The Sound of Yakking Indians

In Vidia's India: A Million Mutinies Now there is little landscape and hardly any weather. There is no smell, no heat or dust, no sweating men, no lisping saris, no honking traffic, nothing except the sound of yakking Indians.

Paul Theroux in Sir Vidia's Shadow

In the summer of 1998, India—and then Pakistan—suddenly exploded on the front pages of the newspapers around the world. The nuclear bomb tests were a culmination of a heady season of self-assertion, a year during which the 50th anniversary of Indian and Pakistani independence came to life in a flurry of literary acclaim. By December, it was clear that the South Asian demonstration of literary force in the West rivalled the power of the other Third World product of the year, El Nino. Breathless, magazines like the New Republic almost begged for mercy: Macaulay, who had said that "a single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India", has been pelted with masterpieces for this ignorant denigration of Indian literature. His punishment has taken a form which he could not have imagined, the vivid prosperity of an Indian literature, and a Pakistani literature, written in Macaulay's own language.

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Himal Southasian