Narrative of Indian Diasporic Writing: A New Perspective on the Women Writers of the Diaspora

Musarrat Shameem

Jagannath University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Volume 8, Number 1, 2016 I Full Text PDF


This article addresses two connected topics in the same breath. The first portion discusses the background, development and present state of Indian diasporic writing, its reception and the controversy around it. The next part of the article focuses on the complexities diasporic Indian women writers face as representatives of their country of origin. The alleged exoticization and orientating of Indian experience by diasporic Indian women writers is discussed at length. A thorough study of different types of feminism is done in this second part to show how the women writers can arrive at an assimilated approach to accommodate the various issues concerning diasporic female characters that people their work. Therefore, this article starts with a panoramic view of Indian diasporic writing; then the theme narrows down to the problematization of diasporic women writers’ works. Finally, a suggested approach is put forward as to how diasporic Indian women writers may accommodate both first and third world feminist issues on a greater level in their works.

Keywords: Indian diasporic writing, diasporic women writers, feminism


Indian writing in English is increasingly gaining accolade among readers and prize-panel judges. In recent years, Indian writing in English has achieved some phenomenal success in the form of prizes and best selling status. The history of English writing in India is perhaps best understood from a retrospective glance at its colonial past. Many texts show an engagement with the history of the subcontinent in terms of strong emotions like joy and horror. The Independence and subsequent Partition in the 1940s left indelible marks on Indian writers and their narratives. Apart from this, according to Morey (2000), blending “written and oral traditions, teleological and cyclical understandings of history and narrative and a re-invigoration of both language and genre” give Indian writing a unique identity (Morey, 2000, p.16). The postcolonial novel, some best examples of which coming from India, has been able to free itself from the “long shadow of British writers” and “has in some sense now come to be that main road, rather than some shady and slightly exotic side street”(Morey, 2000, p. 16). However, despite the specific standard of Indian English writing its reception was initially ambivalent.

The emergence of Indian novel and its reception has undergone a series of major shifts. The history of English literary criticism, having been born in the shade of high imperialism in the nineteenth century, was Eurocentric enough to consider tropical literature as inferior. The most spectacular change that took place in Indian English literature’s narrative technique coincides with India’s journey from colonial to postcolonial phase. The history of Indian English literature indicates certain points of progress, points of departure from a former period towards a new one. This periodisation has been noted by Gita Rajan (2006) in the following words “[t]he gradual progression of story-telling from colonial to postcolonial and cosmopolitan modes (i.e., from Forster to Rushdie, and more importantly, to the contemporary, emerging focus on ethics in literature)” (p.139), the modes of narration she mentions change with major historical shifts. Full Text PDF

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