Too tired to write paragraphs, so tumblr have a neato list:
1. Before we go anywhere—here, have another beautiful essay about the Bombay Poets, and if nostalgia over Modern English Poetry doesn’t work for you, read it for the wonderful conversation Anjum Hassan manages to resurrect, for herself and us.
2. Coming to Roy. First off, ALL THE HEARTS AND HUGS for recounting the long history of the Neemrana and the same conversation we seem to be having every time we talk about Indian writing in English.
3. I’ve often wondered too—why don’t we supervise and aim to regulate other conversations about other India(s) happening in All Languages Except English.
4. I don’t know why this is either—are we “okay” with ‘regional’ langauges, or ‘vernacular’ dialects (okay, so isn’t English a regional and a vernacular language by now?) (Is there a time stipulation?) (Another century of being a post-post-colony, perhaps?) (INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW) challenging and holding the notion of the country and the community in scrutiny, or we don’t like that it is done in English because (supposedly), Indian writing in English is international in ways regional writing isn’t?
5. (Okay, so strangely enough, my most recent foray into North America was a surprise in this department) (I met about a dozen people who’d read Mahashveta Devi, Arun Kolatkar and Kiran Nagarkar in Polish, Dutch, Czech, some in English translations etc) (And they’re not any ‘special’ readers either, they like ‘pulp’ fiction, sci-fi and so on). (The surprise came when I’d assumed ‘regional’ *and* ‘Indian’ writing were monopolies in South Asia) (and mostly undergrad libraries) (but back to the point).
6. Like Roy, I do like the premise and crudely put, the statistical evidence that English (rather access to English and its affective worlds) is no longer a preoccupation of a certain caste/class. However, there are different Worlds such Englishes create, and I am not quite sure how those filter in our publishing markets, precisely without demarcating them as “voices from the margins”, without forgetting the processes that ensure their marginality?
7. Yes, yes, we have Navayana (brilliant catalog really), and Zubaan and Stree and Orient Black Swan. We have, again the statistical reality where caste-and-class (and specifically, its democratic upward surge in the 90’s) can no longer be a concern of the people “who are born with that problem”, we’ve come around to be a population that (very reluctantly) agrees that we’re all a part of the Problem. in various different ways.
8. But, sadly such trajectories water down to—1. “Well, now look, ‘those people’ have a veritable presence in society, we have to write about them, because let’s face it, representation sells”, which in turn feeds into the neoliberal rights-as-assets democracy or 2. “Now that ‘those people’ are around, they will publish also. Surely, they will have sympathisers to their ‘sect’ and ‘caste’ etc” which I see the Roy argument going towards, by the end.
9. We won’t talk (yet again), about how ‘Indian’ writing—in English and otherwise—aren’t circles easy to break into (or out of) (interestingly, Nalini Jameela joked at a conference/reading that she finds lit circuits as difficult to break in/out of as circuits of sex work) (and we laughed, because there wasn’t much else to say). And that these ‘markets’, ‘audiences’, ‘writers’, call it whatever you must, have to be created. Just because the “democratic” space exists that does not oppose such presence, doesn’t mean we’re doing much to fix the absence, no?(via woh-battameez)