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356 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 mutually hostile constituencies, charming the Ajust folks@ market with its tale of a nice, simple, rich woman, complete with family photographs and easy to read letters, recipes and lists; these same photographs and lists thrill the academics and avant-garde critics, who see in them a postmodern questioning of traditional narrative techniques. Shields is taking both groups for a ride.= Couldn=t have said it better myself. (SAM SOLECKI) Chelva Kanaganayakam. Counterrealism and Indo-Anglian Fiction Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 214. $34.95 Chelva Kanaganayakam=s Counterrealism and Indo-Anglian Fiction offers a fresh perspective on the postcolonial Indo-Anglian novel=s task of mediating a postmodern global-local nation, not so much by analysing the thematics as by calling attention to certain writers= use of what the author calls >counterrealism,= a literary, aesthetic and narrative mode that departs from mimesis and verisimilitude and hence from the conventions of expressive realism. As a formal aesthetic, >counterrealism= offers a recurrent pattern, or a >basis of typology= to study the works of an influential group of Indo-Anglian writers. Kanaganayakam first introduces and explains the term >counterrealism,= and then devotes a chapter each to R.K. Narayan, G.V. Desani, Anita Desai, Zulfikar Ghose, Suniti Namjoshi, and Salman Rushdie, analysing these authors= use of >counterrealism= in specific texts. The final section of the book offers a generalized critique of the post-Rushdie Indo-Anglian literary scene and writers. Acknowledging the multiple dimensions of R.K. Narayan=s art B from the mythic and religious to the secular-satiric, B Kanaganayakam shows that Narayan=s mode of representation marks a delicate interweaving of the mimetic and the experimental, and it is this meshing of the modes that constitutes Narayan=s >counterrealism.= It becomes an >enabling strategy= for Narayan to >lay bare= that which is fictive (Malgudi/India), and defamiliarize the >parallel= world of >real= India touched by such issues as nationalism, communal violence, the politics of language, and gender. He sees G.V. Desani as a sort of pathbreaker who uses counterrealism to destabilize the grand narrative of Indian nationalism and nationhood by problematizing the ontological assumptions of the nation itself. The Indo-Anglian writers who came after Desani, including Salman Rushdie, have, to a greater or lesser extent, preoccupied themselves with similar issues. The best of Anita Desai=s fiction, according to Kanaganayakam, weaves the referential and the inaccessible together to give the works a >counterrealistic = texture. Desai uses a number of anti-referential devices in her novels, such as intertextual allusions, allegories, myths, and symbols, to destabilize >unutterable truth claims= surrounding nationalist and pat- humanities 357 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 riarchal discourses, and, especially, the problematic space that women occupy in post-independence India. Desai=s >counterrealism= enables her to resist and unravel any >monologic interpretation= of the Indian >reality,= which she presents as being diverse and often intractable in its complexity. Zulfikar Ghose, presents a complex mixture of narrative forms that are >counterrealistic=: stream-of-consciousness, the picaresque, metafiction, and fantasy and magic realism. However, perhaps alone among the IndoAnglian writers of his generation, Ghose has been closer to the Latin American magic realists than he is to G.V. Desani or to Salman Rushdie. That said, Kanaganyakam convincingly argues that like those other IndoAnglian counterrealists, Ghose explores the familiar postcolonial issues of nation, history, home, identity, power, language, and gender B but he almost always underscores the unstable nature of such social and cultural constructs. Unlike Ghose, who claims that >Literature concerns itself with language and never with empirical realities,= Suniti Namjoshi is openly engaged in social and political issues. Analysing Namjoshi=s >counterrealism= B her use of myths, allegories, fables (and fabulations), the traditional novel and science fiction forms, and satirical fantasies. Kanaganayakam posits that the author has removed myths and fables from the realm of the oral to the literary. Kanaganayakam devotes the final sections of his book to a consideration of Salman Rushdie and the singular influence he has had on some of the more important Indo-Anglian writers B Shashi Tharoor, Amitav...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 356-358
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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