Indian Writing in English: Past and Present, Amar Nath Prasad, (Ed.)New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2004, Price-600/-, Pages 295, ISBN-81-7625-442-8

To study Indian literature in English in the light of our customs, traditions and ancient culture is a little bit difficult because we cannot surely point to a particular factor, reason or a merit which can be the sole cause of its inter-mingling or which was chiefly adopted by our poets, fiction writers or the dramatist in their respective genres. The gradual but constant development in the field of India English writing has now reached to a point where we can feel that our literature in English has distinguished itself as a separate branch of knowledge in world literature.

Amar Nath Prasad, a teacher at Jagdam College, J.P.  University, Chapra Bihar, is a man gifted with flair of writing. By editing over a dozen of books on Indian English literature Dr. Prasad has contributed a lot to literature. The present volume is additional one in this regard wherein 23 research papers Indian English fiction, poetry and drama are included. In the book six papers on R. K. Narayan, three on Girish Karnad, two on Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Interpreter of melodies’, two on Kamla Markenday’s Nectar in a Sieve and single article on R. P Jhabvala, Anita Desai, Bharti Mukherji,  Rajendra Singh, Salman Rushdie, Khushvant Singh, Sri Aurobindo and Vijay Tendulkar or their works are included. The contributors in the book are well known critics as well as scholars who in their papers have remained objective and critical. Amar Nath Prasad’s article on R. K. Narayan’s ‘The Guide’: A work of technical perfection’ exhibits that Narayan’s Guide has successfully depicted the ‘Indian reality in all its simplicity and clarity’ and he seems aright when he says that Narayan ‘… is concerned life more as it is – life its various manifestations in the life of a common man’.

                Another significant article by Prof O P Mathur on ‘The Evolution of Self in R. K. Narayan’s major women characters’ takes out significant role of modern woman who are progressing ahead with their own selves. The third article The Dark Room: a moving tale of a tormented wife by Dr. Darshana Trivedi focuses the life of Savitri who has no identity of her own. Each torments of her life is finely discussed. The fourth article by Prof. K.K. Gaur ‘Women in the Novels of Maturity in R. K. Narayan’ again brings forth the different facets of the life of women in Narayan’s novels but the conclusion lacks the inclusions of majors facts pointed out in the whole article. The next article ‘The Mother-Portraiture’ by Dr. Neeraj Kumar is well written. The theme raised, is quite different and untold. In the last article ‘Tradition Verses Modernity’ An interpretation of R. K. Narayan’s The Vendor of Sweets Dr. Kanhaiya Jee Jha discuses all the novels of R. K. Narayan as a whole with full accuracy.

 There are three articles on Girish Karnad. The first article ‘India then and now the contemporary relevance of Girish Karnad’s tale- Danda’ by Rupalee Burke, ‘Fall of a Sultan: A Study of Tughlaq’ by Jaydeep Sarangi, and Indianness in Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana by Manoj K Sinha have critical insight as well as objectively in dealing with subject matter.

 The book could be much better if the editor remained more careful in selection of authors for study. He has selected three to four papers on one author. Rather if he curtails one paper on one author, he would have given peace to some other renowned writers. Besides, he has selected papers on fiction writers. Only one article on Sri Aurobindo is included in the book. Indian English poets should also be included keeping in view of the historical perspectives Indian English poetry and their contribution to Indian & world literature.

The book is beautifully designed in hard bond with attractive red-brown jacket. Dr. Amar Nath Prasad deserves high commendation for editing the book and conferring a good book of criticism to Indian English scholars.

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