Modern South Asian Literature in English

by Paul Brians


Analyses and cultural backgrounds are offered for 15 of the most important and popular works of South Asian literature.

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November 2003


Pages 264
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/World Literature
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A recent surge of interest in South Asian culture has met with a wealth of outstanding novels by Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan authors. Increasing numbers of readers are aware of and drawn to such writers as Salman Rushdie, Bharati Mukherjee, and Arundati Roy, who regularly appear bestseller lists, win prestigious fiction awards, and are added to suggested classroom readings. This book is an ideal introduction for the student, educator, or general interested reader wishing to explore and appreciate the rich and varied worlds of South Asian literature for the first time.

Each of the book's 15 chapters introduces readers to a significant Indian, Pakistani, or Sri Lankan writer. A brief biographical background focuses on the elements most relevant to the understanding of his or her fiction. A concise overview of the author's major works is provided, while the bulk of the chapter is devoted to the explication of a single work. Critical perspectives are offered, as well as background information enabling readers to view each work as window to South Asian culture.

The works are presented in chronological order, beginning with Tagore's 1915 masterpiece Quartet and concluding with the recent bestseller The Death of Vishnu (2001) by Manil Suri. While each chapter can be enjoyed on its own, the volume is structured to trace the development of post-colonial fiction, situating the works against the historical and cultural elements that shape them. Works were selected for being the most representative of each author's output, or to present the works that are most likely to be interesting and accessible to the uninitiated reader. For this reason, short stories by Rushdie and Anita Desai are discussed instead of than their more famous novels.

This book presents a balance between historical and modern settings, divergent religious and political perspectives, a broad selection of authors and settings of geographic diversity, and a wide range of literary techniques. Readers of many backgrounds will enjoy reading about these authors, their works, and the cultural elements that make these works so fascinating. A glossary of foreign terms and further suggested readings complete the book.

Table of Contents

IntroductionQuartet (1915) by Rabindranath TagoreKanthapura (1938) by Raja RaoTrain to Pakistan (1956) by Khushwant SinghThe Guide (1958) by R. K. NarayanSunlight on a Broken Column (1961) by Attia HosainTwilight in Delhi (1978) by Anita DesaiCracking India (1988) by Bapsi SidhwaJasmine (1989) by Bharati MukherjeeEast, West (1994) by Salman RushdieFunny Boy (1994) by Shyam SelvaduraiA Fine Balance (1995) by Rohinton MistryThe God of Small Things (1997) by Arundhati RoyAnil's Ghost (2000) by Michael OndaatjeInterpreter of Maladies (2000) by Jhumpa LahiriThe Death of Vishnu (2001) by Manil SuriGlossary



Recommended. High school students; lower- and upper-division undergraduates; and general readers.—Choice

[A] welcome guidebook for anyone approaching the writings within the field... a very useful tool even for someone who is not a beginner in the field.—Contemporary South Asia

This encyclopedia is a reservoir of literary references for students, academicians, and readers who want to explore the delightful richness of South Asian English literature.—Multicultural Review

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