The twentieth century witnessed the English novel to discover a new form of itself in the Indian subcontinent. In a significant departure from the western tradition of the novel, Indian writers in English infused the colloquial idiom into their novels. The sonority of peasant expressions rang through their prose.
"Ah, you are a nice one, too, and three legs of a bedstead plus one makes four, does it or does it not, my daughter?" - Raja Rao, Kanthapura
They wrote the context of local cultures into their stories in sepia shades that glimmered through evening dust. The global readerly expectation was for them to convey a spirit that was their own, in a language that was not their own. And so they "Indianized" the English language to tell stories of our villages, traditions, observances, and histories to a global readership.
...People stop, stare. No one-stop and stare if one of your own beggars drop dead in street. No just step over him like he is a stone, or a dog turd and go away quickly. But when they see a white man with golden hair lying on the street, everyone stops, everyone cries, 'Hai - hai, - poor boy, call doctor, call an ambulance. What has to happen, Farrokh-Bhai?'..." - Anita Desai, Baumgartner's Bombay
Stalwarts like Agha Shahid Ali have also contributed a magnificent body of work by way of Poetry in English. Rightfully, this should warrant a separate discussion by itself and is therefore not in scope for our upcoming session.
In the upcoming session of Dialogues with Books, let us seek to understand the English Novel of the Indian Subcontinent. Let us undertake a pilgrimage to the worlds of Raja Rao, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Amitav Ghosh, VS Naipaul, Mulk Raj Anand, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, RK Narayan, Rohinton Mistry, Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Tanya James, Tanwi Nandini Islam, Mohammed Hanif, William Dalrymple, Ruskin Bond and other native, immigrant and emigrant writers of the Indian Subcontinent.
What: Dialogues with Books (English Novels of the Indian Subcontinent) When: 4 PM, Sunday, March 8, 2020 Where: Dialogues, Koramangala
Registrations will be on a first come first serve basis. Walk-ins/spot registrations will be charged 100/- extra.