Indian literature is produced in a wealth of languages but there is an asymmetry in the exposure the writing gets, which owes partly to the politics of translation into English. This book represents the first comprehensive political scrutiny of the concerns and attitudes of Indian language literature after 1947 to cover such a wide range, including voices from the cultural margins of the nation like Kashmiri and Manipuri, that of women alongside those of minority and marginalised communities. In examining the politics of the writing especially in relation to concerns like nationhood, caste, tradition and modernity, postcoloniality, gender issues and religious conflict, the book goes beyond the declared ideology of each writer to get at covert significations pointing to widely shared but often unacknowledged biases. The book is deeply analytical but lucid and jargon-free and, to those unfamiliar with the writers, it introduces a new keenness into Indian literary criticism to make its objects exciting.

chapter |17 pages


Reading Modern Indian ‘Bhasha' Literature

part Section 1|4 pages

The Nation and Its Ethnicities

chapter 1|11 pages

Literature for Performance

Girish Karnad: Three Historical Plays (1964–2019)

chapter 2|9 pages

Constructing a Syncretic History

Qurratulain Hyder's River of Fire (1959)

chapter 3|7 pages

The Meaning of Life

T Gopichand's The Bungler: A Journey through Life (1947)

chapter 4|9 pages

Failure and Middle-Class Life

Mohan Rakesh: Short Stories and a Play (1961–1973)

chapter 5|9 pages

Essentialising the Marginalised

Mahasweta Devi's Chotti Munda and His Arrow (1980)

chapter 6|9 pages

The Private as Public

MK Binodini Devi's The Princess and the Political Agent (1976)

chapter 7|8 pages

The Polarisation of Social Experience

Akhtar Mohiuddin: A Novella and Short Stories (1960–)

part Section 2|2 pages

Modernity and Its Effects

chapter 8|8 pages

Breaking Taboos

Suresh Joshi's Short Stories (1957–)

chapter 9|8 pages

Modernity and Interiority

UR Ananthamurthy's Samskara (1965)

chapter 10|9 pages

Unstable Hybrid

Nirmal Verma's A Rag Called Happiness (1979)

chapter 11|8 pages

Outward Profusion, Inward Silence

OV Vijayan's The Legends of Khasak (1968)

chapter 12|8 pages

Another Modernity

Paul Zacharia's Bhaskara Pattelar and Other Stories (1983–)

chapter 13|10 pages

Literary Modernism and the Community

Vilas Sarang's Fair Tree of the Void: Short Stories (1974–1990)

chapter 14|9 pages

Living in the World

Vinod Kumar Shukla's A Window Lived in the Wall (1997)

part Section 3|26 pages

Gender and the Position of Women

chapter 15|8 pages

Nation of Women

Amrita Pritam's Pinjar (1950)

chapter 16|9 pages

Tradition, Privilege and Gender

Indira Goswami's Short Stories (1986–)

chapter 17|7 pages

‘Eternal' Womanhood

Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay's The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die (2017)

part Section 4|3 pages

The Experience of Caste

chapter 18|9 pages

Literature and Testimony

Bama's Karukku (1992)

chapter 19|8 pages

View from Under

Sharankumar Limbale's The Dalit Brahmin and Other Stories (1984)

chapter 20|8 pages

The Nostalgia of the Small Farmer

Perumal Murugan's One Part Woman (2010)

chapter 21|10 pages

Lost Authority, Soft Power

Ashokamitran's Short Stories (1961–1996)

chapter 22|9 pages

The Myth of Varna

Vijay Tendulkar's Ghasiram Kotwal (1972)

part Section 5|49 pages

Humanism and Authorial Discourse

chapter 23|8 pages

The Popular Writer and Literature

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer: Two Novellas (1947–1965)

chapter 24|8 pages

Humanism without Politics

Gopinath Mohanty: Hidden Ganga and Other Stories (1950–)

chapter 25|8 pages

A Tapestry Called Humanity

Jayant Kaikini's Short Stories (1986–2006)

chapter |23 pages


Patterns in Bhasha Writing