Monday, August 01, 2011

Adil Jussawala on Indian Writers in English (IWE)

The following is written about Indian writers by poet and writer Adil Jussawala, whom I admire for his erudition (I grew up reading his learned essays, mostly in magazines like Debonair, which was supposed to be for intelligent males and had lots of pin-up girls. I don't know if it [the magazine] exists anymore.):

The resilience of individual writers has helped them survive the worst shocks of history, and there's nothing so bad about the situation in India that will silence its writers permanently. But if Indians who write in English don't normally consider it important to produce novels of social history or write poetry that fully confronts the social and political realities of their time—despite their real admiration for such work from other countries—there must be a reason—perhaps several reasons—and I think it's important to examine them. Some of us, certainly, are going through a crisis which is making us question the validity of our work and our usefulness as agents of social change. Now, more than ever before, we are unsure of ourselves as witnesses. Far from helping to change the course of history, we are finding ourselves its bullied victims. It's as though History had become the Englishman in Victor Anant's novel The Revolving Man, telling the writer, as the Englishman tells the novel's protagonist, "Spin, you Hindu bastard. Spin!" And the bastard goes on spinning.

I read this and weep. Truly, we, Indian Writers in English (IWE) do not change the course of history, we are its bullied victims. If we speak out frankly against the shortcomings of our own society we are maligned, beaten, threatened, derided, abused, laughed at.

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