Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Mulk Raj Anand RIP

BBC and India Today report that Indian novelist Mulk Raj Anand has died.

Anand is best known for his early novels Coolie and Untouchable, though he wrote dozens of novels and was an active writer for nearly five decades. He was an inspiration and an influence for several generations of Indian writers. BBC's basic bio is pretty helpful:

He was educated at Cambridge and London universities in the 1920s, receiving his PhD in 1929, and lived in Britain for many years.

Anand used much of his writing to describe the trauma suffered by those at the bottom rung of India's complex social hierarchy.

He was one of the first Indian novelists to write in English, using Hindi and Punjabi phrases, to enrich the language.

Anand's first novels were Untouchable (1935) and Coolie (1936), the story of a 15-year-old child labourer who dies of tuberculosis. Coolie was seen as a powerful critique of India's caste system and the British colonisation of India.

It was written in reaction to a personal tragedy - his aunt had just committed suicide after being ostracised from her Hindu community after dining with a Muslim.

The forward to the book was written by E.M. Forster, whom he considered a good friend.

I might have more to say about Anand shortly. I've written an essay on, among other things, Forster's preface to Untouchable, and I'm waiting to see if anyone will publish it.

See Wikipedia on Anand. See also Andrew Stracuzzi's article on Postcolonial Web.


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