Out Of Professor Mathur S Many Articles On Different Subjects, This Book Presents A Selection From His Articles On Indian English Fiction Alone. The Papers. Indian fiction in English, like other branches of Indian English literature, . of the political novel deals not only with politics but also with the modern Indian.
Written in , this novel looks back to Delhi in the s, drawing a vivid picture of Muslims living in old Delhi during that era. Impoverished girl Roop is pleased to learn she is to become the second wife of a wealthy Sikh landowner and hopes she can become friends with his older wife, Satya.
Their relationship turns out to be far more complex than she had thought. An insightful look at modern day India, this historical book gives a lucid account of how the largest democracy in the world continues to thrive. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Try Independent Minds free for 1 month to access this feature.
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Money transfers. Health insurance. Money Deals. Terrorism became part of the fabric of this new India, in spectacular cases such as the attack on Parliament in and the coordinated attacks in Mumbai in , and in smaller bombs in markets and buses. Cities such as Mumbai were also affected by a right-wing resurgence, as frustrations over increasing economic inequality became channelled into a parochial politics that divided residents into locals and foreigners.
All are harshly critical of the violence of global capitalism, the dangers of Hindu nationalism, and the failure of the Indian state to value the lives of its marginalised people: Adivasis, Dalits, Kashmiris, women, farmers, Muslims, slum dwellers, and so on.
In Power Politics she writes:. The tiny convoy is on its way to a glittering destination somewhere near the top of the world. The other convoy just melts into the darkness and disappears.
Some in India find her too harsh, too strident, too literary for nonfiction, and too sympathetic to Naxalites and Kashmiris. Some have responded to her with venom. But it is precisely this anger that she seems to want to elicit. After the fantastic adulation of , perhaps anger seemed more real, a sign of wakefulness, the more legitimate response in a nightmarish world. Although little information about the novel has been released, its title, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, suggests a chilling social satire.
Or will it be something else? This is in line with an overall sense among Indian intellectuals and critics that the present requires a heightened vigilance, an active carving out of a space for dissent.
From this perspective, Roy marks one end of cultural production in India today. Another is represented by the many new forms of fiction that have exploded in India since The God of Small Things.
Rather we can find surprising solidarities across these ideological divides. Some of the new literature advances the ideas that Roy inaugurated in The God of Small Things , even though it is written in a non-literary style and is often commercially oriented. The protagonist Mrs Sharma, lonely because her husband is working in Dubai, starts up an affair with a man she meets on the Delhi metro.
Torn between the prudishness of society and her own sexual needs, the narration is a fascinating rumination on social hypocrisy and the work women do to fashion liveable lives for themselves. But Mrs Sharma is an individualist who wants a better life for herself and will do almost anything to achieve it. The novel thus makes a similar social critique as does Roy, but uses the language of aspiration and self-transformation to do it.
The prose is shorn of any overt political gravitas and could be read as a simple detective plot set in the everyday life of middle-class Mumbai.
Their politics are not spectacular, but folded into everyday life. But from another angle, these new books show how dissent does not need to take place in an exclusive sphere outside of the market, outside of all forms of commodification, that it might be even stronger and reach further if it reflects partial complicity in them. Indeed, The God of Small Things was not immune to its own charges of political quietism: Aijaz Ahmad, a well-known Marxist literary scholar, criticised the book for finding political awakening in the private act of a sexual encounter instead of in the public sphere, a perspective excoriated by feminists.
The lesson is that rather than policing what counts as political writing, we might accept that dissent comes in a variety of forms. It is likely that readers in the United States will not have heard of these three novels by Chauhan, Kapur, and Ambai, as increasingly Indian literature — even in English — is marketed to Indian audiences and does not rely on international sales. Authors such as Chauhan and Bhagat are not even published abroad; they explicitly write for local readers.
They are not outside the market, but occupy a different market.
They are reflections of the new India, but also offer new forms of dissent unavailable to the earlier generation. For her commitment to justice, her vision of a better India, and her tireless resistance to the commodification of writing, she will be remembered as one of the most significant authors of the twentieth century. Yet there is still a bit of that eighteen-year-old inside me, even now, who craves the joy of burrowing down into a fictional world. There is a part of me that wants the old Arundhati Roy back.
This article first appeared in Boston Review.
The God of Small Things changed all that.