Reading India Now
Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture
Publication: Apr 19
Publication: Apr 19
6 x 9
1 figure, 3 halftones
What literary criticism looks like when it becomes attuned to the unspectacular presentRead an excerpt from the Introduction( pdf).
In an age of social media and reality television, reading and consumption habits in India now demand homegrown pulp fictions. Ulka Anjaria categorizes post-2000 Indian literature and popular culture as constituting “the contemporary,” a movement defined by new and experimental forms—where high- and low-brow meet, and genres break down.
Reading India Now studies the implications of this developing trend as both the right-wing resurges and marginalized voices find expression. Anjaria explores the fiction of Chetan Bhagat and Anuja Chauhan as well as Aamir Khan’s television talk show, Satyamev Jayate, plus the work of documentarian Paromita Vohra, to argue how different kinds of texts are involved in imagining new political futures for an India in transition. Contemporary literature and popular culture in India might seem artless and capitalistic, but it is precisely its openness to the world outside that allows these new works to offer significant insight into the experiences and sensibilities of contemporary India.
"In Reading India Now , Ulka Anjaria outlines an epistemology for current scholarship in the fields of Indian literary theory and popular culture. Anjaria’s project is to interpret contemporary works of mainstream Indian literature and culture not only as symptoms of our historical time but also identify countercultural and resistant elements in these texts.... Reading India Now covers a variety of contemporary cultural texts and Anajaria's close textual analysis brings up pertinent questions of representation and criticism in these works." ”
—Studies in South Asia Film and Media
“Reading India Now is a very compelling and persuasive book that offers illuminating analyses, sharp insights, and new perspectives about how contemporary Indian literature and culture demand that we reinvent the very language and lens through which we approach not just Indian literature, but all literature and culture that is contemporary. Anjaria’s book is a well-researched and wide-ranging work that intervenes in the fields of Postcolonial Literatures, Global Anglophone Literatures, and South Asian Literatures and Cultures in extremely interesting and important ways. ”
— Kavita Daiya, Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, Associate Professor of English at George Washington University, and author of Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India (Temple)
"Ulka Anjaria’s Reading India Now attends to India’s shifting literary landscape with the necessary urgency and precision.... (It) offers a necessary corrective to scholarship on postliberalization India that remains attached to a story of cultural and political decline. In doing so, it adds a much-needed chapter to studies of Indian English literature which have favored globally circulating works over those that enjoy readership in India.... Reading India Now leaves us with fundamental questions about postcolonial literary criticism today."
—Journal of Asian Studies
Table of Contents
Introduction: In Search of an Indian Contemporary
Part I Locations
1. The New Provincialism
2. Writing the City Now
Part II Publics
3. In Pursuit of the Common Man
4. Melodrama and the Open Edge of Politics
Part III Representations
5. Literature beyond the Pale
6. Inside and Out
Afterword: Contemporaneity’s Futures