The New Phase of Indian English Literature

by Samreen Jawaid 

There is a glut of Indian authors out there. No doubt India is enjoying a literary boom. With everyone writing a book and bagging a few titles under their name; Tushar Raheja, Novoneel  Chakraborty, Amit Verma (left image), Durjoy Dutta and Meenakshi Reddy are a few to name. Indeed writing book is the new trend in India. While browsing the section of Indian literature one can not ignore the anxiety with which the number of new works are coming up and the ranks of such writers is swelling up.

But what has attributed to this writing mania? Writing which was considered a noble profession is no longer limited to the elite. And what is remarkable about this phase is that all these writers are writing in English. English literature in India is going through a new phase. Wider spread education is one reason. But growth of Indian market is the foremost and the fundamental reason for a substantial number of people engaging in writing. With economic liberalism and globalisation India has expanded its literary market and with the domestic market sufficiently strong, new writers can now concentrate on what they want to write rather than what they think they must write. Indian writers who are settling back in India are also serving as an inspiration for the aspiring writers. Chetan Bhagat is too important a name to be ignored in this context.

But does this suddenness of literary boom only suggest that the parameter of English literature in India is deteriorating. Has the exigency to attract the local audience obliterated the universal appeal. Have these new age writers failed to portray the Indian sensibility in English language. Or does it suggest once again that the Indian diaspora is too exhaustive to be confined to a foreign language? Has the profoundness of Indian literature betrayed the rapproachment between Indianness and the English tongue, and does it need to be established all over again.

English literature in India marks its outset as a payback of the colonial rule when English was interjected under Indian education. But Indian English fiction got cognizance only under writers like Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Roy and R.K. Narayan. They gave the necessary kick off, their writing is what defined India creating and defining  its niche in the world literature. They defined the sphere in which the Indian novel was to operate, and brought it within hailing distance of the latest novels of the west. They established the suppositions, the manner, the concept of character and the nature of the themes which were to give the Indian its particular distinctiveness. They laid the foundation for the genuine indo-anglian novel, each imparting to the Indian experience a dimension of individuality. This tradition was further taken forward by writers like V S Naipaul, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Rohinston Mistry by showing a direction towards contextuality and rootedness in their works.  

On the contrary the new age literature which is emerging of late is accused of being superficial, imitative, shallow, parochial and sometimes too mediocre to invoke an universal appeal. And although it is adding to the bulk of Indian English literature, it has once again put India in a state where it needs to re-assert its identity in the global world literature all over again.

Samreen Jawaid

 

 

 Samreen is budding writer and currently She is doing masters from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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