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The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature Paperback – November 9, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Edited by novelist Amit Chaudhuri (A New World), The Vintage Book of Modern Indian Literature gives a broad sense of the subcontinent's literary traditions from the mid-19th century to the present day, including works translated from Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and other Indian languages. Colonial-era writers like Rabindranath Tagore are featured beside 20th-century figures such as R.K. Narayan, Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth as well as upstarts like Pankaj Mishra. The anthology includes not only fiction but also autobiographical writing and the occasional essay.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Acclaimed writer Salman Rushdie has argued that there have been no decent Indian authors writing in their native languages in the last 50 years. This anthology, compiled by Calcutta writer and novelist Chaudhuri (A New World), not only disproves Rushdie's assertion but also helps to enhance our appreciation of a body of work least accessible to an English-speaking public. Dating from the 1850s to the present, the eclectic mix of narratives and stories includes selections from works by 20 writers who use vernacular Indian languages and 18 writers who work mainly in English. It thus ably represents the excellence and diversity of narrative traditions and literary approaches in a multilingual, multiconfessional country. Among the most famous authors showcased are Nobel Laureate Rabindramath Tagore, who in addition to five short letters, writes here about an amorous relationship between a small-town postal inspector and a servant girl; 19th-century novelist B. Chatterjee, who wrote in both English and Bengali about colonial society and Hinduism; and, of course, Rushdie, who is represented by a selection from Midnight's Children, which deals symbolically with the difficult birth of the new nation-state of India. Even though it is not fully representative of the last 150 years of a vivid literary tradition, as Chaudhuri himself acknowledges, this excellent anthology is highly recommended for most collections. Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037571300X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713002
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Animesh Ray on October 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brilliant collection of literary pieces, spanning a ~150 year period, written by "Indian" authors in English or one of several languages of the subcontinent. The pieces have been organized by Chaudhuri, an Indian author who writes mostly in English but is fluent in at least two Indian languages. As Chaudhuri explains, the range of style, theme, and literary traditions practised by authors in the Indian subcontinent is at least as prolific, and ancient, as that in the West. This anthology gives an English-speaking reader a cross-section of that range. The chosen pieces sparkle with brilliance and radiate rare charm. Adorned with Chaudhuri's erudite prose and intimate knowledge (for example, we are informed that Tagore's experiments with the European short-story form slightly predated its introduction to the English language) the book is a feast.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book, published in 2004, was the U.S. version of the Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature, published in the U.K. in 2001. Both books contained the same 55 works by 39 writers. There were 18 short stories, 13 excerpts from novels, 7 letters, 6 essays, 4 excerpts from essays, 3 excerpts from autobiographies, 3 autobiographical short stories and 1 excerpt from a nonfiction novel.

About half of the works were written originally in English. Another quarter was translated from Bengali. What space remained was given to pieces translated from Urdu (4), Hindi (3), Malayalam (2), and Kannada, Tamil and Oriya (one each).

The works ranged from the 1850s to the 1990s. Those from the 19th century were either from English or Bengali. The author emphasized particularly the 19th century Bengali Renaissance and included from that period a few pieces by Michael Dutt (1824-94), a very brief extract from an early novel by Bankimchandra Chatterjee (1838-94) and some writing by Tagore (1861-1941). For the 20th century as a whole, the great majority of the works in the book were from the 1940s to 90s, especially the latter two decades. There was nothing from the 1930s or 70s.

For the 20th century, just over half the works in the book were written originally in English. For the rest, the pieces from Bengali included extracts from the classic 1920s novel Panther Panchali by Bibhuti Banerjee (1894-1950) and a novel by Buddhadev Bose (1908-74), some short works by the humorists Parashuram (1880-1960) and Sukumar Ray (1887-1923), and a short story by Mahasweta Devi (1926-). There were only a few pieces in Bengali from after the time of partition. On the other hand, for the selections from the other vernacular languages, most were written after partition.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By NaughtiLiterati VINE VOICE on May 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is the perfect companion to the Storywallah collection edited by Shyam Selvadurai. The selection is also bigger and includes authors whose works were translated from other languages, and each story/excerpt/essay/poem is truly thought-provoking and simply a pleasure to read because you learn so much about the nuances of specific cultures in all parts of India. The other reviewer summarized how awesome it is (especially if you're an Indophile like me!!) and I can't add enough good things about it so just take both our word for it.

Not only that, the cover is so beautiful that I'm ordering another copy - one to read and one to leave on the shelf so it doesn't get damaged in any way. THIS is what a fulfilling, informative and sensational anthology should be! I'm SO glad I have it.
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