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Balu Vijayaraghavan

Rahul Kamble & Oindri Roy
Year 2015, pp. 233, Rs. 995.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Approaches to Childhood: Issues and Concerns in Creative Representations, an anthology of essays, is yet another contribution to the academic studies on heterogeneous aspects of childhood based on the recent developments in various disciplines like psychology, sociology and anthropology. Nibir K. Ghosh rightly comments in the foreword to the book that the narratives ‘emanating from the fertile soil of human compassion, sing profuse strains of deeply meditated creative renderings not only of distress but also of a child’s capacity to survive with courage and dignity in a hostile world’ (pp. 7–8). The anthology comprises five sections, five representations of childhood—Childhood From Within, Children’s Literature, Subjectivity, Childhood From Different Lands and Children’s Experiences. The book does not necessarily focus on the myriad critical perspectives on the fictional representations of childhood but rather adds to the existing discussions and explorations of childhood in various fictional and creative representations. In the introduction the authors raise issues relating to children and childhood which are highlighted today in our society where children are becoming more and more vulnerable and exposed to several societal imbalances. The growing concern about the future of humanity has led to greater investments on children. Also, the changing notions of children are on account of the tremendous changes in the society—from conventional to modern. Apart from these, the contemporary structure of the modern nuclear families, prioritizing the child-figure in the familial, societal and national set-up are also responsible for making the child an agent to achieve the adult goals in the competitive structure of our civilization. In the first section ‘Broken Homes and Battered Childhoods in The God of Small Things’ by Manisha Bhadran explores childhood in the situation of children being protected as well as restricted by the family. The essay analyses Arundhati Roy’s portrayal of the convoluted childhood of Esthappen and Rahel through paternal deprivation, domestic violence, sexual abuse, inadvertent trauma, loss and separation. Rini Reba Mathew’s ‘Growing in the Outskirts: Reading Childhood in Dalit Poetry’, discusses the class and caste based issues pertaining to childhood narratives. This essay describes how and why a Dalit childhood is disparate from a non-Dalit childhood, poignantly emphasizing issues of identity, living with segregating resources, duality of conditioning, the child’s struggle in internalizing the caste identity and unresolved puzzles about the community suffering. Further, the essay deals with places such as home and school, where the ...

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