The Writing of the Nation by its Elite
The Politics of Anglophone Indian Literature in the Global Age
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This volume examines the idea of India as it emerges in the writing of its anglophone elite, post-2000. Drawing on a variety of genres, including fiction, histories, non-fiction assessments — economic, political and business — travel accounts and so on, this book maps the explosion of English-language writing in India after the economic liberalisation and points to the nation’s sense of its growing importance as a producer of culture. From Ramchandra Guha to William Dalrymple, from Arundhati Roy to Pankaj Mishra, from Jhumpa Lahiri to Amitav Ghosh, from Amartya Sen to Gurcharan Das, from Barkha Dutt to Tarun Tejpal, this investigation takes us from aesthetic imaginings of the nation to its fractured political fault lines, the ideological predispositions of the writers often pointing to an asymmetrically constituted India.
A major intervention on how postcolonial India is written about and imagined in the anglophone world, this book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of cultural studies, literature, history and South Asian studies. It will also be of interest to general readers with an interest in India and Indian writing.
Table of Contents
1. Politics and Literary Style: Arundhati Roy’s Essays and Interviews (2001-14)
2. The Well-Born Englishman in India: William Dalrymple’s White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in 18th Century India (2002)
3. Unfinished Renunciation: Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City (2004) and Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis (2012)
4. The Anglophone Hierarchy: Chetan Bhagat’s Fiction and Non-Fiction (2004-14)
5. A Desirable Nation: Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity (2005)
6. Taking Sides: Pankaj Mishra and Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and beyond (2006)
7. Nation as Exposition: Ramachandra Guha’s India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy (2007)
8. Past as Pastiche: Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies (2008)
9. Economics without Politics: Nandan Nilekani’s Imagining India: Ideas for the New Century (2009)
10. The Other Half: Tarun J Tejpal’s The Story of My Assassins (2009)
11. Dharma and Ideology: Gurcharan Das’s The Difficulty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma (2009) and India Grows at Night: A Liberal Case for a Strong India (2012)
12. Democracy and the Lesser Nation: Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen’s An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions (2013)
13. Cultural Capital: Jhumpa Lahiri and The Lowland (2013)
14. Rarefied Spaces: Barkha Dutt’s This Unquiet Land: Stories from India’s Fault Lines (2015)
15. An Unresisting People: Shashi Tharoor’s An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India (2016)
MK Raghavendra is a writer on culture, literature and politics, specializing in film, particularly its political side. After getting a Master’s degree in science and working in the financial sector for over two decades, he has become a full-time writer. He won the National Award, the Swarna Kamal for Best Film Critic in 1997, and received a Homi Bhabha Fellowship in 2000.
He has authored several volumes of academic scholarship from international publishers — Seduced by the Familiar: Narration and Meaning in Indian Popular Cinema, Bipolar Identity: Region, Nation and the Kannada Language Film, The Politics of Hindi Cinema in the New Millennium: Bollywood and the Anglophone Indian Nation, and Locating World Cinema: Interpretations of Film as Culture. His recent publications also include Philosophical Issues in Indian Cinema: Approximate Terms and Concepts (Routledge, 2020) and a book on politics, The Hindu Nation: A Reconciliation with Modernity (forthcoming, 2021). He has also published four volumes of popular film criticism.
His writing has been anthologised internationally, and he has written journalistic pieces on a variety of political and cultural issues for The Hindu, The Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Firstpost and Deccan Herald. He has contributed essays to national-level journals and periodicals including Economic and Political Weekly, Caravan, Frontline, The Book Review and Biblio: A Review of Books. He is Founder-Editor of Phalanx, an online journal dedicated to debate.