Suneetha Balakrishnan takes us on a literary journey across India
What is your favourite book by an Indian writer?
If – like so many of us- you end up choosing a Salman Rushdie, a Vikram Seth, an Amitav Ghosh- or even throw in a vote for one of the older masters like R.K Narayan or Anita Desai- you are missing out.
It is easy to conflate Indian Writing with Indian Writing in English, but that does a grave injustice to the tradition of writing and storytelling in other languages. The fierce feminism of Mahashweta Devi, the quiet nihilism of MT Vasudevan Nair, the spare European sensibilities of Nirmal Verma- all are as good a representation of Indian literature as any, and deserve to be read by a wider audience.
We were thrilled to come across writer Suneetha Balakrishnan’s project Reading Across India, where she is on a mission to read and introduce literature from across the country. Suneetha is a journalist and a bi-lingual translator herself, whose writings include a Malayalam translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, and articles for The Hindu Metro Plus, The Hindu Literary Review, The Business Standard, The Economic Times, Caravan, Muse India and thehoot.org.
She began her project on the blog Mslexia by introducing six wonderful women writers with their own distinct viewpoints – Sara Joseph from Malayalam, Sivakami from Tamil, Shanta Gokhale from Marathi, Indira Goswami from Assamese, Asha Poorna Devi from Bengali, and Krishna Sobti from Hindi.
Over the next few months we will occasionally be publishing snippets of Suneetha’s journey through the world of Indian Literature. We begin this week her thoughts on Tamil Writer Perumal Murugan – writer of Madhorubhaghan- who recently publicly renounced his life as an author after religious groups protested his book.
If you have suggestions for books from your language that deserve a wider audience, do tell us in the comments below. And keep checking this page for links to the next instalment of Reading Across India.