Book Review: ‘Contemporary Indian Fiction in English’

Panwar, Dinesh and Roy, Vijay Kumar. (Ed.) Contemporary Indian Fiction in English: Critical Studies. New Delhi: Alfa Publications, 2013. ISBN: 978-93-82302-98-8. (HB) pp. 173. Price: Rs. 595.

Reviewed by Dr. Tribhuwan Kumar*

             The contemporary Indian English Fiction has created its own niche in the twenty first century Indian English Literature. A new generation of novelists including Khushwant Singh, Arun Joshi, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie, Manju Kapur, Amitav Ghosh and Kiran Desai have come into lime light and produced an entirely different note.

Contemporary Indian Fiction in English: Critical Studies, edited byDr. Dinesh Panwar and Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy, is a collection of thirteen well-researched critical papers on the works of contemporary Indian English novelists. The anthology brings contemporary Indian English fictions to attention and acknowledges its relevance. The first paper of the anthology is the critical evaluation of Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan. The novelist writes on sensational issue and the present paper is also the manifestation of the same spirit. It graphically and boldly describes the theme of social, cultural and religious identities, the theme of violence, murders, rapes, bestiality and migration, and the ill-fate of the nation, India, being split into two halves.

The second paper entitled “Dilemma of Existence of a Modern Man in Arun Joshi’s The Last Labyrinth.” The author of the paper analyses the psyche of modern man, his quest for self identity and craving for peace and happy life. The third chapter is the visualisation of social reality in the rural India through the selected novels of Kamala Markandaya. The author gives vivid description of the oriental culture through a number of Markandaya’s representative novels: Some Inner Fury, Nectar in the Sieve, Possession, A Handful of Rice, The Coffer Dams, Two Virgins and The Golden Honeycomb.

The fourth paper carries out the realities beyond the confined self through the critical enunciation of Anita Desai’s In Custody. The author has exploited the various linguistic devices employed to peel of the psychic truth. ‘Psychology is the representation of truth and reality’ becomes the benchmark of the analysis of the paper. T Jeevan Kumar, in his paper “Shashi Deshpande’s Small Remedies: A Critical Study”, brings out in the forefront the agony and suffering, exploitation and suppression of women through the literary work of a great feminist novelist.

The next paper deals with the theme of women emancipation in details through the major works of Manju Kapur. The paper logically illustrates the changing role of women from the dead past where women rely on others for emotional and worldly need to the bright present where she is conditioned to lead and see themselves as victors rather than victims of circumstances. Erosion of personal and social values in Indian society is the major concern at the present time. The author in the seventh paper depicts daringly deteriorating relationships and marital maladies through the major novels of the great diasporic novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.

Amitav Ghosh can be called the major novelist among the contemporary Indian fiction writers both on quantity and quality basis. The anthology comprises three research papers on Ghosh. In the first paper, the author interprets history in The Calcutta Chromosome through Bakhtinian perspective. In the next paper on Ghosh, Antara Saha interprets The Hungry Tide in the light of ecocriticism. The author wonderfully describes how ecological crisis can be portrayed through symbols. The next paper deals with linguistic and stylistic features in the Sea of Poppies.

In the eleventh paper, authors make a comparative study on the importance of relationships in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Shobha De’s S’s Secret. There are two papers on Kiran Desai. In the first paper, author deals with the theme of transformation of evolution through the protagonist Sampath in Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. The last paper of the anthology takes into account the themes of inferiority complex and Indian’s undying passion for the west through the well known novel The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.

Contemporary Indian English Fiction has become, in recent years, one of the most dynamic areas of literary pursuit in India. The main strength of book can be summed up as ‘universality in diversity’. This anthology presents a fascinating range of critical papers on Indian English fiction. The diversity of approaches taken in this anthology and the wide range of topics and analytical approaches have astonishing advantages to the researchers. The editors have tried to include almost all the contemporary fiction writers in Indian English Fiction, which help to understand this genre with full capacity. Overall, this anthology enriched with the prevailing trends in the contemporary Indian English Fiction and brought out by Dr. Dinesh Panwar and Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy is very useful for teachers and researchers interested in exploring Indian English Fiction in depth and detail.

                 *Assistant Professor of English

                 SRM University, NCR Campus

Modinagar, Ghaziabad, UP.

 

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