The Contemporary Indian Novel

RATIONALE

Embedded in the title of this minor field are many of the questions that I wish to pose in my reading of the texts below. No study entitled "The Contemporary Indian Novel" can escape the vexed question of its geographic construction. To what extent can any of these novels be described as "Indian"? According to Amit Chaudhuri, the "Indian" novel is necessarily written in English. He writes that the qualificatory "in English" is unnecessary, as it is absurd to assume that any work in Kannada or Bengali might also be in some way "Indian"-they do not claim to participate in the fiction of the "postcolonial totality called India". In some way, the titles I have chosen do indeed participate in a fiction called India, simply because they have been associated with a body of fiction known, even in Chaudhuri's Picador anthology, as Indian Literature. Much less clear is their relationship to a "postcolonial totality". If postcolonial is in this case to mean postnational or supranational, then indeed the writers below are a part of the construction of something that is postcolonial. The nature of this postcolonial, and its relationship to a totality called India, is at the heart of the questions I wish to ask of the body of literature represented below.

In the course of my reading I wish to investigate the complex ways in which a group of texts constitutes a transnational body of literature that speaks from sites both within and outside of a greater "India" and yet has come to bear the burden of representing something called India-usually defined in relation to British India-to the English-speaking world. Does the work of these writers-from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and their emigrant communities-constitute itself as a body of Indian literature? To what extent is it a literature of a transnational Indian community? In effect, I wish to read these novels to understand if or how they constitute a transnational Indian subject for an Anglophone reading audience.


PRIMARY READINGS

Chaudhuri, Amit
— Afternoon Raag
— A New World
Desai, Anita
— Clear Light of Day
— Fasting, Feasting
Ghosh, Amitay
— In an Antique Land
Kureishi, Hanif
— The Buddha of Suburbia
— Gabriel's Gift
— Intimacy
Mistry, Rohinton
— A Fine Balance
— Family Matters
— Such a Long Journey
Mukherjee, Bharati
— Desirable Daughters
— Jasmine
Naipaul, V.S.
— A House for Mr. Biswas
— The Enigma of Arrival
Ondaatje, Michael
— Anil's Ghost
— The English Patient
Roy, Arundhati.
— The God of Small Things
Rushdie, Salman
— Haroun and the Sea of Stories
— Midnight's Children
— The Moor's Last Sigh
— The Satanic Verses
— Shame
Seth, Vikram
— An Equal Music
— The Golden Gate
Suri, Manil
— The Death of Vishnu