New Delhi: The development in the subject, technique and theme represented in the novels of women storytellers spread across 150 years in India is the subject of a new book.
In "Jasmine on a String: A Survey of Women Writing English Fiction in India", US-based literary critic Margaret Paul Joseph documents a journey of female writers through the 19th to 21st century, using the genre of the novel to describe their Indian experience.
"While feminist critics in the West have done their bit to bring their own writers to public attention in literary histories, little has been done to cover the spectrum of women English-writing novelists in India," she cites as the idea behind her book, published by Oxford University Press.
Women novelists in India who write fiction in English are, increasingly, gaining international recognition for their work but there is no extensive literary history of such writers, as there is of feminist writers in the West, she says.
Exploring the works of well-known women writers, who wrote in India, the book seeks to shed light on their technique of writing, selection of subject matter, and focus of interest. Alice Perrin, Flora Annie Steel, Rumer Godden, Toru Dutt, Krupabai Satthinadhan, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Nayantara Sahgal, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande and Arundhati Roy - English fiction in India is the common thread that binds these women.
Joseph says choosing women in India who wrote or write fiction in English is comparatively easy because one of her guiding principles is quality rather than quantity of writing.
"Apart from language and native residence, originality of idea and plot, and language are other considerations. Hence, I have not selected so-called 'popular' writing such as romances or what is called 'chick-lit'. We know that bestsellers are not always the best literature