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« Purging Poetry in Pakistan | Main | Cure - A Four Letter Word »

December 23, 2005


A very sensitively selected sample of South Asian Writing! I'm particularly happy to see that there is a conscious exclusion of literature produced merely for the consumption of the tourists. A book that I'd like to add to this category of writing is Desani's "All About H.Haterr"-a demonstration of linguistic excellence with wit and substance.

Thanks for the suggestion. I have not read Desani's book. Will definitely check it out.

Ms. Paul:

A nice list of fiction. But I have to confess a weariness with South Asian-themed fiction, whatever its literary worth. So I'll not be reading/re-reading any of those (excellent) books you have listed. You know a counter-list is coming up ;)

Instead, I would like to suggest a few non-fiction, South Asian-themed books. Just off the top of my head, anything by Jarav Lal Mehta makes for very interesting reading ('Philosophy and religion', or 'J.L. Mehta on Heidegger, hermeneutics and Indian tradition'). Or, consider reading Purushottama Bilimoria's 'Sabdapramana, Word and Knowledge: A Doctrine in Mimamsa-Nyaya'. Also worth reading is 'Relativism, Suffering and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Bimal K. Matilal', edited by Bilimoria and J.N. Mohanty. I think these books are likely available only in the library (except for the last one, perhaps).


Whoa! Kumar, you are recommending a territory I have not ventured into yet. Although I read a lot of non-fiction (and not just the south Asian variety), philosophy is one field I have stayed away from so far. I tend to gravitate towards historical, political or scientific subjects. But I may take your advice and try a book from your list.

What is the cause of your weariness with s.Asian fiction - or is it with fiction in general? S. Asian writing actually constitutes a very small fraction of my own reading. I don't particularly seek out a book because it pertains to that region. (But I do look forward to a new book by Amitav Ghosh.) The compilation presented here was covered by me over several years. I decided to present the mini-review for the benefit of readers who may not have ever been exposed to these writings.

It is interesting that you mentioned "A Doctrine in Mimamsa-Nyaya". Sukrita Paul Kumar (a published author herself), whose comment on this post appears above yours, is actively involved in the research of this tradition in the Madhuban region of rural Bihar.

Ms. Paul:

Your list features a number of good books. My comment was directed, not so much at your list, but at fiction in general.

Nowadays, I don't read much contemporary 'literary' fiction, especially South Asian fiction. I'm not quite sure why; perhaps because the themes and plots of such fiction are too-familiar, without much in the way of compensatory pleasures (say, a captivating prose style). Or, perhaps it's due to an atrophy of my imagination.

You are far from alone in tending to favor fiction over non-fiction, of course. But I tend to favor history, science and philosophy. Works in these areas tend to be genuinely novel compared to much contemporary 'literature'. In any case, I think that a greater acquaintance in India with Indian philosophy would clarify public discourse on many issues in India.

Thanks for the tip about SP Kumar. Do you know whether she has published in this area yet?


I probably read more non-fiction than "literary" fiction myself - only not much philosophy.

I do not know if Sukrita P. Kumar has published anything in the area. I can find out.

Thanks for the South Asian reading list. I was recently gifted "God of Small Things" and I look forward to reading it now. In case you have not already read George Orwell's "Shooting of an Elephant", it is one of my favorite short stories.

Calcutta Chromosome bizzare? It is an outstanding piece of science fiction.

I love Amitav Ghosh and I like science fiction. But I thought Calcutta Chromosome was bizarre ... unnecessarily psychedelic and in the end wholly unsatisfactory.

Ghosh's writing is brilliant as usual. Combining elements of ghostly events, fever, delirium, medical research and exotic locales of rural India - all interesting topics in isolation, did not ultimately mesh well for an integrated theme or conclusion, in my opinion. Ghosh is an excellent story teller - he just did not do it for me in this book. I am glad you enjoyed it though, "coturnix".

De gustibus... of course. No problem. I'm sorry it did not work for you, but I will definitely try some other stuff of his.

is that also reading dean's listers??????????

helpful list, thanks for all these!

Thanks for categorizing the list based on the persons specialization. Thanks you so much!! its a good one. :)

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