When Salman Rushdie said in the early 1980s that Indian writers were "in a position to conquer English Literature," he was being slightly exuberant but also a bit prophetic. Today, the parade of Indians writers in English is long and growing in numbers and prestige; among them, one finds Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Hanif Kureishi, Rohinton Mistry, Hashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, R.K. Narayan, and Anita Desai. In addition to using English, they all share an expatriate status and the immigrant-writer experience. It is these similarities that Kumar pursues in his intriguing book. Himself an exile, Kumar (English, Pennsylvania State Univ.), a winner of an "Outstanding Book of the Year" Award from the Myers Program for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America, figuratively wanders through the three main capitals of the Indian diaspora (Bombay, London, and New York) in pursuit of the themes and motivations that characterize these literary exiles. In the process, he reflects on what expatriate fiction reveals, namely, that the past is mythical (partly true, partly dreamed) and shaped by nostalgia, memory, and loss and that even when we leave our past and the old country, we are still defined by it.
This book illuminates both the writers examined and the act of writing as a means of re-creating the past.
Highly recommended for literary collections and all large public and academic libraries.
Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY
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