What is it about internationally acclaimed books from India or by Indian authors? Or as more is the case today, books by authors of Indian origin?
For long such books have either been about a post-colonial hangover with the British Raj (rule), or about Non Resident Indian reminiscing about home or (as of recently), the ABCD* Handbook to Criticising India.
(*ABCD = American Born Confused Desi, where 'desi' means native)
The 2008 Booker of Bookers winner Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie), the 2008 Man Booker winner White Tiger (Aravind Adiga), the 2000 Pulitzer winner Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri) and even the 1996-Booker shortlisted, A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) falls into either one of those categories.
All these writers and their books are also clubbed under the category of 'Indian Writing in English'. Whether the 'Indian' refers to writing originating from the country or a native of the country is suspect. 'Indian Writing in English'. Strange, we don't have Spanish/Spaniard Writing in English or Italian Writing in English or French Writing in English. Perhaps because some critics find the language by Indian authors tedious, constructed and flowery'...
Then there are writers like Shobhaa De (Superstar India), Advaita Kala (Almost Single) and blog-to-books recent entry, Meenakshi Madhavan Reddy (You Are Here). 'Irreverent' is the over-used adjective for their writing. While Ms De is a senior when it comes to writing and successfully stirring controversy -- she is also consistent on the best-seller lists -- the other two writers are newbies. By newbie standards, Madhavan has been around and writing -- in the blogosphere at least -- for much longer than Kala. Their writing is also being heralded as the face of "the brave, new world of the young of our times". I have not yet read You Are Here (expectant); but I have read Almost Single (cringe).
Going by what Khushwant Singh and book reviews have to say about Madhavan's book and what I read in Kala's: Is their portrayal the real, new India?
Why does portrayals of India either have to do with slums or sluts? Yes, we do drink, smoke, dance, f**k and start earning much earlier than the older generation(s) used to.... but is that all to us? And if there is more to us, why the hell isn't anyone writing about it and why's no one publishing it?
What, according to you, is the best representation of India in a fiction/non-fiction book? Also, if you read review blogs that focus on Indian books/authors, share the link.
PS: And I strongly disagree to respected Khushwant Singh saying, "...I doubt if I would admit she was related to me" about Madhavan's book.
I am sorry Mr Singh, those are rotten, double standards. Or is it because Madhavan happens to be a free-speaking, feisty young woman? Your books were far raunchier, in bad taste and pretentious. While you are denying any links to the current generation, we are a fruit of your loins. If the fruit isn't sweet, perhaps the older generation needs to think about it.
PS: Some others seem to take this post as a criticism. Is it? It's more an attempt to understand what's happening with Indian writing/writers from India. As a media student, I find in discussions that somehow people seem to presume that Indian authors can only write about a 'certain' India. And no, I am not an author. It is very hard.