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Monday, October 24, 2005

Hindi-Chini Why Why?

The headline of an editorial in today’s Economic Times crows: India Beats China.

Does this refer to economic growth? Foreign investment? The number of flyovers planned but not built?

Not at all. The editorial mentions Time magazine’s recent list of the 100 best contemporary novels in the English language, stating that though Time "lists two books by authors of Indian origin and one where India figures in the title," China doesn't feature at all in the top 100.

The books in question are Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Naipaul's A House For Mr Biswas and E.M. Forster's A Passage to India.

The piece does go on to add: "Which could be because the best novels out of China are penned in Chinese, with the rest of the world catching up on translations which have not been considered for the Time list."

Nevertheless. A newsmagazine publishes an admittedly dogmatic list of 100 best novels in English; three of them happen to be linked to India; and this is seen as a reason to tom-tom superiority over China? Astonishing.

4 Comments:

  • I think the piece was written in a lighter vein - as most 3rd edits are. In fact, my guess is, it's a satire on those who keep looking for facts that prove India is 'better' than China.

    To me atleast, it doesn't look like an effort to "tom-tom superiority over China". Or, is it only me who is seeing the irony here?

    In fact, it will become clear if we read the following two paragraphs. (I have pasted them below).

    "There are, of course, some who would say that George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, all about a totalitarian system dominated by Big Brother could have tangentially referred to China though the author died years before Chairman Mao initiated the ‘Great Leap Foward’, the Cultural Revolution or even swam up the Yangtze! The 1984 Newspeak, “War is Peace,” does sound strikingly similar to the slogans found in Chairman Mao’s Red Book and tirades against imperialism’s running dogs.

    However, too much need not be read into 1984 and it could just have been a case of Orwell being remarkably prescient about the future when he typed out this literary masterpiece on a sick bed where he was being treated for a terminal case of tuberculosis. From an Indo-centric point of view, readers may wonder why only Rushdie’s work made it to the TIME list but not that of another Indian Booker Prize winner. Or maybe Arundhati Roy’s God of small things was not divinely big enough to catch the eye of the compilers of the TIME list!"

    Let's not take it too seriously and get 'astonished'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:48 PM  

  • You think?

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 6:07 PM  

  • Prufrock... you are hysterical!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:16 AM  

  • i agree its astonishing. And silly. but this seems to be part of a wider phenomenon of india vs. china that i hear a lot about - mostly from my Indian friends i have to say. im glad someone has the sense not to constantly engage with things through a nationalistic prism.

    By Anonymous sonia, at 5:18 PM  

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