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Dr.S. Rukmini’s Review of K. V. Dominic’s (ed) Concepts and Contexts of Diasporic Literature of India

Dominic, K. V., ed. Concepts and Contexts of Diasporic Literature of India, Delhi: GNOSIS, 2011. Pp. Xx+295. Rs.775/- Hardbound. ISBN-978-93-81030-24-0

                             Dr. S. Rukmini

The book under review entitled, Concepts and Contexts of Diaspora Literature of India edited by Dr. K. V. Dominic is a platform created by him intended to help the audience to gain knowledge of Diasporic Writers, for it is a collection of critical study on the works of Indian Diasporic Writers. The book has one interview and 25 critical articles penned by various contributors who include writers, professors and scholars. Of the 25 articles, seven are on V. S. Naipaul, two on Salman Rushdie, five on Jhumpa Lahiri, two on Aravind Adiga, one on Bharati Mukherjee, two on Amitav Ghosh, two on Kiran Desai,  one on Usha Akella, one on Kamala Markandeya, one on Indo-Canadian Diaspora, and one on the Politics of Home in the South Pacific. All of them are based on the truth that Diasporic Writers of India are preferred today to native English Writers for the basic reason that the Diasporic writers of India wield English as their first language and Mother tongue as opined by the editor, K. V. Dominic in his Preface.

The Book undertakes the critical study carried out on 9 renowned Diasporic Writers like the Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul, the Booker Prize Winners like Salman Rushdie, Aravind Adiga and other established writers like Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee, Sunetra Gupta, Kamala Markandeya and Stephen Gill. It also contains an interview with the writer Shanta Acharya.

Among the seven articles on V. S. Naipual two are by C. Gangalakshmi and G. Bhaskaran. In one of their articles they opine that literature is expression that shares the feelings and emotions of a particular person or group where creativity acts as colours to make it beautiful. V. S. Naipaul’s difficulties as an expatriate diagnosed as dislocation, migration, exile, alienation and rootlessness has been traced and analyzed.  In the other article, the two authors delve deeply into V. S. Naipaul’s Half a Life throwing much light on the search for the roots of the Diaspora-born in an alien country that falls under postcolonialism. Madhurima Srivastava in her article explores the commitment to the dramatisation of Diasporic sensibility which Naipaul has adhered to almost unswervingly throughout his fictional oeuvre. Rishi Pal Singh in his article analyses “the intimate experiences and influences that went in shaping the splendid vision and sensibility of this literary giant who maintains a surgeon-like objectivity while dissecting the mutual maladies of the colonized as well as the colonisers” (23). Satendra Kumar and Balkar Singh in their article throw much light on the conflict between Identity and Reality with reference to Naipaul’s novel, In a Free State. Veena Shukla in her article delves deeply into Naipaul’s The Mimic Men and states that he “does not belong to those coteries who are nostalgic about their homelands; instead he has successfully expunged the sense of belonging to his original homeland by opting to wear the mantle of a ‘writer in exile’” (50). Gauri Shankar Jha in his article shows the great influence Gandhi had in Indian writings which include Indian Writing in English and Indian Diaspora Writing. They infer that V. S. Naipaul attempts to redefine Gandhi in respect of cultural praxis, variations in structuring of identity and shifts in identity crisis.

Prasenjit Das in his article gives a psychoanalytical reading of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace with respect to the aspect of Identity and Subjectivity. Abdulmonium Ali Ben Ali and Lingaraj Gandhi explores Rushdie’s Shame is a tale of Sexual myth and they further “propose to define and examine the pattern of myth, and explore how it is represented in the behavior of the male and female characters in the novel” (82).

 Among the six articles on Jhumpa Lahiri’s fiction Aju Mukhopadhyaya in his article contemplates on how Jhumpa Lahiri was prone to writing. Lahiri asserts “I will continue to write about this world, because it inspires me to write, and there’s nothing more important than that” (99). Aju Mukhopadhyaya focuses on how Jhumpa Lahiri interprets Cultural Mix and Clash through her novels by portraying certain circumstances a person confronts in an alien world. Anisha Rajan in her article throws  light on  the identity crises faced by children born to immigrant parents neither are they able to fulfill their parent’s aspirations nor accepted by the whites as one among them. Priyanka Tripathi and H. S. Komalesha in their article have attempted to examine the seminal role Diaspora plays in building as well as breaking human relationships in the backdrop of Jhumpa Lahiri’s short fiction. S. Sujatha in her article focuses on the dynamics of cultural displacement in Lahiri’s two novels Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. Sujatha says that the immigrant experience is complicated as a sensitive immigrant finds himself or herself perpetually at a transit station fraught with memories of the original home which are struggling with the realities of the new world. Thus space plays a pivotal role in post colonialism. K. Vani in her article attempts to capture the trauma experienced by the diasporic subjects in The Namesake.

Amit Shankar Saha in his article speculates on how the west is changing and the reaction of the diasporic writers response to the change. The west is developing multi–ethnic understanding of national identity that is more inclusive. Anand Balwant Patil   makes “an analysis comparatively of the politics of home and interculturalism in the South Pacific countries with a special reference to three literary texts produced by the Fijian writers in the postcolonial period” (172). Cielo G. Festino   in his article explores on how the element of Nation constituting an ideological and emotional process deeply affected the subcontinent after the independence. The paper aims at considering whether in The White Tiger, and through  his metaphor of ‘Dark India,’ the Indian writer Aravind Adiga actually re-orientalise India, when in the markedly hybrid context of the  globalised subcontinent, he satirises present day India divided between tradition and globalization.

Eliza Joseph   in her article focuses on the theme of post colonialism i.e., the search for identity and getting back to their roots. The author opines that Desirable Daughters tries to project the problems of Assimilation faced by South Asians in America and further sums up as Desired Daughters “proclaims that both expatriate and immigrants cannot sever themselves entirely from their cultural roots and their ethnic past” (206).

Elizabeth Lucy in her article focuses on the loss of identity and the immigrants learning to assimilate seeking liberation and fulfilment due to globalization. Khalid Sultan Thabet Abdu and M. H. Rudramuni in their article discern that Amitav Ghosh blends the past events with the present situation in a non-chronological order.  Krishna Singh’s article suggests that there must be a global rejection of violence and its ideology which is a legacy of the West’s colonization of the East.

Nilanshu Agarwal shares his experience from the interview with Shanta Acharya as a poet and author of several books on asset management.  Acharya says that one uses whatever experience, vocabulary, language style at one’s disposal. She does not worry too much about critics so long as she is true. Unless one is commissioned to write a poem, or has a distinct agenda, there is no reason to limit oneself when exploring ideas, themes and language. To her poetry is all about seeing life originally.

V. V. B. Rama Rao in his article infers that “the spiritual journey from anaahata to Sahasraara is a matter of divine grace. Reaching the destination is a state of filling the hridaya, mind-heart with aardrata, a state of the divine wetness” (256). One way of understanding aardrata is to see it as the end achievement of an artistic effort that can result in a poem, a picture or a performance.

V. Ramesh contemplates on “the tribulations, eccentricities and attitudes that victimize Indian Womanhood” (273). She opines that in the search for liberation woman should never be advocated to adopt unlimited and unfettered conduct by sidelining the social structure and principles of practice of tradition or convention.

Stephen Gill in his article gives an overview of exactly what is Diaspora, how it originated, its background and development since its origin till date. Stephen Gill avers that “Diasporans usually are not happy anywhere, and suffer silently” (275). In one of his poems he describes it as ‘dry bones of their silence.’  Bringing a new dimension to Diaspora he states that Indo-Canadians bear more dissimilarities with the word Diaspora than similarities. It has been taken as a synonym for immigrants.

S. Sujatha in her article states that “multiculturalism as confined to the western metropolis and academy, doesn’t address the causes of extremism and violence in the modern world nor does it suggest that economic globalization is means of achieving prosperity for the downtrodden” (295).

To sum up, the book presents a good collection of articles that discusses on the problems of the Diaspora and Immigrants.  It also discusses the problems confronted by the Diaspora because of the impact of Globalization. I hope the book would be very helpful for the research scholars as it has dealt the problems of the Diaspora from all the dimensions in life namely, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

 

Dr. S. Rukmini, Assistant Professor of English, GIT, Gitam University, Rushikonda, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India.