Leaving Indian English writings notches ahead
The literary circles of India mourn the demise of Kiran Nagarkar, the recipient of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Sahitya Akademi Award for English Writers among others. Known for being both bawdy and lyrical, Nagarkar's writings were pronouncedly both political yet irreverent. He is specially credited for contributing singularly to modern English fiction from India which were particularly marked by depth. One of the leading lights of modern Indian literature, acclaimed for eight novels in English and Marathi, Nagarkar, at 77, breathed his last in Mumbai on Thursday. Apart from works for children and his accomplishments as an academic, a journalist, a screenplay writer, and in the advertising industry, The Arsonist, published in 2019, was his latest work of fiction. Indian writing in English has had a brief history so far but one that is marked with significant range and variety. It is said to be in 1793, that Sake Dean Mahomed wrote what is believed to be the first book by an Indian in English: The Travels of Dean Mahomed. Most early Indian writing in English was non-fictional and were primarily biographies and political essays. The late 19th century witnessed a change in this trend as (now) famous Indian authors wrote and published works in their mother tongue. Rabindranath Tagore was one who began translating his works from Bengali to English and this could be said to be a beginning of Indian writing in English by way of articulating subjective expressions sans the confinements of genres. RK Narayanan was another iconic Indian English writer whose stories were essentially about the common people in simple places, his Malgudi Days remains a classic. Authors like Kiran Nagarkar have brought Indian writing in English a long way since then. Bringing 'Indianness' to Indian English literature, contemporary authors like Nagarkar were said to be path-breaking. He will be best remembered for not just his vast body of work but also for his enthusiasm for life. And, for adding new dimensions to modern Indian writings in a foreign language that is only more Indian.