Nilanjana Roy points out in her article, what I have always believed- that, Rushdie, Seth, Ghosh and Mistry have been the best that Contemporary Indian Writing has had to offer. Add to it, Authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Suketu Mehta now having come of age, it is this group of writers, that will continue to provide the best in Indian writing for the next few decades.
Roy’s excellent article also mentions the (almost ironical) fact that most of the Indian writers have set up base outside India and continue to spend a good part of a year away from home. This same point has also been mentioned by Laxman Rao, who featured in Guardian’s (www.gurardian.co.uk) article.
Now that I have mentioned Laxman Rao, you may wonder who he is since the name does not seem to belong in literary circles. Laxman Rao is a Novelist who writes in Hindi. In the last 20 years, he has written about “18 novels, plays and political essays”, all in Hindi.
Laxman Rao does not stay outside India. He stays in New Delhi. He sells tea, on a road side tea stall, somewhere in south Delhi.
Rao asserts that to write about India, one has to stay here, in this country and write about the “India” every Indian knows. The words of Indian Authors who stay in foreign lands do not reflect the ground reality here. Read about it here. (Link from Indianwriting)
But then again, for our Authors to stay here, an encouraging market needs to exist. A good environment for literature, a book release and the world gives the Author the notice s/he deserves.
Also required is a “literary sense” existing within the masses. Of course, it does not live in our society. Instances of its absence were evident in the quality of questions asked by journalists while their mobile phones sang amidst Vikram Seth reading “Two Lives”.
Indian Literature is not (yet) in a state where we would ideally like it to be; but at least it hasn’t got any worse. In fact, I would assert that in the last 15 years or so, the overall state of Indian Writing has only improved. Some credit for it should go to Arundhati Roy’s Booker prize winning work, The God of Small Things and the Pulitzer prize winner, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. Of course, shortlisting of Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991) and A Fine Balance(1996), for the Booker Prize, within a span of 5 years, has only helped the cause of Indian Literature.
Things are not too good, agreed, but they are not too bad either.