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Saturday, January 28, 2006

So Much For Chetan Bhagat

In the New Statesman, Amit Chaudhuri offers an indictment of Indian writing in English today, linking it to the narrative of India itself finding its place in the world:

"...the Indian writer in English must be co-opted into this narrative of success and record growth; anything else, during this watershed, is looked upon with anxiety. The writer mustn't cause anxiety; in our family romance, he's the son-in-law - someone we can be proud of, can depend on, who is, above all, a safe investment. He is solvent; preferably settled abroad. He's capable of addressing questions consonant with our emerging prestige. He is not a failure, a daydreamer, a misfit. The anglophone intellectual tradition in India, unlike other intellectual lineages in modernity, has developed no space for daydreaming, irresponsibility, failure, or for the outsider; it has little understanding of the role these play in shaping the imaginative life. It is baffled, if not offended, by an indifference to lofty themes and causes; in the end, it's baffled by an indifference to power.

"The triumphal narrative of Indian writing in English bores me; personally speaking, as a reader and writer, I feel almost no connection with it. I find no echo in its values and excitements of the sense of value and excitement that once brought me to writing...

"It isn't enough, today, to celebrate Indian writing's "success", after having identified what its marks of success are (as if a whole tradition must only be thought of as an arriviste would be); one needs to engage with its long, subterranean history (as hard-earned as political freedom itself) of curiosity and openness."


  • Failure, daydreamer, misfit, irresponsible... I'm going 'ouch'. Thanks for pointing this piece out, it's nice to know of at least one person who believes that some good can come of us slugs.

    By Blogger Babelfish, at 2:45 PM  

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