Indian Lit, Part III

Maria Misra’s blog at The Guardian today completes our Indian Lit trifecta.

The English language itself is the focus of this piece:

Nationalists saw English as one of the chains that bound India to servitude and hoped that once the Raj was sent packing its language would quickly follow.


The success of Indian English literature has provoked mixed reactions. Amongst its practitioners there has been much backbiting. Some accuse others of spurning the “true” forms of Indian literary prose – the exquisite fragment, the intense short story – for the alien, but lucrative and sometimes flabby flamboyance of magic realism. In India itself a full-blown backlash grew in the form of the “nativist” or Desivad movement. Strong in western India, this school exhorted writers to embrace their own Bhasha (local) language and eschew even translation.

Obviously, Indian literature written in English is here to stay, and Misra ends with an uplifting, though unlikely thought about the side-effect of this writing:

It may also, along the way, make western readers more curious about the literature that lies behind it, and provoke publishers to commission some translations of the superb vernacular writing of 20th century India.

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