Cover image for Modern South Asian literature in English
Modern South Asian literature in English
Brians, Paul.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
vi, 247 pages ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9484.6 .B75 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A recent surge of interest in South Asian culture has met with a wealth of outstanding novels by Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan authors. Increasing numbers of readers are aware of and drawn to such writers as Salman Rushdie, Bharati Mukherjee, and Arundati Roy, who regularly appear bestseller lists, win prestigious fiction awards, and are added to suggested classroom readings. This book is an ideal introduction for the student, educator, or general interested reader wishing to explore and appreciate the rich and varied worlds of South Asian literature for the first time.

Each of the book's 15 chapters introduces readers to a significant Indian, Pakistani, or Sri Lankan writer. A brief biographical background focuses on the elements most relevant to the understanding of his or her fiction. A concise overview of the author's major works is provided, while the bulk of the chapter is devoted to the explication of a single work. Critical perspectives are offered, as well as background information enabling readers to view each work as window to South Asian culture.

The works are presented in chronological order, beginning with Tagore's 1915 masterpiece Quartet and concluding with the recent bestseller The Death of Vishnu (2001) by Manil Suri. While each chapter can be enjoyed on its own, the volume is structured to trace the development of post-colonial fiction, situating the works against the historical and cultural elements that shape them. Works were selected for being the most representative of each author's output, or to present the works that are most likely to be interesting and accessible to the uninitiated reader. For this reason, short stories by Rushdie and Anita Desai are discussed instead of than their more famous novels.

This book presents a balance between historical and modern settings, divergent religious and political perspectives, a broad selection of authors and settings of geographic diversity, and a wide range of literary techniques. Readers of many backgrounds will enjoy reading about these authors, their works, and the cultural elements that make these works so fascinating. A glossary of foreign terms and further suggested readings complete the book.

Author Notes

PAUL BRIANS is Professor of English and Coordinator of Humanities at Washington State University. He has published extensively on nuclear war fiction, and has written numerous study guides on the literature of Africa, India, and the Caribbean. He is editor-in-chief of Reading about the World .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Brians (Washington State Univ.) focuses on 15 well-known writers from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The fact that six of them are women reflects the upsurge in women's writing from South Asia. The texts discussed date from 1915 to the present, although the author emphasizes contemporary works of the last two decades. The book's chronological order gives a useful sense of progression, especially because Brians begins each chapter with a short biography of the writer and relevant historical and cultural background. He continues each chapter with an overview of the writer's major works; a more detailed look at a particular work that is most representative (he gives more detailed discussion of the more difficult works); a discussion of style, structure, and characterization; and brief commentary about controversies surrounding the work. Brians also provides a selective bibliography for further reading for each author, citing primarily Internet-based resources. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. High school students; lower- and upper-division undergraduates; and general readers. J. J. Findlay formerly, University of Nebraska--Lincoln

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 3
1 The Fiction of Rabindranath Tagore: Quartet (1915)p. 11
2 Raja Rao: Kanthapura (1938)p. 27
3 Khushwant Singh: Train to Pakistan (1956)p. 47
4 R. K. Narayan: The Guide (1958)p. 59
5 Attia Hosain: Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961)p. 75
6 Anita Desai: Games at Twilight (1978)p. 87
7 Bapsi Sidhwa: Cracking India (1988)p. 99
8 Bharati Mukherjee: Jasmine (1989)p. 111
9 Salman Rushdie: East, West (1994)p. 129
10 Shyam Selvadurai: Funny Boy (1994)p. 147
11 Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance (1996)p. 155
12 Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things (1997)p. 165
13 Michael Ondaatje: Anil's Ghost (2000)p. 177
14 Jhumpa Lahiri: Interpreter of Maladies (2000)p. 195
15 Manil Suri: The Death of Vishnu (2001)p. 205
Glossary of Termsp. 219
Indexp. 243