D. C. Chambial’s Review of Critical Studies on Contemporary Indian English Women Writers

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  • Topic: Indian English literature, Kiran Desai, Bharati Mukherjee
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D. C. Chambial’s Review of Critical Studies on Contemporary Indian English Women Writers Dominic, K. V., ed. Critical Studies on Contemporary Indian English Women Writers. New Delhi: Sarup Book Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2010. Pp. 336 + xx. Rs. 1100/- Hardbound. ISBN-978-81-7625-631-5. DC Chambial

The book under review by Dr. K. V. Dominic has 27 essays by 24 eminent critics of Indian English literature on about 12 Indian English writers: novelists, and poets. There are four essays on Anita Desai, two on Kamala Markandaya, two on Kamala Das, three on Shashi Deshpande, two on Arundhati Roy, two on Bharati Mukherjee, one each on Jaishree Mishra, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Kiran Desai, Smita Tiwari, Chandramoni Narayanswamy, and Charmayne D’Souza.  There is also one article that makes a comparative study of world women poets. Linda Lowen and Jaydeep Sarangi interview respectively Sarojini Sahoo and Rizio Yohanan Raj. V. Ramesh has three and Sudhir Arora two articles in this anthology. Besides, there is also a ‘Preface’ by the editor, Prof. Dominic, doctorate on the fiction of RK Narayan, is, himself, a poet and critic of wide renown. The editor, in his ‘Preface’ to this book, is very clear about his perception about the Indian English women writers. He writes: “Indian writing in English is . . . both an Indian literature and a variety of English literature. It has an appeal both to Indians and English men” (v). He further adds: “Indian English women writers have made a phenomenal contribution to Indian literature as well as world literature. They are able to portray a world that has in it women rich in substance. The women in their works are real flesh-and-blood protagonists who make the readers look at them with awe with their relationships to their surroundings, their society, their men, their children, their families, their mental make-ups and themselves” (x-xi). Novelists & Story writers

The book undertakes the study of 11 women novelists: Anita Desai, Kamala Markandaya, Shashi Deshpande, Arundhati Roy, Bharati Mukherjee, Jaishree Mishra, Jhumpa Lahiri,  Githa Hariharan, Kiran Desai, Chandramony Narayanaswamy, and Charmayne D’ Souza. Among the four articles on Anita Desai’s fiction two are by V Ramesh and one each by Latha R. Nair and Sr. Sophy Pereppadan, V. Ramesh in one of his article traces the “Dravidian aesthetics” in her fiction from feministic stance. He concludes that women’s “faculty to endure the domestic injustice and the institutionalized tyranny unseat the myths of feminity, motherhood and marriage. This is . . . what the Dravidian culture is all about” (19). In the other, he studies Sita’s character as “The Paradoxical Psyche of an Archetypal Indian Woman” in Anita Desai’s novel Where Shall We Go This Summer? In this article, he infers that “Anita Desai undeniably divulges a commendable grasp of the quandary and dilemmas of woman and portrays her own vision of a variegated facet of woman in modern India and her fully stimulated feminine sensibility” (48).  Latha R. Nair explores Desai’s novels in a quest to explicate “Locale as an Extension of the Self” and finds that “the locale or milieu becomes a commanding centre” in her novels. Her characters “are definitely apart (sic) [a part] of the locale, which reflects, expands and transforms their identity. It is not possible to free ourselves from this milieu which is an integral part of our psychological milieu” (9). Sr. Sophy Pereppadan digs deep into Desai’s novel Fire on the Mountain to trace her “alienation” and affirms that “Her desire ‘to be alone’ finds expression in her love for nothingness–an expression of nihilism. This is in some sense a ‘death-wish,’ which enjoys the devastation of the live world. She gratifies her craving for aloneness by annihilating everything existing . . .” (36). Shishu Paul tries, in his article, to show the impact of political upheavals on human relationships in Kamala Markandeya’s novel, The Golden Honeycomb. He...
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