Women novelists have also exposed their astonishing distinction and indisputable imprint in the territory of Indian fictions in English. They have shown their bravery in each and every field and in some esteem they were far better than the male. The history of Indian Woman novelists in general, commences with Toru Dutt who passed away at the age of 21, lesser than John Keats of the Romantic school of poetry. After the Second World War, Indian woman novelists got a new path and a new vision of their own. Kamala Markandaya, Ruth Prawar Jhabvala and Nayantara Sahgal are some of the important novelists of this period.
Kamala Markandaya’s first novel Nectar in a Sieve gave her fame and it made her a delightful novelist of great fiction in theme and techniques, matter and style. Her other novels which gained attractiveness in home and abroad are Some Inner Fury, A Silence of Desire, The Coffer Dams, A Handful of Rice etc. Analyzing the themes of all these novels, the common theme is East-West encounter and women’s indifferent roles.
Examining the works of R.P Jhabvala, the contemporary of Kamala Markandaya has also left an ineradicable impression in the history of Indo-Anglian fictions. It is certainly, a complete task to make a decision whether R.P. Jhabvala belongs to India or Germany and got her education in England but married an Indian and lived in India more than twenty four years. Though the majority of her writings depict the attractive picture of Indianness, yet she is not happy to be termed herself as an ‘Indian’. She said that she is not at all an Indian author but as one of the European writers who have depicted about India.
Nayantara Sahgal is chiefly noted as a novelist of politics. She is also recognized as a thriving political newspaper columnist for different newspapers. Her writing is commonly distinguished for its straightforwardness and boldness. Her writing is also well-known for keeping in touch with the recent political ups and downs with a trace of Western liberalism. Her novels straightforwardly reflect the present-day political theme. But contrasting the other political novelists, she never declares any particular political ideology or she never supports any political creed or political movement. Her novels depict the contemporary happening and political realities with imaginative color and objectivity.
The works of Anita Desai is quite different from that of R.P. Jhabvala, Nayantara Sahgal and Kamala Markandaya. She plunges deep into the inner chamber of the protagonist and carries out the concealed mystery of human psyche. Her fictional world is just like an ice berg which is partially hidden and partially visible.
Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. It is not the task of the novelist to convey this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible.
Shashi Deshpande, an award winning Indian novelist, adds a new leaf to the cap of Indian fictions and decorates it with her novels. The Dark Holds No Terror, The Binding Vine, That Long Silence are some of her famous novels. Almost all the novels of Pandey rotate around the pitiable and heart-rending condition of women in a male dominated society. The novel The Dark Holds No Terror deals with a strange character Sarita who has the courage to challenge the age-old tradition by marrying a man outside of her caste. But this love marriage does not prove to be pleasing life for her.
Shobha De, a contemporary novelist famous for describing the sexual mania of the money-making world in a very frank and straightforward way in her novels. But she shot into literary lime light by writing her first novel, Socialite Evening which is of low ranking in expression. Her other works commonly starts with the letter ‘S’ are Starry Night, Sisters, Sultry Days etc. Most of the novels of this novelist examine the various features of sex and an urge of human being.
Mahasweta Devi, the champion of the high-status Jnanpith and Magasasay Awards for her novel Mother of 1084 insists that women should not be submissive and inactive and should recognize the internal power for which they are known. The novel represents the psychological and touching crisis of a mother whose son is lying dead in a police mortuary. She starts to think about the world-shattering commitment of her son and at the same time she also thinks of her own isolation, as a woman and wife from the hypocritical middle-class society.
Manju Kapur, the author of Difficult Daughters succeeded in winning the famous common wealth writer’s prize for the Eurasia region. It is an autobiographical novel similar to that of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. It depicts a woman who considers marriage as the journey’s end of her life. It is about three generations of woman with a special importance on her being sandwiched between the duty towards her family and her relation with a married professor to whom she develops an illegal relation.
Arundhati Roy, the world fame Indian novelist won the prestigious Booker prize for literature on her much talked and much explicated book The God of Small Things, a book which recorded a marvelous sale all over the world. Roy has got the praise of being the first completely home grown Indian to have this prestigious prize. Unlike other Indian novelists Arundhati Roy is born and brought up in India and also got her education in India. In this novel, Kerala, the most cultured state has been wonderfully presented by Roy. In theme, the book looks into an inter alia, the life of Keralite people, their rites and traditions, custom and Patriarchal dealings; a caste ridden mentality of some certain section of people whom Roy terms as ‘Laltain’; the child Psychology; the naked exposure of the malpractices of Marxism and police administration etc.
Thus the Indian novelists have obtained an unchangeable and unavoidable place in the kingdom of English fictions. They are being presented not only national but also international awards. All of them have together tried their best to describe as well as to represent the realistic picture of Indian society – a society entangled in the web of fallacy, bribery and hypocrisy, a society subjugated by the aristocrat that they never hesitate to inflict, abuse and offense, taunts and torture the weak and the vulnerable, a society suffering from the disease of untouchability where the people like low caste have to struggle against the caste-ridden mentality.
The appearance of the second generation of Indian English writers in the 1980’s corresponds with the period that Edward Said named the second stage of anticolonial resistance. It’s the period when the post – colonial society after having attained political dominion struggled seriously to oppose the socio – cultural domination of the colonizer, that is British and the neo-colonizer. The main occupation of the post – colonial writers of the period like Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Firaus, Vikram Seth etc. has been to search for a ‘cultural territory’ for the Post – Colonial society in order to recover its own history.
The Post-Colonial concern for Parsi writers like Mistry is not only to fight for a cultural territory, but also to generate a separate identity of their own. The Parsis are a declining community whose number is declining very sharply. Aditi Kapoor, in her piece of writing voices this concern in the following manner: “Unless something is done to augment their fast depleting numbers and to revive their religion the Parsis after an illustrious past could well just fade out in oblivion”.
Rohinton Mistry is well thought-out to be one of the leading authors of Indian tradition in English. He is an Indian born Canadian writer and born on July 3rd 1952 in Mumbai, India. He graduated in Mathematics and Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He immigrated to Canada with his wife in the year 1975 and settled in Toronto. He studied in the University of Toronto and got a B.A degree in English and Philosophy. It was while he was a University student in Canada that he began to write and publish fiction. He published stories in the Hart House Review and he won two Hart House literary prizes for the stories published in the review. He also won Canadian Fiction Magazine’s Annual Contributor’s prize for 1985. Two years later, his collection of eleven short stories named Tales from Firozsha Baag was published by Penguin books. The book consists of eleven short stories, all these stories set within one apartment complex in modern day Mumbai. He has written three novels Such a Long Journey, A Fine Balance and Family Matters.
Mistry’s first novel Such a Long Journey was published in 1991. He won the Governor General’s Award, the Commonwealth writers’ prize for Best Book and W.H. Smith in Canada First Novel Award. It has been translated into German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Japanese and has been made into a film in the year 1998 Such a Long Journey. This novel brought him national and international appreciation. Mistry’s succeeding novels have achieved the same level of appreciation as his first. Mistry’s second novel A Fine Balance was published in 1995 and it won the second Annual Giller Prize in 1995 and in the year 1996, he got the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. A Fine Balance was chosen for Oprah’s Book club in November 2001 and sold thousands of additional copies throughout North America and got a good name among the people. As a result, it won the 1996 commonwealth writers prize and was shortlisted for the 1996 Booker Prize. It was selected for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Booker Prize.
Mistry’s third novel Family Matters was published in the year 2002. His first two novels were set in the 1970’s and were fundamentally historical fictions. However, Family Matters describes fashionable Bombay and is set in the 1990’s. He is the only novelist all of whose works have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. All his three novels are based on India’s Parsi community. He recognizes something bicultural in both his education and his outlook:
I had been fully formed by my own culture and my own family. At one time I thought this was the culture of the West but I now know it was something different. It was the Indian version of the West and it was mine. Despite, or may be because of having lived in Bombay for my twenty three years I felt something in me was incomplete.
Mistry likes to work slowly outwards, commencing in the family developing character and discovering where the blunder lines lie and progressively broadening into the social, cultural and political worlds that his character dangerously inhabit. The novels have a relaxed speed without ever losing the reader’s captivated attention. The character alters and develops delicately and their interweaving narratives are totally absorbing. He has a great eye and an enormous heart and if the world he portrays is often unkind and unpredictable his characters have a remarkable capacity to survive. In 2012 he won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
The novel Such a Long Journey is set in 1971 during the time of the Indian Pakistan war. Its central character Gustad Noble is a bank clerk and a family man, a defenseless figure whose world is still disturbed by the war with China in 1962. The destiny of Gustad’s family is directly bound up with that of the subcontinent during a time of disaster and confusion. The novel gives a tremendously thorough portrayal of the lives of Gustad and his family in their apartment in Bombay which serves as a distinction to outside world which disturbs family order. The novelist portrays the outside world as a decayed and humiliating force on even the most decent members of the inner sphere. Gustad’s daughter’s ill health and his son’s negative responses to go to college are the actions that motivated the readers to read the novel. When Gustad collects a parcel and a request to launder money for an old friend, the event’s consequences are at once personal and political.
His second novel A Fine Balance is about the abuses of political power t that threaten to destroy the dignity of the individual. The novel is a powerful and painful examination of a humanity beset by social and political repression. The novel is set in India in 1975 during Indira Gandhi’s declared state of Emergency. It gives intense descriptions of extreme poverty and it shows the bond that develops between four main characters, despite the barriers created by their differences in religion and social status.
His last novel Family Matters is set in Bombay and focuses on the past and present life of a retired Professor Nariman Vakeel and his difficult complicated familial relationships. Like Mistry’s other works, the novel has been praised by reviewers for both its intimate portrayals of individuals and its universal, sweeping themes and concerns.
In all his novels Mistry deals with the Parsi environment in India. The Parsis are a small religious community in India devoted to Zoroastrianism, whose ancestors fled Islamic persecution in Iran during the eighth century. Today only about 1,25,000 people follow the faith originally propagated by the prophet Zoroaster between 1500 and 600 B.C. The largest Parsi community is in Mumbai but there are also Parsis in Karachi (Pakistan) and Banglore (Karnataka). The population of the Parsi community is diminishing due to its unwillingness to accept conversions to the faith. The Parsis maintain the importance of their purity in the face of high death rates and low birth rates.
The Parsis tended to be on the edge of Hindu society due to their Zoroastrian faith. In terms of the history of Bristish Colonialism in India, Parsis were often viewed as agents of and collaborators with the British. Although they enjoyed good relations with the British Colonizers, they suffered the stigma of trying to be western. The unpopular position of the Parsis at the end of British rule in 1947 influenced another Parsi Diaspora, this time to the west. Mistry’s literature reflects his position as a member of a twice- displaced people and explores the relationships in the Parsi community in India’s troubled historical context. Bombay is the setting of all his three novels.
Mistry’s short stories describe the characteristics of middle-class Parsi life and show the character’s struggle between modernity and tradition. The characters represent Parsis at odds with their religious beliefs and the larger community and also convey the common human issues of spiritual questions, alienation, and fear of death, family problem and economic hardships.
Rohinton Mistry’s first novel Such a Long Journey brought him national and international recognition. The book concerns an ordinary man who becomes involved in the politics surrounding the Bangladesh Separatist movement in India and Pakistan. In 1998 Such a Long Journey was made into a feature film. In Canada the book won the Governor General’s Award for fiction and the W.H.Smith Books in Canada First Novel Award. It also won the Common Wealth Writers Prize for best book and was a finalist for Britain’s Booker Prize.
Mistry’s subsequent novels have achieved the same level of recognition as his first. The novel A Fine Balance concerns four people from Bombay, who struggle with family and work against the backdrop of the political unrest in India during the mid-1970s. The book won Canada’s Giller prize, the Commonwealth Writers Award. It was a finalist for the Booker prize. Family Matters (2002) describes the members of a blended family who are trying to cope with the falling health of their father.
Mistry’s fiction deploys a precise writing style and sensitivity to the humor and horror of life to communicate deep compassion for human beings. His writing concerns people who try to find self-worth while dealing with painful family dynamics and difficult social and political constraints.
Socio-political and historical documentation is one of the means adopted by many writers throughout the world to reflect the conditions that existed in the past and continued to the present and future times. Indian writing in English is not an exception in reflecting the effects of such events on ordinary lives. varied themes have been addressed through the writings of Indian writers in English who have been playing a major role in touching multifarious issues in a hope to subvert the dominant structures that act as sources of violent times. Within the vast number of writers, two important writers are to be considered and they are Amitav Ghosh and Rohinton Mistry. Their writings reflect the chaotic effects of violence caused by Socio-political upheavals on ordinary people who have no role in fashioning of such events.
Mistry’s novel A Fine Balance recounts the turbulent times of India’s partition in 1947, the pathetic life conditions of common people during the imposition of Emergency and the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984. Among the leading Parsi writers, Rohinton Mistry who is now in Canada, pays more attention to the depiction of his community and his fictional works are relevant with numerous details of Parsi life, culture and religion. As it is on the verge of extinction he wants to leave a record of it for the benefit of posterity. In an interview Mistry confessed, “… When the Parsis have disappeared from the phase of the earth, his writings will preserve a record of how they lived to some extent”. Mistry not only fights for a cultural territory of his people but also to create a distinct identity of their own because the Parsis are a fading community whose number is declining very sharply.
While dealing with the communal life of the Parsis in post-independent India the novel Such a Long Journey captures the socio-political-cultural turmoil the sixties and early seventies have witnessed. The novel courses through a series of political events touching on various tricky issues such as corruption in high places, minority complexes, majority adventurism, increasing fragmentation of the social order and the advent of a personality-oriented political scenario. History thus provides an effective backdrop for the novel.
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