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Fiction on a Journey of Selfdiscovery


Nishat Zaidi

THE COUNTRY IS YOURS
Introduced and translated by Manjushree Thapa
Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. xiv 189, Rs. 250.00

SEASONS OF FLIGHT
By Manjushree Thapa
Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 223, Rs. 399.00

LABURNUM FOR MY HEAD
By Tamsula Ao
Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 107, Rs.150.00

INSOMNIA AND OTHER STORIES
By Aamer Hussein
Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 133, Rs. 199.00

ANOTHER GULMOHAR TREE
By Aamer Hussein
Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 150, Rs. 225.00

TALES IN COLOUR AND OTHER STORIES
By Kunzang Choden
Zubaan, Delhi, 2009, pp. 145, Rs. 250.00

SHORT TAKES: STORIES FROM BANGLADESH
By Tanvir Malik
Frog Books , Mumbai, 2010, pp.136, Rs. 150.00

PASHTUN TALES FROM PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN FRONTIER
By Aisha Ahmed  & Roger Boase
Viva Books , New Delhi, 2010, pp. 368, Rs.395.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 3 March 2011

South Asia has had a rich literary and cultural tradition of its own and the fictions under review reveal that the region is keen to leave its colonial past behind and assert its identity steeped in its own literary heritage. The writers of the region are no longer charmed by the literary cultures of the Empire and seem determined to embark on a journey of self discovery.If, on the one hand, the social and cultural identity of the region, which includes countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, is marked by a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural mosaic, its geopolitical experience, its shared colonial past and the common struggle between past traditions and contemporary modernity gives this vast and diverse region a unique texture of its own.Reading the fictions from the different countries of the region makes us conscious of its diverse traditions and geopolitical and historical realities. Concurrently, one also realizes collective civilizational values and threads of commonality that bind the region together, in some sense. The rise of Nepalese literature coincided with the political turmoil in Nepal in the 1930s and 40s. Though literary freedom was briefly thwarted with the royal coup of 1960 and the subsequent monarchy, the reestablishment of democracy in 1990s has revitalized it. Stories and poems in the collection, The Country is Yours, translated and introduced by Manjushree Thapa who claims it to be a product of personal choices, actually reflect immediate contexts such as political upheavals, campaigns for democracy, womens empowerment and universal human desires. The volume would have been more useful if the authors were briefly introduced and readers were informed when these writings were first published. Also, the mixing of poems and stories, even while thematically arranging them in four sections, breaks the focus and attention. Manjushree Thapas novel Seasons of Flight immediately takes us into the centre of ailments symptomatic of the entire region of South Asia. The novel is about everyday struggle in the face of internal conflicts and violence that render mere survival arduous; it is about migration, dilemmas of belonging to that inbetween space of diaspora, about locating ones identity in a multicultural setup. Prema, a Nepalese woman, first leaves her birth village due to Maoist violence and then her country when a chance application wins her a greencard lottery. Her life in America moves through her initial stay with her Nepalese friends in Little ...


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