In recent years American readers have been thrilling to the work of such Indian writers as Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth. Now this extravagant and wonderfully discerning anthology unfurls the full diversity of Indian literature from the 1850s to the present, presenting today’s brightest talents in the company of their distinguished forbearers and likely heirs.
The thirty-eight authors collected by novelist Amit Chaudhuri write not only in English but also in Hindi, Bengali, and Urdu. They include Rabindranath Tagore, arguably the first international literary celebrity, chronicling the wistful relationship between a village postal inspector and a servant girl, and Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee, represented by an excerpt from his classic novel about an impoverished Bengali childhood, Pather Panchali. Here, too, are selections from Nirad C. Chaudhuri’s Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, R. K. Narayan’s The English Teacher, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children alongside a high-spirited nonsense tale, a drily funny account of a pre-Partition Muslim girlhood, and a Bombay policier as gripping as anything by Ed McBain. Never before has so much of the subcontinent’s writing been made available in a single volume.
“A very lucid and engaging selection that, for the first time, sets the quite extraordinary phenomenon of Indian writing . . . in clear context.” —The Spectator
Table of Contents
The Bengal Renaissance and After
Michael Madhasudan Dutt, from 'The Anglo Saxon and the Hindu' and Two Letters
Bankimchandra Chatterjee, 'A Popular Literature for Bengal,' 'The Confession of a Young Bengal' and from Rajani
Rabindranath Tagore, 'The Postmaster,' Five Letters, An Essay on Nursery Rhymes, and from the Introduction to Thakurmar Jhuli
Sukumar Ray, 'A Topsy-Turvy Tale'
Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee, from Pather Panchali
Parashuram (Rajshekhar Basu), 'Blue Star,' and 'The Jackal-Faced Tongs'
Buddhadev Bose, from Tithidore and from An Acre of Green Grass: A Review of Modern Bengali Literature
Mahashweta Devi, 'Arjun'
Premchand (Dhanpat Rai), 'The Chess Players'
Nirmal Verma, 'Terminal'
Krishna Sobti, from Ai Ladki
Sadat Hasan Manto, 'Peerun,' and 'The Black Shalwar'
Qurratulain Hyder, 'Memories of an Indian Childhood'
Naiyer Masud, 'Sheesha Ghat'
U.R. Anantha Murthy, 'A Horse for the Sun'
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, 'Walls'
O.V. Vijayan, 'The Rocks'
Ambai (C.S. Lakshmi), 'Gifts'
Pages from Autobiographies
Fakir Mohan Senapati, from Story of My Life
Nirad C. Chaudhuri, from The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian
Aubrey Nenen, from Dead Man in the Silver Market
Pankaj Mishra, "Edmund Wilson in Benares'
R.K. Narayan, from The English Teacher
Raja Rao, from The Serpent and the Rope
Ruskin Bond, 'The Night Train at Deoli'
A.K. Ramanujan, 'Is There an Indian Way of Thinking? An Informal Essay'
Dom Moraes, from Answered by Flutes
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, from 'The Emperor Has No Clothes'
Adil Jussawalla, 'Make Mine Movies'
Salman Rushdie, from Midnight's Children
Vikram Seth, from The Golden Gate
Amitav Ghosh, 'Tibetan Dinner' and 'Four Corners'
Upamanyu Chatterjee, from English, August: An Indian Story
Vikram Chandra, 'Siege in Kailashpada,' from a novel in progress
Sunetra Gupta, from Memories of Rain
Aamer Hussein, 'The Colour of a Loved Person's Eyes'
Ashok Banker, from Vertigo
Rohit Manchanda, from In the Light of the Black Sun
Amit Chadhuri lives in Calcutta.