(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
Farzana S. Ali, ed. Diaspora in Fiction: Many Hues Many Shades. Jaipur: Yking Books, 2016. Pp: 236. Price: 1150/-. ISBN: 978-93-85528-31-6.
Reviewed by Ajay K Chaubey
The study of the Indian diaspora, since its academic genesis in the decade of 1990s, has been proliferated, professed and popularized by the Indian academia. The younger authors from the Indian subcontinent have sprouted creative seeds and added newer branches to the stem of South Asian migratory literature. Whenever creative writings are born, reviews and criticism are always to trail it. The only reason of such critique is to add multiple hues to the original texts. An anthology on the literature of the Diaspora, of late, has emerged from an Indian editor, which has given space to younger and embryonic critics, though the critic herself is not too old and veteran. Hence, here is this review.
The volume contains twenty-six articles, which vouch for a promising contribution to the already existing vast corpus of diaspora criticism. But, few essays trace such authors which have been negligible, so far, on the firmament of literature and have been less studied through the lenses of diaspora. One such paper is ‘Nostalgia, Dislocation, Displacement and Sense of Loss in Susan Abulhawa’s Mornings in Jenin’ by Dr. Shamenaz Bano. This essay traces the trajectory of nostalgia in creative articulations, in general and Abulhawa’s novel, in particular. Abulhawa, being Palestinian-American writer carries out the legacy of another prominent figure of the same soil, Edward Said. Since Abulhawa is a less researched author, as I myself was unable to find the articles when I searched the novel on Google, Bano, therefore, has done a good job but not in a better way as she writes the ‘surname’ of Said as Saeed. This may be typographical error and only the author is not responsible for the same. The editor and the publisher should have taken note of it. Such errors are sporadically found in the volume.
Another article entitled ‘Thrity Umrigar-Then and Now and How’ by Shanoor Mirza revisions the Parsi diaspora ‘amongst the Indian English writers in diaspora…’ (215). This article is like that of Bano’s because it adds valuable contribution to Parsi diaspora in India. Plethora of articles and books has been brought to the fore on Parsi diaspora including major literary figures like Keki N. Daruwalla and Rohinton Mistry. But, Umrigar has been brought to the light Mirza and this is a gem to the anthology.
Additionally, one thing is also to be mentioned here is that the editor has, I guess, deliberately chosen majority of the articles written by female critics. Naturally, the crux and onus of the focus has been shifted to women writers of the diaspora of the Indian subcontinent like—Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Meera Syal, Uma Parameswaran, Monica Ali, ImtiazDharker, Bharati Mukherjee, Kiran Desai, Ruth PrawerJhabvala, Shauna Singh Baldwin and, etc. Though it is also commendable that articles on the major literary luminaries viz. Naipaul, Rushdie, Ghosh and Mistry have been taken into account to give the anthology much weightier space in pan-Indian academia.
The editor has painstakingly tried to cover, in the preface, the uncovered trajectory of the Indian diasporic literature but has vacillated after few paragraphs, which indicates that she has hastily completed it. On the other hand, the rationale of the book is “to trace the gradual growth and maturity of creative and critical expressions related to diasporic fiction” (iv), which justifies through the essays which have studied creative overtures of multiple genres, and this is a unique USP of the book.
To sum up, I would like to honestly confess, through this review, that such anthologies including mine have overtly and covertly played a crucial role to give a reasonable opportunity to the younger and unheard critics of India who have more talent to rise and to decolonize the established and elitist approach of selection and admittance of critical flair of upcoming critics. However, one has to be aware of criticasters. Most of the researchers are not given proper space because of their “un-elitist” academic background. Though this fact can never be denied that quality of the work always matters and this should always be treasured. I hope that the young editors will have a graveglimpse over it.
I congratulate the editor, the publisher and every contributor of this volume and wish this could be an incredible success!
Ajay K Chaubey (PhD) is an Assistant Professor (English) at the Department of Sciences & Humanities, National Institute of Technology, Uttarakhand, India. His key publications include V S Naipaul (Atlantic, 2015), Salman Rushdie (Atlantic, 2016) followed by South Asian Diaspora (in three volumes) to be released by Rawat Publications, Jaipur by the end of this year. Additionally, he has co-edited two volumes on Indian Diaspora entitled Transnational Passages: An Anthology of Diaspora Criticism (Vol. I) and Discursive Passages: An Anthology of Diaspora Criticism (Vol.II) from Yking Books, Jaipur in 2015. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.