Post-colonial Indian English literature brings to the fore the stories of the societies that existed. The beginning of Indian literature in English, with relation to colonialism, can very much be traced to the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, by which time English education was more or less steadfastly grounded in the three major centres of British power in India - Kolkata
. However, the changes came in the pattern of Indian English literature during the post colonial era.
Post-colonialism in Indian English literature can be termed as the continual shaking off of the old skin of Western thought and the emergence of new consciousness and cognisance, critique and celebration. And with this new awareness, comes the concept of self-expression. In a country like India, prior to 1947, most people branded and recognised themselves as `Indians`, against the identity of their British tyrants and tormentors. There could be perceived a potential feeling of communal, national identity, nurtured by a shared antipathy and bitterness of the British colonial prowess.
Post-colonial English literature in India works through the process of "writing back", "re-writing" and "re-reading". This delineates the rendering of well-known literature from the point of view of the formerly colonised. Indian English Literature (IEL), as was seen before, pertains to that body of work by writers in India, who pen in the English language and whose native or co-native language could be one of the several regional languages of India. It is also associated with the works of members of the Indian Diaspora, especially people like Salman Rushdie, who was born in India but raised outside. This body of Indian English literature is commonly referred to as Indo-Anglian literature. (Indo-Anglian is a specific term in the exclusive context of writing, which however is not confused with the expression Anglo-Indian). As a category, this production comes under the broader realm of post-colonial English literature in India - the brilliant production from previously colonised countries such as India.
Salman Rushdie`s novel, Midnight`s Children, in this extremely complex context of post-colonial Indian English literature, can be viewed as the quintessential fictional novel for illustrating the near overwhelming and implausible difficulties, innate in creating a national identity amongst a hugely heterogeneous post-colonial society. Bapsi Sidhwa echoes this very same theme in her novel - the post-colonial Indian English literature and its unseen maturation - Cracking India. She accesses this same idea of Indian society drawing itself apart in its quest for a collective, post-colonial, national identity by concentring upon one small neighbourhood in the Punjab district.
Novelists like Kamala Markandaya (Nectar in a Sieve, Some Inner Fury, A Silence of Desire, Two Virgins), Manohar Malgaonkar (Distant Drum, Combat of Shadows, The Princes, A Bend in the Ganges and The Devil`s Wind), Anita Desai (Clear Light of Day, The Accompanist, Fire on the Mountain, Games at Twilight) and Nayantara Sehgal could subtly capture the spirit of an independent India, struggling to break away from the British and traditional Indian cultures and establish a distinct identity, thus beginning to usher in the tremendous era of post-colonial Indian English literature.
During late nineteen seventies that a new breed of Convent, boarding-school educated and elite class of novelists and writers, that started to emerge, who forever had chalked out a plan to alter the map of post-colonial Indian English literature. The likes of Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh, Shashi Tharoor
set the literature world on fire. Salman Rushdie` s ` Midnight Children had won Booker in 1981 and Arundhati Roy
and Kiran Desai
repeated the feat, when they won Man Booker in the year 1997 and 2006 respectively. In the mean time, a new crop of authors such as Pankaj Misra, Chetan Bhagat, Jhumpa Lahiri
, William Dalrymple, Hari Kunzuru had already alighted on the international arena and their writings are very much appreciated and acclimatised round the globe.
During the 1980`s and 90`s, India emerged as a significant and decisive literary nation. Salman Rushdie`s Midnight`s Children turned into a passionate object around the world. The worldwide accomplishment of Vikram Seth`s The Golden Gate made him the first writer of the Indian Diasporas to enter the field of international writers and leave an unforgettable mark on the global literary panorama. Other novelists of repute of the contemporary times post-colonial Indian English literature, comprise - Shobha De
(Selective Memory), G.V. Desani, M Ananthanarayanan, Bhadani Bhattacharya, Arun Joshi, Khushwant Singh
, O.V. Vijayan, Allan Sealy (The Trotternama), Shashi Tharoor (Show Business, The Great Indian Novel), Amitav Ghosh (Circle of Reason, Shadow Lines), Upamanyu Chatterjee
(English August, The Mammaries of the Welfare State), Raj Kamal Jha
(The Blue Bedspread), Amit Chaudhuri
(A New World), Pankaj Mishra (Butter Chicken in Ludhiana, The Romantics) and Vikram Chandra
(Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Love and Longing in Bombay).
The latest Indian writer who lifted up the world by a storm was Arundhati Roy, whose The God of Small Things earned the 1997 Booker Prize and became an international best-seller overnight. Rohinton Mistry
, Firdaus Kanga, Kiran Desai (Strange Happenings in the Guava Orchard), Sudhir Kakar (The Ascetic of Desire), Ardeshir Vakil (Beach Boy) and Jhumpa Lahiri
(Interpreter of Maladies) are some other renowned writers of Indian origin, penning for post-colonial Indian English literature. Former Prime Minister P.V. Sthanam Narasimha Rao
`s The Insider; Satish Gujral
`s A Brush with Life; R.K. Laxman`s The Tunnel of Time, Prof. Bipin Chandra Pal
`s India After Independence, Sunil Khilnani`s The Idea of India, J.N. Dixit`s Fifty Years of India`s Foreign Policy, Yogesh Chadha`s Rediscovering Gandhi and Pavan K. Varma`s The Great Indian Middle Class are also some of the prominent works of recent times.
The mid-20th century once more witnessed the emergence of poets such as Nissim Ezekiel
(The Unfurnished Man), P Lal, A K Ramanujan (The Striders, Relations, Second Sight, Selected Poems), Dom Moraes (A Beginning), Keki Daruwalla, Geive Patel, Eunice de Souza, Adil Jussawala, Kamala Das
, Arun Kolatkar
and R. Parthasarathy, who were profoundly influenced by literary movements taking place in the West, such as Symbolism, Surrealism, Existentialism, and Confessional Poetry. These authors as such, made use of Indian phrases together with English words and tried to reflect a blend of the Indian and the Western cultures, still turning out to be the most promising under the post-colonial Indian English literary genre.