Vikram Seth OR The "Indianness" in Writing
 I have quietly tiptoed around Vikram Seth for a long time, partly because of the immense bulk of A Suitable Boy (I am an impatient reader). But I had been pelted with bits and pieces of his poetry for a very long time, from different people, and finally someone's very strong recommendation made me pick up and read An Equal Music. I finished the book a little more than a week ago. The music of it keeps staying with me. I think I love the man.

An Equal Music isn't a book about Indians at all. Its protagonists are British, and so are most other characters. The narrative takes place mostly in London but also in Vienna, Rochdale and Venice; and the story is intertwined with a deep understanding of Western classical music, which so few Indians really have (I don't, I admit). 

But despite all that, there's something very Indian about An Equal Music. I cannot put words around it. I think if I was just given the text of the novel and not told who wrote it, I could've still sensed the touch of the Indian author. This is not to undermine the uniqueness of Seth, who I think is a wonderful writer in his own right. But this inherent Indianness that I'm trying to pinpoint is something that had troubled me when I read The English Patient. I had loved the book, and the sleeve had told me that Michael Ondaatje was Canadian, and it wasn't until long after that I discovered his Sri Lankan connection. Reading The English Patient had left me wondering, instead, how a Western man could write like that - and of course, as I later realised, Ondaatje isn't an entirely Western man. What am I trying to drive at? Is it something about the unique philosophy of our South Asian cultures... the way we interpret life... the way we value people... the way we hear music? Is there an academic term for this? Does anyone know here know it?

Any and every comment would be appreciated.

A Man Booker Disappointment!
Hello! Im new here, I was actually considering making a community for Indian literature, before I found this! Its sad that there are so few members.

I just read 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga and I was so disappointed with it. His style of writing is somewhat like Indra Sinha's in Animal's People, not as vulgar but a little close. But despite all the not-so-pleasant characteristics of Animal, I really liked his charachter. He almost has this innocent charm to him. Maybe, innocent is not the right word. He looked at life at a somewhat unbiased perspective, despite his disability. But in The White Tiger, I really didn't connect to Balram's character and when you don't like the main charachter, the rest of the story is just lost on you.

And not everyone in this world is untrustworthy. I'm almost felt sad to be an Indian after reading it. I agree that all the corruption is there and probably will never go away. But India has a charm that the book completely washes away. I guess its a reality that I just have to accept.

But, I've just got my hand on Sea of Poppies and Im already hooked after the first few pages. I did enjoy The Hungry Tide and Im really looking forward to finishing this one. Amitav Ghosh writes about the most unusual topics doesn't he? I have never before in my life connected dolphins and India in the same sentence in my head.

Five of your favourites from Indian literature

Just that. Put up a list of five books you've enjoyed the most from the range of Indian literature. I haven't read much myself, and I'd love to know what others have read and would wholeheartedly recommend.

Five books. Any language. If you're mentioning a book written in a regional language, it'll be nice to add if you've read it in the original or in translation, but there's no hard and fast rule.


Of why this community has come into existence

It started from a personal experience. Back in November, I had put Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies under the interests in my journal profile, and discovered that no one else in LJ shared it with me. Personally, I think Sea of Poppies is one of the best books to be published in 2008 worldwide. Isn't it rather unnerving to find no one else in LJ seemed to think so?

A little surprised, I went searching for communities about Indian literature on LJ. Another surprise awaited me on that front. The only existing community that happened to list "Indian literature" as an interest is a community on Asian literature as a whole, and it's in the Russian language. I thought that was a bit of a shame, because India, after all, has one of the highest literary outputs in the world, both in English and in regional languages. We have awesome authors and brilliant books, and we keep having more every year.

I thought all of that rather deserved a separate community for people to discuss in.
So, this community.

The only strict rule right now is that you're not allowed to post your own writing here. As I keep mentioning, there are other communities for that. Please keep this community free for only discussion on books that you have read (or want to read).

And you're welcome. :)


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