it seems to inspire a wistful melancholy.

The Inheritance of Loss is set partly in India and partly in the USA. Desai
describes it as a book that tries to capture what it means to live between East and
West and what it means to be an immigrant, and goes on to say that it also
explores at a deeper level, what happens when a Western element is introduced
into a country that is not of the West -which happened during the British colonial
days in India, and is happening again with India's new relationship with the
123

States."Her third aim wasto write about, "What happens when you take people
from a poor country and place them in a wealthy one. How does the imbalance
between these two worlds change a persons thinking and feeling? How do these
changes manifest themselves in a personal sphere, a political sphere, over time?
As she says, These are old themes that continue to be relevant in todays world,
the past informing the present, the present revealing the past.

One of the major concerns in postcolonial literature is the problem of


displacement and its consequence resulting in the loss of home. Uprooting from
ones own culture and land, and the agonies of re-routing in an alien land are
depicted in many postcolonial works. The characters in The Inheritance of Loss
often face the problem of identity and alienation, and become frustrated at the end.
Even when they come back to their own country, like the Judge in the novel, they
develop a sense of distrust and anger. They remain in a state of confusion from
which they find it difficult to come out. The Inheritance of Loss explores colonial
neurosis, multiculturalism, insurgency gender-bias, racial discrimination, and
impact of globalisation. Above all, their bitter experience of immigration problems
comes to sharper focus. The novel is a brilliant study of Indian Culture-the culture
in its transitional phase. In fact, craze for the western values, manners, language,
and glamorous life-style; impact of modernisation, consumerism, and globalisation
is manifest in all walks of Indian life. Despite political freedom, cultural slavery is
directly manifested through these characters. Consequently, they can neither
assimilate the new culture nor give up their original culture in totality.

Multiculturalism is another characteristic feature of Indian society. Most of


Desais characters belong to different cultural backgrounds. She maintains
convivial attitude to all cultures and mildly exposes the vanity and hypocrisy
embedded in their attitude to life. Immigration problem is one of the most striking
problems. Most of the Indians and Third World Citizens face such problems in
Europe and America. Biju, Saeed, Harish Harry, Saran, Jeev, Rishi, Mr.Lalkaka,
and thousands of Africans, Latin Americans and Asians working in American and
Europe experience the bitter struggle of the immigrants. In fact, Kiran Desai has a
passion for reforming the system to dispel the hardships of the migrant people. It is
significant that the description of nature and landscape occupies a large chunk of
the novel. It extends from Manhattan to the Himalayas; it is central to Piphit,
Kalimpong, Cho Oyu, and the beauty of Darjeeling. Kanchenjungas majestic
peaks symbolically present the pinnacle of her vision. Kiran Desais love of
landscapes of India speaks of her fine aesthetic sensibility.
124

Conclusion
Migrant, immigrant, intercultural or multicultural literature is considered to
be a different category of literature by writers who write from a perspective of two
cultures, national identities, or languages. It has been an area of continuous writing
and research all worldwide, especially among the people of privileged class. It is a
process of moving from one place to another in search of education, job, research
and green pasture. Marriage, especially, in the case of woman, which relocates her
to the alien land. They became marginalized people in the alien land; feel partly
alienated and isolated from it. The situations and the difficulties they face
contribute to diasporic consciousness, like search for their past, their identity,
125

rootlessness, homelessness, it creates a sense of nostalgia and valorization of the


native land.
We return then to the questions of what it means to feel, to be Indian. In
addition, how does diaspora mark, if not rehearse, changes in that field of
possibilities? If it makes little sense to reduce the catalysts for cultural
transformation to the most contemporary rendition of globalization, if diaspora is
embedded in the experience and representation of history, then there must be a
necessary caution exercised in seeing the futures of Indian diaspora simply through
the models of diversification and atomization widely celebrated and lamented by
popular observers. The continual additive energy, of more and more migrants in
more and more Indian communities around the world, operates in the service of
change to give a rather different cast to Indianness, to open up its definitional
boundaries, if not challenge them altogether, but we can never underestimate the
power of national feeling in a world where nations are still dominant. The
character of the grandmother in Amitav Ghoshs novel The Shadow Lines makes
that complicated sensibility vivid, when she rails against her niece who seeks to
forget India in England, in the only terms she knows: She doesnt belong there. It
took those people a long time to build that country Everyone who lives there has
earned his right to be there with blood; with their brothers blood and their fathers
blood and their sons blood. They know theyre a nation because theyve drawn
their borders with blood. Moreover, the narrator who defends his grandmother
observes: She was not a fascist All she wanted was a middle class life in
which she would thrive believing in the unity of nationhood and territory, of
self respect and national power (1988 77 -78). Ghoshs imagined dialogue about
deeply felt nationality is in the midst of a novel that ultimately shows the
impossibility of unities of nation in the world where displacement is the primary
language of living.
Ghosh has written of an epic relationship between India and her diaspora
(1989 73). I read in this term and in much of his work an emphasis on the historical
and imaginative nature of diasporic belonging. When, for instance, Ghosh travels
to Egypt as an anthropologist historian to track down the details of the life of a
twelfth century Indian slave in the book In an Antique Land (1992 134) he is
surprised to find himself received as the Indian doctor, who comes to stand in for
all the contradictory cultural and political attributes of a national Indianness:
cremation, sacralization of cows, progress, and modernity. An intellectual journey
into the tremendously hybrid and mobile cultures of the period and context in
which the Indian slave and his Tunisian Jewish merchant patron lived proceeds
alongside Ghoshs own more modern experiences of traveling in a world where
nations and their borders are very important. The historical identifications among
126

modern nations, too, are embedded in contemporary affective dimensions of social


relationships. Throughout the narrative Ghosh intimates that Indian subjects are
made by India, both by being read as Indian and experiencing the world through
that sensibility of nation, in the past and in the present.
This book is an attempt to grapple the meaning of home and belonging,
nation and identity, from the perspective of transformation of
self/identity/individuality. This aim has been tried to achieve by the creations of
Bharati Mukherjee. She has earned recognition in the English- speaking world as
feminist contemporary writer. Since she is Indian born and studied and married in
foreign land. Her literary work has been received as literary production in the
United States reflecting the immigrant experience. Mukherjees work especially
has resulted in discourses of India and her adoptive country, America, based on
Indian womens negotiations of, class, gender, religious identities and national
identity.

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