"Put India in the Atlantic Ocean," Salman Rushdie writes in his introduction to this anthology of Indian writers, "and it would reach from Europe to America; put India and China together and you've got almost half the population of the world. It's high time Indian literature got itself noticed, and it's happening." It's no accident that Mirrorwork
comprises Indian literature produced during the 50 years between 1947 and 1997; timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, this collection is, above all, a celebration of the marriage of English language and Indian culture. Rushdie rather provocatively states that "the prose writing--both fiction and non-fiction--created in this period by Indian writers writing in English
is proving to be a stronger and more important body of work than most of what has been produced in the 16 'official languages' of India; the so-called 'vernacular languages,' during the same time." One might (and certainly many will) quibble with this premise, but no one can argue that the works included in Mirrorwork
Many of the authors included in this collection are known to Western readers--Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, for example, Arundhati Roy, Rohinton Mistry, and of course Rushdie himself, to name just a few. Others, such as Saadat Hasan Manto (the only author here to appear in translation) or G.V. Desani, may be welcome new reading experiences. The anthology is a fascinating mix of nonfiction (Nehru's famous "Tryst with Destiny" speech, in which he uttered the immortal words "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom," or Nayantara Sahgal's "With Pride and Prejudice") and fiction that ranges from the "Stendhalian realism of a writer like Rohinton Mistry" to Rushdie's own wild flights of fantasy. In all its diversity of styles, themes, and approaches, Mirrorwork is a reflection of the wonderful bedfellows the English language and the Indian sensibility truly make. --Alix Wilber
From Library Journal
This compendium of fiction and nonfiction brings together work from the biggest names of the Indian literary renaissance among its 32 selections. Rushdie's introduction defends the book's focus on work written in English.
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