Subcontinental English Writers
G.J.V. Prasad
DICTIONARY OF LITERARY BIOGRAPHY VOLUME 323: SOUTH ASIAN WRITERS IN ENGLISH by Fakrul Alam Thomson Gale, 2007, 490 pp., price not stated
March 2007, volume 31, No 3

This is a welcome addition to the critical apparatus available on sub- continental English writers. South Asian writing is as usual an in- vention of the western academy, a convenient label that sub-continental critics can use to talk about issues that concern the nations of the region. However, it is still English writing that is the pre-text for this academic investigation. The corpus that would constitute this area of writing has to be necessarily not so rooted for rooted literature would be of little interest to the diasporic writer and critic. This could explain some interesting omissions in the list of forty-eight writers chosen for this Dictionary. In any case, I always look out for the inclusion (or exclusion) of Rabindranath Tagore in such definitive works, for his inclusion implies that he is an Indian English writer by virtue of his translations of his own works into English. Is it perhaps a signal that all South Asian English writing is an exercise in translation? Is that the reason that this volume is called South Asian Writers in English rather than South Asian English Writers—there is no South Asian English and who writes in it any way? But then what are the boundaries that you would draw? If you have to translate your work yourself in order to make it to this magic circle, perhaps all writers in South Asia should begin to translate their works into English immediately.

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