Evaluation of Postmodern Indian English Literature which refers to the works of literature after 1980 is not an easy task. It has transcended the local and transformed into global, successfully meeting the challenges of the Bhasa literatures at home and Postcolonial literature and Anglo-American literatures abroad. If Raja Rao's Kanthapura (1938) marks modernism, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981) and Nissim Ezekiel's Latter-Day Psalms (1982) mark postmodernism in Indian English Literature. The present book aims at analysing critically the Postmodern Indian English Literature genre-wise-poetry, fiction, short story, drama and autobiography, beginning from 1980 to the present-day works. Important poets, novelists, short-story writers and playwrights like Nissim Ezekiel, A.K. Ramanujan, Jayanta Mahapatra, Kamala Das, Shiv K. Kumar, Keki N. Daruwalla, Dom Moraes, Amitav Ghosh, Shashi Tharoor, Anita Desai, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Manju Kapur, Raj Kamal Jha and many others have been studied from a different perspective.
The present book is comprehensive, analytical, self-contained and easily comprehensible. It is hoped that it would prove an asset to students who seek an introduction to Postmodern Indian English Literature and would be of particular appeal to all those persons interested in the diverse contributions of Indian English writers of repute.
Bijay Kumar Das, Ph.D., D.Litt., is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia of World Literature in the 20th Century (New York). He has published a number of books and research papers on English Literature, Indian English Literature, Commonwealth Literature, Translation Studies, Subaltern Studies and Literary Criticism. His important books include: A Handbook of Translation Studies (2005), Critical Essays on Poetry (2003), The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra (2001), Critical Essays on Postcolonial Literature (2001), Shiv K. Kumar as a Postcolonial Poet (2001), The Horizon of Nissim Ezekiel's Poetry (1995) and Aspects of Commonwealth Literature (1995). He has edited three important books: Comparative Literature (1998), Perspectives on the Poetry of R. Parthasarathy (1997) and Contemporary Indo-English Poetry (1986). He co-edits a scholarly critical journal, The Critical Endeavour. Formerly, a Reader in English, Bhadrak College, Bhadrak and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, the author is at present Professor, Department of English, Burdwan University, West Bengal.
Indian English Literature has a luxuriant growth in the post-1980 period. It has an all round development unprecedented in the literary history of our country. Indian English poets and fiction writers have won world-wide acclaim during nineteen eighties and afterwards. In my book, I have made an attempt to present the literary history of Postmodern Indian English Literature critically before the readers. Since this book is a critical survey of the history of Indian English Literature in the post-1980 period, it has its shortcomings-for no book of history of literature can be perfect. But, nevertheless, I have made an effort to evaluate the trends in Indian English literature genre-wise-poetry, fiction, short story, drama and autobiography-so that, this book can serve as a book of introduction to Indian English literature from 1980 to the present-day. As usual, a bibliography has been given both by way of acknowledgment and by way of bringing to the notice of the readers the materials available in the field.
Last but not the least, I am thankful to M/s Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, particularly to Dr K.R. Gupta, its Managing Director, for bringing out the book in a record time.
To make an evaluation of Postmodern Indian English Literature is not an easy task. It raises a number of questions regarding the date and the nature of the subject under discussion. At the outset, I would like to steer clear of all controversies by putting the facts in order. That is, the nomenclature, 'Indian English Literature' has come to stay-thanks to Sahitya Akademi for accepting it and publishing M.K. Naik's seminal book, A History of Indian English Literature in 1982. It means the literature originally written in English by Indian nationals including the expatriate Indian writers. The earlier nomenclatures-"Indo-Anglian Literature," "Indian Writing in English," "Indo-English Literature," and "Indian Literature in English"-were dispensed with because of their inadequacies. So, Indian English Literature, like Oriya Literature, Bangla Literature, Tamil Literature, Hindi Literature and so on, is a valid nomenclature and should not be taken as a protean term. Some critics may argue that since Indian English Literature is a part of Post-colonial Literature (i.e., literatures written in English in former British colonies), its identity can be questioned. My answer is that if Oriya literature and Kannada literature could be considered indigenous and independent literatures despite being part of Indian Literature, then why can't we take Indian English Literature as a distinct, independent and indigenous Indian Literature despite it being a part of Post-colonial literature.
The next question is why 'Post-1980' should be a cut off period for Indian English Literature. To my mind, substantial body of Indian English Literature-be it, poetry, fiction, short-story, autobiography and drama-was written in the post-1930 era, notwithstanding the origin of poetry, fiction and short-story in the nineteenth century. It is the great trio-Mulk Raj Anand, R.K. Narayan and Raja Rao who wrote novel and stories in the nineteen thirties, and Nissim Ezekiel, Kamala Das, A.K. Ramanujan who wrote poetry in the sixties, have greatly contributed to the creation of a new literature in English in our country. Their creative effort got the critical sanction in the hands of critics like K.R.S. Iyengar, C.D. Narasimhaiah and a few others in the nineteen sixties. It is unthinkable to conceive of Indian English literature as a distinct literature without Iyengar's book, Indian Writing in English.
We can divide Indian English Literature from 1930s to the end of the 20th century into two phases: Modernist and Postmodernist, the former beginning with Raja Rao's Kanthapura (1938) and the latter beginning with Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981) and Nissim Ezekiel's Latter-Day Psalms (1982). In the Post-1980 era Indian English literature is marked by postmodernism and can be profitably analysed in terms of Post-colonial theory so assiduously built up by Gareth Griffiths, Bill Ashcroft and Helen Tiffin basing upon Edward Said's Orientalism, and Culture and Imperialism. Important poets, novelists, short-story writers and playwrights in the post-1980 period include the names of Nissim Ezekiel, A.K. Ramanujan, Jayanta Mahapatra, Kamala Das, Shiv K. Kumar, Keki N. Daruwalla, Dom Moraes, Amitav Ghosh, Shashi Tharoor, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Shashi Deshpande, Anita Desai, Vikram Seth, Vikram Chandra, Arundhati Roy, Manju Kapur, Raj Kamal Jha, Ruskin Bond, Manoj Das, Hari Kunzru and a few others. (I do not include the name of Salman Rushdie in this list, because he is not an Indian English writer, though he is of Indian origin. No doubt, he has inspired Indian English Writers in the eighties and after, and his Midnight's Children has acquired the status of a classic. Even then, technically he cannot be considered as an Indian English Writer, because he is not a citizen of our country.)
Indian English Writers in the nineteen eighties and after come under criticism for what the Bhasa literature critics call the lack of authenticity and Indian sensibility in their writings.
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