Modern Indian Literature
Fulfills the L&S breadth requirements in Arts & Literature.
The introduction of economic reforms in the early nineteen nineties ushered in a phase of unprecedented economic, social and political transformation in India. With growth rates second only to China, India displayed a newfound confidence that was reflected in marketing/political slogans such as “India Shining.” With the recent global economic slowdown, however, the “India story” has lost much of its shine and has prompted a reevaluation of the past two decades. What did the reforms mean for the most vulnerable and marginalized populations of India? Has the much-vaunted economic growth been inclusive? With this backdrop in mind, we turn to literature in order to examine the promise of equity and social justice in modern India. Although the focus is on the recent past, our material is not limited to literature stemming only from the post-liberalization period. We will reach further back in order to take a longer view on the focal themes of this class: caste, class and language.
We will read three exemplary works of Hindi literature in English translation: Upendranath Ashk’s Hats and Doctors, Omprakash Valmiki’s Jhoothan: An Untouchable’s Life and Uday Prakash’s The Girl with the Golden Parasol. We will also read Arvind Adiga’s Booker prize winning novel The White Tiger and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction.