Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BlogHop :: International Authors' Day

I rarely get an opportunity to showcase some of the less well known writers I enjoy, but as part of International Authors Day (which is actually four days), arranged by Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay, I'll share some of the authors I've found during my visits to South India. Several of these writers are known in the United States, but I found the books noted here first in India.

As a member of the Nehru family, Nayantara Sahgal was expected to succeed in whatever she chose to do in life. She chose to write, and has produced a number of novels and memoirs. My favorite is a short novel titled MISTAKEN IDENTITY, set in 1929 about the son of a minor raja caught up in the Quit India movement, arrested and carted off to prison.

The struggle for dignity and independence is explored by another writer, Sarah Thomas. In DAIVAMAKKAL, or Children of God, a dalit woman is determined to claim a better life for her son through education. "Children of God" is the name Mahatma Gandhi gave to the Untouchables of India, and Thomas succeeds in bringing the struggles and achievements of this community to life through the story of Kunjikannan.

Sarah Joseph explores questions of faith in OTHAPPU, or The Scent of the Other Side. The novel is a critique of Christianity and what the author regards as the distorted forms it has taken in South India.

Thrity Umrigar captures the chasms that open between women of different castes, no matter how closely intertwined their lives, in THE SPACE BETWEEN US. In the rarefied world of the Bombay upper classes, Sera leans on her maidservant, Bhima, a woman of no power who can do little to protect her own family when the time comes.

Not nearly as well known in the United States as she should be is Anita Nair. Her recent mystery, CUT LIKE WOUND, suggests a new direction in her work. Inspector Borei Gowda is faced with the confounding deaths of a number of young male prostitutes. Taking place in Bangalore over little more than a month, the novel plays on all the tropes of crime fiction with a few Indian twists added to the form. Nair's novel MISTRESS tells a love story through the nine basic emotions of the traditional dance-drama art form called Kathakali.

Another favorite writer for me and many others is Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Perhaps best known for her novel HEAT AND DUST and as a screenwriter in a team with Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, Jhabvala wrote dozens of books, essays, reviews, screenplays, and stories. I came across a collection in India, A LOVESONG FOR INDIA: TALES FROM EAST AND WEST, with illustrations by her architect husband C.S.H. Jhabvala. These stories have such perfect detail and delicacy that I was convinced they were memoirs.

As part of the BlogHop for International Authors' Day I'm giving away a paperback of the first novel in the Anita Ray series, UNDER THE EYE OF KALI, to someone who comments, chosen at random.


13 comments:

  1. I envy your knowledge of all these authors! As I am doing the Reading-the-World Challenge my horizons are really expanding. It is so exciting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was very intrigued by your project, and I'm thinking of starting the challenge in a few months. I think it's a great idea. There is so much I haven't looked at, and so many new writers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a few books from the list that I've finished (paperback or hardcover) that I'll give you.

      Delete
  3. Hi, Susan,

    We seem to be thinking in a similar manner. I started a summer reading list on my blog today as well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm hoping to start an international reading list, one book for every country. It should be fun. Thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really interesting post. I learned lot. How cool that you have visited India, Happy Hopping.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for stopping by, Maria.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love expanding my library with international authors. I'm very interested in reading Children of God. Thank you for introducing us to these works!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for coming by, Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy these new authors and their books.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for your post on these authors. It's always nice to learn of new ones and meet other readers and writers during this celebration. Nancy’s Blog

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you, Nancy. I've discovered some new writers and I'm looking forward to reading their book.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have not heard of most of these books. My book group read The Space Between Us, and I found it so engrossing and so poignant. My favorite Indian author is Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things is a truly amazing book with such great voice.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I could have mentioned other writers that might have been more familiar to readers of this blog hop, such as Anita Desai, but I chose writers who have caught my attention repeatedly in recent years. I also liked Roy's book, which I thought was very powerful. Thanks for commenting, Deb.

    ReplyDelete