Recent Indian Writing – I

I’ve been reading some … yes, since a few months now. That was a marked change from before, for the longest while when I wouldn’t. It was as if the world of letters had exhausted its charm or yield for over a decade and half, while I remained saturated with the purity of One extolled in the Upanishads.

And then it began … with going back to Pillars Of Earth, and Follett’s work with WWII in the background, to Steinbeck’s epic East Of Eden and To A God Unknown, and to all that Joyce wrote. His Dubliners were a discovery : exquisitely poised in consciousness, inseparable between the streaming experience and the witness being. They were entirely unlike Henry James’ stories, each of which held out a moral and were never without a climactic crest. The autobiographical Portrait was both a view through Joyce’s rangeful passage of rites and a benchmark to artistic accomplishment, and Exiles brought relationship values, freedom and honesty, into unbelievably sharp focus. I must be the umpteenth reader saying it but Joycean writing is one of its kind : nobody who has not read or has not been able to appreciate it is evolved enough to hear the cosmic Word — the one which connects the micro- to the macrocosm ! We find the same umbilical concentration in Steinbeck and Camus, Hamsun and Kafka, Kierkegaard and Faulkner … more or less.

I have remained unfamiliar with Indian fiction in English language after RK Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and Salman Rushdie. Since November last however, I took in some of the recent works by Amish Tripathi — the Shiva trilogy, Anand Neelakantan’s accounts on behalf of the defeated, vanquished and vilified — contra heroes, if you may — in Indian epic duo Ramayana and Mahabharata, Ashwin Sanghi’s parallel ancient-modern storylines narrated in each of his three works, and Krishna Udayshankar’s Aryavarta Chronicles series with social, economic and political thread in human progression through Vedic India.

Each of the works disappoint, more or less, but more with errors of proof and grammar, imprecise expressions and inadequacies of style, than artistic drive. They all grip and entertain, draw and provoke, and generally left me in admiration of the authors’ enormous talent and capacity for effort.

* * *       Continued


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