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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 11: The Isolated Female Body: Sita’s Daughters and Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountainand Fasting, Feasting, among Other Novels


← 134 | 135 →CHAPTER 11

The Isolated Female Body: Sita’s Daughters and Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountain and Fasting, Feasting, among Other Novels

Indian women writers have long been neglected but are now the subject of academic research, reflecting the emergence of feminist critiques in India.1 One of the main themes of these critiques is female subjectivity. Sita-like self-denying and long-suffering women are often represented in Indian literature, however, certain figures in modern fiction offer themselves as alternative models.

In R. K. Narayan’s The Dark Room (1938), Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountain (1977) and Fasting, Feasting (1999), Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997), and Githa Hariharan’s The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) we see not only bizarre forms of domestic violence and self-denying women but also anti-Sitas who leave home and violate the law of the threshold. We see too women who help each other through shared pain and humiliation and form an invisible network with other women.

← 135 | 136 →In Search of an Anti-Sita Model

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