English Literature

  ENGLISH LIRERATURE

WRITERS



Mulk Raj Anand

R. K. Narayan
Raja Rao
G. V. Desani
Manohar Malgaonkar
Khushwant Singh
Kamala Markandaya
Nissim Ezekiel
A. K. Ramanujan
Arun Kolatkar
Kamala Das
Anita Desai
Kiran Nagarkar
Vikram Seth
Upamanyu Chatterjee
Shashi Tharoor
Amitav Ghosh
Arundhati Roy







Mulk Raj Anand (b. 1905) was educated at Lahore, London and Cambridge, and holds a doctorate in Philosophy. Generally regarded as a leftist, Anand's works focus on the wretched and downtrodden, with a sense of sincerity and urgency. His novels, belonging to the genre of social realism, include Untouchable (1935), Coolie (1936), Two Leaves and A Bud (1936), The Village (1939), and The Big Heart (1945). Private Life of an Indian Prince (1953)deals with a totally different class of characters. Untouchable is a great milestone in Indian English literature, as a work of social realism and as the first Dalit novel. Besides being a novelist and short-story writer, Mulk Raj Anand is also an astute art critic who edited Marg, an art magazine, for quite some time. Anand is also known for his beautiful story The Lost Child.

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R. K. Narayan (b. 1906) is the Grand Old Man of Indian English fiction, and The Guide is undoubtedly his greatest work to date. It was the first work by an Indian English writer to win the Sahitya Akademi Award. He has published numerous novels, five collections of short stories (A Horse and Two Goats, An Astrologer's Day, Lawley Road, Malgudi Days, and The Grandmother's Tale), two travel books (My Dateless Diary and The Emerald Route), four collections of essays (Next Sunday, Reluctant Guru, A Writer's Nightmare, and A Story-Teller's World), a memoir (My Days), and some translations of Indian epics and myths The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, and (Gods, Demons and Others). In 1980, R. K. Narayan was awarded the A.C. Benson award by the Royal Society of Literature and was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. R. K. Narayan's published works are:Swami and friends, Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The English Teacher, An Astrologer's Day and other stories, Waiting for the Mahatma, The Man-Eater of Malgudi, My Dateless Diary: An American Journey, The Vendor of Sweets, Malgudi Days, A Tiger for Malgudi and many others.

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Raja Rao (b. 1909) alongwith Mulk Raj Anand and R. K. Narayan constitutes the great trio of the Indian English novel. Of his five novels, Kanthapura (1938), The Serpent and the Rope (1960) and The Cat and Shakespeare (1965) were critically acclaimed. The Serpent and the Rope won the Sahitya Akademi Award and The Chessmaster and His Moves, the first of a trilogy, the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for literature. Raja Rao's famous short stories have been collected in The Cow of the Barricades (1947) and The Policeman and the Rose (1977).

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G. V. Desani (b. 1909) worked as a newspaper correspondent, lecturer and broadcaster in England for more than two decades, before shifting to America where he has been teaching Philosophy since 1970. All About H. Hatterr, a highly experimental work of fiction is his only novel.


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Manohar Malgaonkar (b. 1913), a prominent Indian English novelist, has written the majority of his novels with a historical perspective. His works are a testimony to his narrative skill and his penchant for historical themes of epic dimensions. Distant Drum (1960), Combat of Shadows (1962), The Princes (1963), A Bend in the Ganges (1964) and The Devil's Wind (1972) show him to be a novelist who artistically presents the historical and social milieu, primarily of pre-Independence days and the early years of Independence.

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Khushwant Singh (b. 1915), apart from being a novelist and a short-story writer, is also a reputed editor, columnist and a Sikh historian. Born at Hadali in Western Punjab (now in Pakistan), he was educated in Delhi, Lahore and London. Khushwant Singh first came into public spotlight as the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India. Though he has over thirty books to his credit, Train to Pakistan remains his best known work of fiction. His other works are Delhi and I Shall Not Hear The Nightingale. He is also known for his voluminous and authoritative History of the Sikhs.

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Kamala Markandaya (b. 1924) was born in India and educated at the University of Madras. Apart from her first novel, Nectar in a Sieve, which has been compared with Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, she has published Some Inner Fury (1954), A Silence of Desire (1961), Possession (1963), A Handful of Rice (1966), The Coffer Dams (19690 and Two Virgins (1973). Her depiction of the quintessential aspects of the life of the Indian peasantry in a novel like Nectar in a Sieve, are rendered authentic by the sense of empathy and sincerity that she exudes.

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Nissim Ezekiel (b. 1924) is probably the most influential poet of the post-Independence era which witnessed the birth of modernism in Indian English poetry. A teacher by profession, he is not only a poet but a poet's poet, who has painstakingly nurtured most of the budding talents in Mumbai. Dom Moraes, Adil Jussawalla and Gieve Patel are among those who benefited from Ezekiel's creative inputs. Ezekiel was primarily instrumental in ushering Modernism in the country, with the publication of his first collection of poems titled A Time to Change (1952). His other major works include Sixty Poems (1955); The Third (1958), The Unfinished Man (1960); The Exact Name (1965); Hymns in Darkness (1976); Latter-Day Psalms (1982); and Collected Poems (1989). His poetry is specific, concentrated, made up of 'the ordinariness of most events', and questioned social mores.

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A. K. Ramanujan (1929-1993) is one of the finest Indian English poets to grace the Indian literary horizon. An Imagist poet, a true disciple of William Carlos Williams, Ramanujan's poetry is essentially the petry of 'seeing', of perception. His principal works include his collections of poetry, The Striders, Relations, Second Sight, Selected Poems and his creative translations from ancient Tamil and medieval Kannada poems, The Interior Landscape (1967), Speaking of Shiva (1973), Hymns for the Drowning (1981) and Poems of Love and War (1985). He has also translated some poems of Gopalakrishna Adiga, Song of the Earth and Other Poems (1968) with M. G. Krishnamurthy and U. R. Ananthamurthy's novel, Samskara (1976). His last work, Folk Tales from India (1990) is a piece of brilliant transcreation. A bilingual writer, Ramanujan has published three major collections of poems, a novel and some interesting stories in Kannada.

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Arun Kolatkar (b. 1932), belongs to a group of new Indian English poets who made their presence felt in the 1970s. Also a major poet in Marathi, Kolatkar has shaped a vibrant poetic idiom that blends the searching tone of medieval Bhakti (devotional) poetry with the imagistic precision of modernist poetry. He has penned a volume of poems in Marathi titled Kolatkaranchya Kavita. Jejuri, a poetic sequence of 31 poems in English, won him the Commonwealth Poetry prize for 1977.

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Kamala Das (b. 1934) is perhaps the best-known Indian woman poet writing in English at present. Nowhere can we see the intensity and genuineness of the artist in her more clearly than in her poetry. Her principal works include Summer in Calcutta (1965); The Descendants (1967), The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973); My Story (Autobiography, 1974); Manas (1975); and Alphabet of Lust (1976) (both novels). Among all the Indian English poets of her generation, male or female, she maintains the shortest interval between emotion and expression. Unlike most of other Indian English poets, Kamala Das has not received any academic education or training in poetry writing.She is a bilingual writer, writing short fiction in Malayalam, her mother-tongue, under the pseudonym 'Madhavikutty'.

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Anita Desai (b.1937) is a popular Indian English novelist with a number of novels and collections of short stories to her credit. The all-pervading theme of her works is the contemporary Indian woman, her loneliness and frustration. Clear Light of Day is considered to be the best of her novels, to date. Other works include The Accompanist.Fire on the Mountain (Heinemann, 1978), Games at Twilight (Heinemann, 1979), In Custody (Heinemann, 1984), Baumgartner's Bombay (Heinemann, 1988), and Journey to Ithaca.

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Kiran Nagarkar (1949): married, based in Bombay, Kiran Nagarkar works in an advertising agency. His first novel--in Marathi--Saat Sakkam Trechalis (or Seven Sixes are Forty Three) is a landmark in Marathi literature. His first English novel, Ravan and Eddie, appeared last year. Cuckold is his latest novel

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Vikram Seth (b. 1952) created a furore in the US literary world in 1986, when he published The Golden Gate, the first Indian English novel in verse. Apart from his second novel, A Suitable Boy (1993) his other works include five collections of poetry- Mappings, All You Who Sleep Tonight, The Humble Administrator's Garden, Beastly Tales from Here and There, Three Chinese Poets: Translations and a travelogue titled From Heaven Lake. Seth has also won the Commonwealth Writer's prize.

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Upamanyu Chatterjee (1956): Upamanyu Chatterjee graduated from St Stephen’s, and joined the IAS. Married, with two children, he is chief officer, Bombay Slum Improvement Board. His debut novel, English August: An Indian Story attracted instant notice, and has been made into an award winning film. He has published another novel The Last Burden.

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Shashi Tharoor (1956): Shashi Tharoor studied in Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi. Graduating from St Stephen’s, where he excelled at virtually everything, he joined the UN High Commission for Refugees in 1978 and is now at the UN headquarters in New York. He is married, with twin sons. His first novel The Great Indian Novel won the Commonwealth Award. He has since published Show Business and The Five Dollar Smile, a collection of short-stories.

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Amitav Ghosh (b. 1956) graduated from Delhi University and is a social anthropologist with a D. Phil. from Oxford. He has worked with the Indian Express and taught at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Virginia and Columbia University. His first novel, The Circle of Reason (1986) written in the modernist mode of magical realism was highly acclaimed and has been translated into several European languages.The Circle of Reason won the Prix Medici Estranger, a top French literary award; The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi award; His latest novel In An Antique Land (1992) is a fascinating amalgam of field notes and historical imagination, wherein Ghosh's academic discipline, extensive travel and creative mastery find full play. Calcutta Chromosome is his recent novel.
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Arundhati Roy: Her first novel, The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize for the year 1997 become an international literary sensation and a bestseller as soon as it came out.. Roy, was paid a total of 5,00,000 pounds in advances by 18 publishers worldwide thereby creating history in the publishing field. Brought up in Kerala, Roy, trained as an architect in New Delhi, where she still lives with her film-maker husband, Pradeep Kishen. She wrote screenplays for television and films, her most successful feature film being Electric Moon, before locking herself away to write The God of Small Things. Drawn from experiences in Roy’s life, it tells the tragic story of a Syrian Christian family from Aymenem, in Kerala, riven by internal jealousies and divided by social prejudices. Its unique structure and lyrical prose makes for an brilliant debut.
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