The Indian novel in English has suddenly opened India up to the world. It can be considered the most delightful reason for readers all around the globe to enter Indian life and enjoy the world view that India has stood for. Indian fiction, which includes short stories and novellas, has turned out to be substantially different to the contemporary novel being written elsewhere, particularly because it has continued to embrace literary fiction even now. Besides, it still has that commodity which the West no longer considers so relevant; it has a God looking on from somewhere, however obliquely. Yes, there have been writers like Chetan Bhagat who have taken Indian fiction towards a lighter side of life but a number of our writers have kept up the tradition of more serious fiction in that they have never cut themselves off entirely from the more qualitative kinds of comic and tragic expression. Our novelists have embraced other cultures like the American as well as the European, blending it with values that are Indian. India has remained at the centre of Indian fiction and we have seen newer images of India in the pages of Arundhati Roy, Aravind Adiga, Amitav Ghosh and Vikas Swarup. Thus while Jhumpa Lahiri and Salman Rushdie have made the novel more global, Vikram Seth, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande and others have opened up the soul of India to anyone who would care to come to terms with it.
More and more people across the world have been able to see India steadily and see it whole because the pages of Indian fiction have pulled them towards it. Indian fiction has scraped off the dust that had gathered over the picture of India after colonialist perceptions of this nation came in the way of looking upon India without prejudice.
I could not help writing of India as one who believes that India has the key to a number of problems that are plaguing the world. The Tailor’s Needle, Marriages are Made in India, and the forthcoming, Intriguing Women, are all works that reveal what India has always stood for. This is what E M Forster was looking for when he came to India and gave to the world his masterpiece, A Passage to India.
Lakshmi Raj Sharma