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Subjected Subcontinent

Sectarian and Sexual Lines in Indian Writing in English


Eiko Ohira

This book offers a new, complex understanding of Indian writing in English by focusing its analysis on both Indo-Pakistani Partition fiction and novels written by women. The author gives a comprehensive outline of Partition novels in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh written in English as well as an overview of the challenges of studying Partition literature, particularly English translations of Partition novels in regional languages. Featured works include Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man, Amitav Ghosh’s Shadow Lines, Meena Arora Nayak’s About Daddy, and Sujata Sabnis’s A Twist in Destiny. The book then moves on to a study of novels by women writers such as Githa Hariharan, Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, and Arundhati Roy, exploring their perspectives on sexuality, the body, and the diaspora.
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Chapter 5: Partition Novels after Midnight’s Children: An Overview


← 48 | 49 →CHAPTER 5

Partition Novels after Midnight’s Children: An Overview

After Midnight’s Children, more than twenty Partition novels suddenly appeared, double the number before that. These include A Golden Age (2007) by Bangladeshi writer Tahmina Anam, which deals with the war in Bangladesh in 1971. Like the novels before Midnight’s Children, such works also show concern about the issues of displacement, mob mentality, violence against women, and the political situation leading up to the Partition. However, their primary concern is noticeably the contemporary history of India, seeking a national identity.

Midnight’s Children is a watershed because of the way it presents subject formation, self-alienation and fragmentation in connection to the formation and fragmentation of India. In this unique structure, the dream of a unified India, as a grand narrative, is deconstructed. Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines, Mukul Kesavan’s Looking Through Glass, Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel, and Nina Sibal’s Yatra: The Journey followed suit in various ways. Also, many remarkable novels with significant gender perspectives appeared, such as Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man (1988), Manju Kapur’s Difficult Daughters (1998), and Shauna Singh Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers (1999). Amrita Pritam’s “The Skeleton” (translated into English from Punjabi) also deserves attention. A Golden Age (2007), the first English Partition novel by a Bangladeshi author, Tahmina Anam also appeared.

← 49 | 50 →An Outline of Partition Novels after Midnight’s Children

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