Work, passion, interests and life

The future of Indian English Writing

Posted on: July 24, 2009


The spread of English in South Asia started with the beginning
of colonisation by the British. English is the only language which
has successfully binded educated Indians. Even in earlier days, great
writers like Rabindranath Tagore ( Gitanjali )and Bankim Chandra
Chattopadhyay ( Rajmohan’s wife ) have felt the necessity for an
Indian English literature to reach out to a greater number of readers.

Since then the journey has been a long one filled with several accolades
and brickbats along the way. R. K. Narayan who is widely acclaimed for
his many novels has been likened by the British press to Charles Dickens,
a rare honour for any writer. Nirad Choudhuri, V. S. Naipaul, Mulk Raj
Anand and Raja Rao and others who followed, or were contemporaries of
Narayan, have put Indian English literature on a high pedestal. Nirad
Choudhuri have been decorated with Order of the British Empire ( OBE ),
a very rare honour for any writer. And V. S. Naipaul has also bagged
several prestigious International prizes including the Nobel Prize.
Nirad Choudhuri’s  The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, Naipaul’s  A
House for Mr. Biswas
and Mulk Raj Anand’s Coolie are highly acclaimed

Spurred on by these success, more notable names emerged on the Indian
English literary firmament. Salman Rushdie is one such vaunted name
and his novel Midnight’s children  is considered by many to be the
best novel to be written in English literature in the last twenty-five
years. Almost concurrently a glut of remarkable writers like Vikram Seth, Amitav
Ghosh, Anita Desai, Khushwant Singh, Rohinton Mistry, Upamanyu Chaterjee,
Vikram Chandra, Gita Hariharan and others appeared on the scene. They came,
they saw and they conquered. One good novel followed another from most
of these authors. And they have picked up awards as well, right, left
and centre. For example, Amitav Ghosh has bagged both the prestigious
Commonwealth award and Arthur C. Clarke award for creative writing.

Nowadays more publishers are keen on printing the works of these authors
as millions of copies sell by their very names. Readers are lapping up the
works of these writers, and it’s a healthy trend.

Of late, the realistic mode of the first three decades of post-independence
writing is giving way to a non-representational, experimental, self-conscious
and optimistic literature. The real challenge the writers of today face is the
enforced homogenisation and standardisation of culture due to globalisation
and the new, easy and superficial internationalism which tempts Indian English
writers to make themselves saleable in the western market.

Starting from Independence era, celebrated Indian English poets like Sarojini
Naidu, Sri Aurobindo and later on Nissim Ezekiel, Dom Moreas, P. Nandy,
A. K. Ramanujan, J. Mahapatra and others possessed tremendous craftsmenship.
They have explored varied themes through their poetry.

And with the recent International success of Arundhuti Roy ( Booker prize for The God of Small Things ) and Jhumpa Lahiri ( her Interpreter of Maladies won the Pulitzer prize ) the world at large has suddenly woken up and taken
notice of the talent of Indian writers. And more talented writers like Kiran
Desai and Sagarika Ghosh and many others are joining the bandwagon and they
hold a lot of promise.

In conclusion, the future of Indian English writing is really good. To brush
aside the recent accolades bestowed upon the works of these award-winning writers
as a flash in the pan would be an extremely cynical view. In my view, the future
of Indian English writers appears to be rosy.



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  • Subhajit Ghosh: Your wish has been granted, and look how! Even NDA possibly didn't dream of this huge victory. Let's hope they deliver, and take the nation forward.
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