Secularism in the Postcolonial Indian Novel
National and Cosmopolitan Narratives in English
Routledge – 2007 – 224 pages
This study explores the connections between a secular Indian nation and fiction in English by a number of postcolonial Indian writers of the 1980s and 90s. Examining writers such as Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Shashi Tharoor, and Rohinton Mistry, with particularly close readings of Midnight?s Children, A Suitable Boy, The Shadow Lines and The Satanic Verses, Neelam Srivastava investigates different aspects of postcolonial identity within the secular framework of the Anglophone novel. The book traces the breakdown of the Nehruvian secular consensus between 1975 and 2005 through these narratives of postcolonial India. In particular, it examines how these writers use the novel form to re-write colonial and nationalist versions of Indian history, and how they radically reinvent English as a secular language for narrating India. Ultimately, it delineates a common conceptual framework for secularism and cosmopolitanism, by arguing that Indian secularism can be seen as a located, indigenous form of a cosmopolitan identity.
Neelam Srivastava is lecturer in postcolonial literature at Newcastle University, UK. She has published on Indian literature in English and anti-colonial cinema, and has co-edited a special issue of the journal Interventions on colonial and postcolonial Italy.