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Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997 Paperback – August 15, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (August 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805057102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805057102
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"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 aren't top-drawer.

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.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book, edited by Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West, was published in 1997 and contained 32 writers and as many works, created in the 50 years after India's independence. There were 14 extracts from novels, 12 short stories, 4 excerpts from memoirs, 1 excerpt from a nonfiction novel, and 1 speech.

As far as could be determined, more than two-thirds of the pieces came from the 1980s and 90s, and a fifth from the 1940s and 50s. There seemed to be very little from the 1960s and 70s.

Though this was an anthology of Indian writing, also included were works by two authors from Pakistan -- Bapsi Sidhwa (1938-) and Sara Suleri (1953-) -- together with another who left India for Pakistan, Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55). And Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-), a woman of Jewish heritage who was born in Germany and married to an Indian. V. S. Naipaul, according to Rushdie's introduction, declined inclusion in the collection.

Nearly all the writers selected had spent some years living in the West or currently live there. The few exceptions, as far as could be judged, were Narayan, Manto, Ray, Chatterjee and Roy.

In his introduction, Rushdie generated some controversy by stating that in the course of compilation he'd found Indian prose in English during the period was proving to be stronger and more important than writing in the vernacular languages, and that the writing in English was perhaps India's most valuable contribution to the world of books. As a result, all but one of the selections made for the anthology were written originally in that language. Of works in the many vernacular languages, only Manto's piece from the 1950s, translated from Urdu, was judged worthy of inclusion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
It would be really unfair to say the book has not been a representative collection of Indian writing in English. It is, though a few glaring points puts it at a disadvantage to become a volume to be cherished. The editors' seems to have allowed their backgrounds and biases to rule which determined their choice to large extent. This could have been avoided had the editors gave a harder look on the literary environment in India which is rapidly changing for the better. Much of the excellent work produced in vernacular languages is conveniently forgotten ascribing lack of good translation - a reason which simply does not hold water. And, if the all time favourite 'Tryst with Destiny'is included, no harm would have come if one of much sought after editorials by VN Narayanan or a science fiction was included. A translated piece of Hindi heartland politics mirrored by say, Rahi Masoom Raza could fill the gap. The absence of the enigmatic Khushwant Singh disturbs. The collection gives a fair space to new writers of the subcontinent, even if they are now based outside India. However, it remains skewed towards the age old mysticism and bullock carts in an age where these are pushed to the background by the fast enveloping modernity and automation. it is forgotten that we have a thriving middle class and a large educated elite which is crying to be heard and represented in our stories. For a book claiming to represent 50 years of writing, it is a bit focussed narrowly. The collection, though remains a must read. I read it over a long stretch of time, finishing many other volumes inthe the meantime, and would recommend the same way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Abhijeet A. Chachad on March 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I bought my copy inspite of reading severeal reviews criticizing Mr. Rushdie's choice of literature to represent Indian writing. ALthough I agree with most of the ctiticism, I was pleasently surprised to find that I did like the book immensely. It had been many years since I had read authors such as Anita Desai, and works such as Nayantara Sahgal's "With Pride and Prejudice" were enough for me to oversome the prejudice that I had in my when I started off reading it.
Had Mr. Rushdie not claimed to have collected works representing the entire Indian literature spectrum, he could have been fended a lot of the criticism that this book received.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this anthology quite a bit.It may be "self-serving and slanted towards his friends" but his friends write *well* and I enjoyed reading their work. His introduction is especially good and addresses several issues that are mentioned above.
No one should expect an anthology to be complete- their very nature is to exclude more than they include.
I appreciate seeing some of my favorite "Indian" authors in print (Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy among others) and I look forward to a companion edition in the future.
If anyone would like to recommend another anthology of post-indepence Indian fiction I would be interested in hearing about it.
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