07 May, 2021

Way Through An Old Sieve

The year 1995 summoned up visions of a spring for Indian writing in English. But charges of elitism, of not sufficiently ‘belonging’, have never ebbed. A contemporary writer responds:

Way Through An Old Sieve

Some nights when I lie awake thinking about how and why I ended up here, along with a bunch of the other events, I see a bridge with a platoon of books goose-stepping across, each one turning my head one inexorable inch until I found myself, here.

Leading the march is Midnight’s Children. Summer vacation, mid-1990s, hungrier for books than for ice-cream. I can’t say that I fully understood the book or that I particularly enjoyed it. There was something unsettling about its slippery visions, its sly allusions. It was like walking down an unfamiliar alley and sensing that several pairs of eyes watched you from behind slatted windows. I had not yet heard the term, magic realism, and I did not think of Midnight’s Children as either magical or surreal. It was a tale told slant and, inexplicably, I felt as if it was more directed at me than any of the other books I’d read.

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