Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Post-Colonial Indian Writing

I don’t like reading Indian authors who write in English. Most of them that is.

They have not been able to shake-off their colonial hangover yet. Every book they write has linkages to the freedom struggle or the events immediately preceding or following independence. They can’t think beyond.

The books are written with the single-minded aim of winning awards, who cares whether they are readable or not!! The plot is as vague as can be...there is only a semblance of a story. The language is unnecessarily ornate, laborious & doesn’t flow easily. The general consensus seems to be that the more difficult your book is to understand, the higher your chances of winning a literary award. Sadly, this is true as well.

As a result, good writing takes a backseat and what we get over & over again are rehashed versions of India before independence & India immediately after independence.

Good writing is not about overwhelming the reader. It need not always be about the way Hindus & Muslims were hacked to death during the partition or the atrocities committed on the common people during the Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency of 1975.

Writing is about creating a world that the reader can identify with and enjoy, if not feel a part of. In this context, Indian authors have a lot of maturing to do. They might have an exalted vocabulary but they do not know how to use language to make the maximum impact. A book like ‘The Kite Runner’ is as sad as any book on the events leading up to the partition of India but it makes a stronger impact and lingers in the mind of the reader for much longer because of the optimum use of language in the book.

Sadly, even most of us as readers praise the books that we probably understood only half of, to the sky while we know that we enjoyed reading Anurag Mathur’s ‘The Inscrutable Americans’, Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’, Karan Bajaj’s ‘Keep Off the Grass’ & Abhijit Bhaduri’s ‘Mediocre But Arrogant’ much more!


The knife said...

I also feel that Indian authors go out of the way to use profanities and obsceneties ...some are nice though specially the diaspora variety - Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghose (sp Hungry Tide), Chitrita Banerjee...but I so mis R K Narayan

Ashwin said...

Have you read the Ramayana series by Ashok Banker? It is awesome! Unlike anything you've read before.

Scarlett said...

@ the Knife - Indian authors write with a lot of deliberation & that is what I don't like. Their writing isn't natural, rather forced & practised.

@ Ashwin - I haven't. But as a woman I have issues with the protagonist of the 'Ramayana' so not a big fan of the mythology.