The first significant fact about the "new" fiction is that the number of Indian English novels published during the last two decades easily surpasses the total output for any corresponding period earlier. But quantity, of course, does not automatically guarantee quality; hence attention must also be drawn to the increasing recognition and respect the new novelists are winning in the literary world today.
One obvious aspect of this'recognition is the fact that far more Indian English writers are now being published abroad than ever before, and their publishers include prestigious firms on both sides of the Atlantic: Faber and Faber; Andre Deutsch; Heinemann; Alfred Knopf, Random House; Picador etc. In fact a full list of these will read like a directory of British and American publishers. Equally remarkable is the fact that today even a young Indian writer publishing his first book is readily accepted by a leading publisher abroad. Thus, Amit Chaudhuri's first novel, A Strange and Sublime Address, was published by Heinemann in 1991. One recalls how Mulk Raj Anand's first novel, Untouchable (now included in the Penguin Classics) was left untouched by 19 British publishers in 1935, before a word from E.M. Forster persuaded Lawrence and Wishart to accept it; also, how R.K.Narayan had to wait for the "Green(e)" light before his long and illustrious career could begin. This does not of course mean that Amit Chaudhuri is a better writer than Anand or Narayan, but -it certainly does indicate the ready acceptance of Indian English literature abroad now.
If recognition and respect come, can rupees (or pounds or dollars, to be exact) be far behind? One is told that Vikram Seth's novel, A Suitable Boy was sold to Faber and Faber for a sum of one million pounds, for the U.K. rights alone. (One understands that this has caused considerable heart burning in "Nativist" circles in Bombay and Calcutta, but let that pass.) But sales alone do not spell literary excellence; for one may well ask, a la Keats, "Where are the best 36 Indian English Literature: 1980-2000
sellers of yesterday, aye, where are they?". The new novelists have proved their mettle by winning, in competition with writers whose mother tongue was English, several major literary awards, prizes and distinctions, a complete list of which will occupy many pages. To note only the most outstanding of these, two new novelists have won the Booker Prize, supposedly the British equivalent of the Nobel Prize: Salman Rushdie for Midnight's Children in 1981 (in 1993 this was adjudged the "Booker of Bookers," the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first twenty-five years) and Arundhati Roy for The God of Small Things in 1997. (R. P. Jhabvala too had won the Booker prize, in 1975, but she belonged to an earlier generation). Since then almost every novel by Rushdie has won an award in one country or another: Spume bagged the Prix the Meilleur Livre Etranger in Paris; The Satanic Verses was given the "Author of the Year" Award in Germany, and the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel; Ilaroun and the Sea of Stories qualified for the Writers Guild Award in England; The Moor's Last Sigh was adjudged "The Novel of the Year" in 1996, while The Ground Beneath Her Feet was considered the best book in the Eurasia region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Similarly, Rohinton Mistry's Such a Long Journey, which was short listed for the Booker Prize, received the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best book, the Governor General's Award, and the W. H. Smith Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1991. Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best Book, and the W. H. Smith Award, in 1994. And more recently, Jhumpa Lahiri created history in becoming the first Indian author to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in the USA for her collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies (1999). The novels of Rushdie, Roy, Anita Desai and others have also been translated into numerous European languages, thus setting the seal on their standing in the world of letters today. And this adulation need not any longer be taken as the traditional "White-pat-on-the-Brown-Back" syndrome, which has plagued Indian writing in English for a long time. Surely, there could not have been a collective will to condescension in so many, on such a large scale, in so many countries, at the same time.
Another highly significant feature of the new fiction is the way these writers handle the English language. The days of F. A. Anstey's comic "Baboo Jabberjee, B.A." dropping heavy linguistic bricks on white feet all over Calcutta are now part of the long-forgotten colonial story; now the Babu in question seems to be in a position to teach a thing or two to his ex-Prospero. Born in the days when the sun was
Midnight's Children's Children: The Novel - II 37
never supposed to set on the British empire (as Chesterton said, "this was because God wouldn't trust the Englishman in the dark"), when Queen Victoria was in her Buckingham palace and all was right with the world (in British perception), the older Indian novelists could not perhaps but be somewhat self-conscious in using the tongue of the august master. Each of the "Big Three" solved the problem in his own way. Anand boldly carried the battle into the enemy camp, by cocking a snook at Fowler and Company; he translated literally from his native Punjabi into English, and gave the language of Shakespeare and Dickens the pungent flavour of sarson ka sag. Raja Rao bravely declared, "We cannot write like the English. We should not" and tried to capture the rustic Kannada grandmother's breathless garrulity in Kanthapura and the stately rhythms of Sanskrit in The Serpent and the Rope. Narayan's method was subtler: he deliberately adopted a seemingly drab, colourless and almost journalistic style, so that the thrusts of his ubiquitous irony could prove all the more deadly.
Born and brought up in the post-colonial world, the new novelists, many of whom are a part of the great Indian diaspora, had no reason to feel self-conscious in handling the English language, which, for them, carries no colonial baggage; it is for them simply a tool - and a most resourceful and pliant one - which their education and upbringing have placed into their hands, and which they have thoroughly mastered, with the typical Indian flair for languages. One mark of this is the fact that most new novelists do not feel the necessity of appending to their novels an annotated list of Indian words in the text, explaining their meaning. One remembers how the American edition of Raja Rao's Kanthapura carried a 60 page long glossary of Indian words (at the instance of the publisher, one is told). Now neither publisher nor author regards this as necessary. The inference is clear: earlier, the Indian writer was supposed to go at least half way to meet his reader (in some cases, he even went three quarters). His successor today expects his reader to go all the way to meet him.
Where do the new novelists stand in relation to their chief predecessors? Curiously enough, the most outstanding of them do not seem to follow any of the "Big Three." Neither Anand's burning reformist zeal, nor Narayan's ironic apprehension of life, nor yet Raja Rao's metaphysical musing seems to provide a viable model to them. Their affinities are rather with that maverick of Indian English fiction: G. V. Desani's All About H. Hatterr, an exciting amalgam of fantasy, the absurd, comedy, satire and linguistic pyrotechnics. These were the fictional values which dominated post-colonial and post-modern 38 Indian English Literature: 1980-2000
fiction also, especially after the rise of Magic Realism; hence most of the leading new novelists are Hatterr's children. If, as Hemingway said, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called lIuckleberrv Finn", it can be said that most of recent Indian English fiction has come out of the "too-large-for-him hat" of the headmaster of H. Hatterr's school.
Another significant way in which the new novel differs from the old is that it is more globalised. Anand, Narayan and Raja Rao have all lived in the West for a time, but barring a few exceptions, their primary engagement has been with India. Of course, Anand goes to France and Flanders in Across the Black Waters and to England and Ireland in The Bubble, and Raja Rao lives in France for long periods in The Serpent and the Rope and The Chess.'naster and His Moves. Bhabani Bhattacharya sets the scene of his A Dream in Hawaii in that island. But the new novelists go much further. In Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate, not only is the setting entirely American, so also are the characters; and in An Equal Music, the scene shifts from England to Austria to Italy, his chief characters are English, and India is nowhere in the picture. In Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's The Gabriel Club, the setting is Hungary and all the characters are mid-European. And the grand finale of Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh takes place in a lonely tower room of a fortress in an Andalusian village in Spain. The younger novelists are thus citizens of "Cyberspace," though the ties that bind them to their motherland continue to be strong.
The first of the new novelists to arrive was Salman Rushdie (b. 1947) whose Midnight's Children (1981) heralded a new era in the history of Indian English fiction. Rushdie's main assets are a vaulting imagination, which often makes the bizarre its business, a carnivalesque sense of the comic, and an irrepressible love of word-play. When these powers are under perfect artistic control, and are geared to meaningful central concerns, he produces his better work. On the other hand, when his imagination runs amuck, when his sense of the comic overcomes his sense of propriety (an occupational hazard for every comic writer - "The clown in me trips me awfully," Bernard Shaw once said), and when his word-play descends to the level of compulsive jesting, he seems to fall back on puerile puns, juvenile jokes and wornout witticisms.
Rushdie's fictional art has been shaped by some highly significant factors. Born and brought up in Bombay, he spent the first
Midnight's Children's Children: The Novel -- II 39
fourteen years of his life here, after which he was sent to England for higher education. He has lived there ever since. Childhood and adolescence play a major role in shaping a writer's mind. This explains why Rushdie has come to have a firm foothold in both India and the West. This must have evidently been reinforced by his study of history at Cambridge. Further, though a Muslim by faith, he has himself said, "'My writings and thought have . .. been as deeply influenced by Hindu myths and attitudes as Muslim ones" (Imaginary Homelands: 404).
It is his hyper-active imagination that must have drawn Rushdie to surrealism, and its modern cousin, Magic Realism, a strategy which has patent affinities with the strong oral traditions and narrative patterns of Third World societies; and All About H. Hatterr must have shown him the immense possibilities of word-play in English. Rushdie's forbears are thus, Lawrence Sterne, Gunter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and G.V. Desani.
His first novel, Grimes (1975) shows Rushdie trying his hand at these various strategies, without mastering any. The protagonist is Flapping Eagle, an American Indian in search of his lost sister. He finally locates her on a Mediterranean island controlled by Grimus, a magician. The narrative is a hodgepodge of several myths and motifs, which do not seem to mix well. Thus, the name "Grimus" is an anagram of "Simurg", a great wise eagle in the Persian Shahnama; while the Rose which is the secret of Grimus's power, and the protagonist's guide Virgil (Jones) are obviously from Dante. And Sufi mysticism and Menippean satire make strange bed-fellows. In Grimus, Rushdie was evidently serving his apprenticeship.
How well he did this is suddenly apparent in Midnight's Children (1981), Rushdie's first major work and, in a sense, his best novel. It is a multi-faceted narrative, which is at once an autobiographical bildungsroman, a picaresque fiction, a political allegory, a topical satire, a comic extravaganza, a surrealist fantasy, and a daring experiment in form and style.
Midnight's Children is the story of Saleem Sinai, born on the midnight of 15 August, 1947: the time and year of the birth of the modern Indian nation. He therefore feels that he is "mysteriously handcuffed to history". The narratives opens with an account of the life of Saleem's grandfather, and the hero is actually born as late as on page 116 (which reminds us of the birth of Sterne's hero in Tristram Shandv in Volume IV of the novel). Saleem's peregrinations over the next twenty-five years include his experiences during the Bangla Desh 40 Indian English Literature: 1980-2000
War in 1971 and the clamping of Emergency in 1975.
The narrative abounds in several instances of meaningful use of fantasy and symbolism. Thus, Saleem, who represents the new-born Indian nation is actually a changeling, the son of an Englishman and an Indian woman; Saleem is born with unblinking eyes and has to be taught to shut them, "for nobody can face the world with his eye open all the time". And out of the 1001 (a figure which clearly alludes to The Arabian Nights) children born on the midnight of 1947, exactly 420 die (this is the notorious number of the section of the Indian Penal Code dealing with cheating).
The story is narrated in the first person by Saleem himself, and his garrulity makes for several digressions like the Paean to Dung and the "Fairy Tale of the Prince of Kif." Stylistic experiments, which remind us of All About H. Hatterr, mainly take the form of the "chutnification" of the English language, using several devices such as the use of Hindi and Urdu words, expressions, expletives etc ("0 baba", "funtoosh"), bilingual echoic formations ("writing-shiting"), use of Hindi idiom a la Mulk Raj Anand ("who cares two pice"), bilingual puns ("ladies and ladas"), and dovetailing of words ("ononon").
But what makes Midnight's Children an outstanding work is the fact that it has a distinctly existential dimension. One central theme seems to unify all the elements of political fantasy, comedy and surrealism in the novel; this is the over-arching theme of Identity and its plight in a hostile world. The numerous ways in which Identity is made to suffer is vividly illustrated in the experiences of the protagonist. Identity is in turn, shown as a sham, as mistaken and confused, subjected to oblivion, fractured, dwarfed and reduced to animal level; as barren, sterile and totally lost. And since heredity is an essential element in Identity, some of these ordeals are repeated from generation to generation in the narrative which opens with the protagonist's grandfather and ends with his son.
If the political allegory in Midnight's Children concerns India, its sister nation, Pakistan, born at the same time, is the subject of Shame (1983). Here again, the political equations are quite clear. The protagonist is Omar Khayyam Shakil, a name which points to the Pakistani belief that it has greater affinities with Persia and the Middle East rather than with neighbouring India, in spite of the fact that a majority of the people of Pakistan are Hindus converted to Islam. He is the illegitimate son of three mothers and a British Officer. This obviously refers to the British Government's creation of Pakistan out
Midnight's Children's Children: The Novel – 11 41
of three Muslim-majority provinces of pre-Independence India. Many major players in the history of Pakistan during the first three decades of its turbulent life, including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Iskandar Harappa), and Zia ul Haq (Raza Hyder) appear here. The macabre end, in which Omar is killed by his own wife, who has turned into a man-eating beast, and his home destroyed in an explosion, is perhaps a dire warning that a nation born in hatred, and which has for the most part lived in an ambience of tyranny, violence and unrest, is bound to end the same way.
Apart from the political allegory, the narrative has other dimensions as well. The miraculous birth of Omar and the sudden transformation of his wife into a white panther clearly belong to the fiction of Magic Realism. The idea of a human being transformed into an animal is not new. In David Garnett's Ladv into Fox (1922), a country gentleman's wife is suddenly transformed into a fox; her husband accepts her as she is now and continues to live with her until she is killed by hounds. This is fantasy as a sheer flight of the imagination, but with no symbolic dimension. It is this symbolic dimension that gives Rushdie's novel its powerful appeal.
Furthermore, as Rushdie himself says, "I am only telling a sort of a modern fairy tale". But here is a fairy tale with a big differencean inverted fairy tale. In a traditional fairy tale, a frog is transformed into a prince, in the midst of the ringing of wedding bells; in Shaine, the process is reversed, with tragic consequences.
The title, "Shame" suggests another possible dimension of the narrative. The Hindi word "Aural" meaning woman, comes from an Arabic word, which means: (a) something under a veil, any place of concealment and (b) private parts, genitals; the reference by implication to Woman and Woman's honour is plain. In all oriental cultures, Woman and Shame are associated in two diametrically opposite ways. First, it indicates a woman's honour, her decency and modesty. Ancient Hindus, who had a passion for classification, have listed eleven basic traits of woman, including modesty, along with beauty, tolerance, self-effacement etc. In fact, in a positive sense, Shame is associated with the Divine. Idols of Lajja Gauri (Lajja = Shame, and Gauri = Parvati, the consort of Shiva) are still found in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. They symbolized female fertility and were (and still are) worshipped by barren women.
On the other hand, "Shame", in a pejorative sense, is equated with dishonour, loss of self-respect, humiliation etc. It is this pejorative sense that seems to be emphasised in this narrative of three decades of
42 Indian English Literature: 1980-2000
a country united in a "macabre fellowship of Shame". Finally, Shame in a sense is also an impressive Feminist document, in that Sufiya Zinobiya's transformation into a ferocious beast perhaps suggests that in a country which reduces its women to less than second class citizens, Woman power will one day arise and slay the oppressor.
Rushdie's fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), brought him considerable notoriety, and devout Muslims found it blasphemous. A fatwa was issued against him by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, passing a death sentence on him. In Chapter 53 of the Holy Koran, verses number 19 and 20 refer to Lat, Uzza and Manat, three deities worshipped by pagan Arabs in Mecca. According to a discredited hadith, these verses were followed by a verse glorifying these pagan idols; this verse, written under the influence of Satan, was never part of the Holy Koran. Rushdie is fascinated by this imaginary incident, and goes on magnifying it - the chapter "Mahound" opens with these pagan deities as daughters of the Devil, "Lat Manat Uzza, motherless girls laughing with their Abba." The section ends with the Prophet abandoning Gibreel, after bringing him the devil, and Gibreel is left trying to fight against "the three winged creatures." Rushdie no doubt meant this reversal (the Prophet brings the Devil to Gibreel instead of the angel Gabriel bringing the word of God to the Prophet) as a profound meditation on good and evil, but all he achieves is puerile word play which is highly offensive to Muslims.
The novel opens with an incident typical of Magic Realism: two Indians fall from an aeroplane on to the English coast and land unhurt. They are Gibreel Farishta, a superstar of Indian cinema, and Saladin Chamcha, an Indian emigre. The names are highly symbolic. "Gibreel", which is "Gabriel", represents the angelic (in Islam, Gabriel is the angel who brought God's Word to humankind), and "Farishta" means angel; and "Saladin" recalls Sultan Saladin, whom the Christians regarded as the evil enemy against whom they fought the Crusades. But as usual with Rushdie, the symbolism is actually multi-layered. For instance, "Chamcha" means a "hanger-on", a flatterer in Hindi, and his wife's name is "Pamela Lovelace" a la Samuel Richardson. Rushdie is quite self-conscious about his choice of names. In the portions of the novel which did the most to attract charges of blasphemy, he chooses the name "Mahound" for the prophet. "Mahound" was the name which medieval Christian writers used for Muhammad, identifying him with the Devil - Dante, for example, puts him in inferno. Rushdie writes a whole paragraph justifying his choice: ". . . has adopted, instead, the devil-tag the farangies hung round his Midnight's Children's Children: The Novel -11 43
neck. To turn insults into strengths, whigs, tories, Blacks all chose to wear with pride the names they were given in scorn ..." (In fact, a detailed consideration of the symbolism of proper names in the novel will take an entire essay).
The ensuing adventures of the two Indians in England provide the occasion for the treatment of many subjects, including the problems of Indian immigrants in England, British politics (Mrs Thatcher becomes "Mrs Torture"), Islamic history and theology, and feminism. Both finally return to India to meet different fates. Gibreel, who had earlier won his laurels by playing Hindu gods on the screen (a dig at N. T. Rama Rao, the noted Andhra actor) makes a movie on Prophet Mohamed, and when it is a big flop, he shoots himself. Saladin, suddenly realising that his roots are in India, decides not to return to England.
In spite of its seemingly inexhaustible inventiveness (or perhaps because of it), The Satanic Verses is ultimately a confused book. In his irrepressible way, Rushdie tries to do too many things at the same time, allowing the narrative to run in too many directions, ultimately arriving nowhere. The nature of Good and Evil is an exceedingly complex subject. To unravel its intricate inter-connections is an arduous task; and it is certainly not made easy by periodic engagement with peripheral issues, however interesting they may be by themselves.
With the Damocles sword of the religious fatwa hanging over his heretical head, Rushdie was forced to go into seclusion and live under constant police protection in London. It speaks volumes for his courage, strength of mind and sangfroid that under these forbidding circumstances his creative powers remained entirely unaffected. In fact, in Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) he has written perhaps his most delightful novel. Rushdie is supposed to have, written the book at the request of his small son for a story, but here, as in the case of Gulliver''S Travels, is a children's tale with an urgent message to the adults, a message on the issues of the liberty of creative imagination and the sanctity of the artist's freedom of expression. These questions were of pressing personal relevance to him then, and it is a mark of his powerful creative imagination that he transformed a seemingly insuperable difficulty into an invaluable artistic opportunity.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories opens in a manner typical of a children's tale: "There was once in the country of Alifbay a sad city." In this city lives Haroun, a small boy, whose Dither, Rashid Khalifa is a master story-teller. But his wife runs away with another man and he suddenly finds that his story-telling powers are also gone. He regains 44 Indian English Literature: 1980-2000
them in the end after several adventures and a great war between the champions of the freedom of expression and their tyrannical oppressors. The story abounds in allegorical characters like Prince Bolo (speak), Princess Batcheet (dialogue) and Khatam-shud (completely finished).
As an allegory Haroun and the Sea of Stories invites comparison with the earlier Grimus; and the comparison immediately shows how much ground Rushdie has covered during the fifteen years that separate the two novels. In Grimus, the allegory was vague, confused and unanchored in a specific cultural reality. In Haroun and the Sea of Stories these pitfalls have been successfully avoided. Devoid of digression, compact and unified in effect, this is perhaps the most focussed of Rushdie's novels, and as an allegory it is perhaps fit to rank with the best in the English language.
It is precisely this power of focussing that is missing in The Moor s• Last Sigh (1995). All the usual ingredients of Rushdie's fiction are here: a large canvas; a narrative covering several generations; characters sporting different kinds of eccentricities; employment of thinly disguised real-life personages; Magic Realism; a conscious attempt to allegorise; and constant word-play. But these several elements do not seem to coalesce well enough to constitute a unified whole. This is probably because some of these ingredients appear to be merely routine gestures, rather than organic parts of the narrative.
Consider, for example, the curious fact that the protagonist, the "Moor" grows twice as fast as his biological age, owing to a casual wish made by his mother, so that he is actually born only four and a half months after conception, and he is sixty at the age of thirty. This idea is evidently borrowed from Gunter Grass, whose protagonist, Oskar in The Tin Drum refuses to grow after the age of three. Both are typical examples of Magic Realism, but in The Tin Drum, the protagonist's refusal to grow has a profound thematic significance; it symbolises, in a powerful way, the stunting of the intellectual growth of the nation during the totalitarian Nazi rule in Germany. Rushdie has not been able to invest the Moor's double-fast biological growth with a similar symbolic meaning. It remains little more than a clever gimmick.
The same objection must be taken to the putative parallel suggested at various places in the novel between the protagonist, the Moor and Boabdil, the last Moorish sultan of Granada. The protagonist's real name is "Moraes" which is shortened as "Moor", and his surname, "Zogoiby" means "unlucky" - an adjective which fits
Midnight's Children 's Children: The Novel - II 45
Boabdil also, because with his defeat in 1492 ended the eight-hundredyear-old Moorish kingdom in Spain. The picture, "The Moor's Last Sigh" depicting Boabdil riding out of the palace of Alhambra also figures at more than one place. But the comparison is limited to superficial details like these, and is not rigorously worked out in symbolic terms, in respect of character and action. It would be uncharitable, but perhaps correct to suggest that Boabdil was an afterthought, which provided an attractive title, since the "Moor", like Boabdil, was destined to be the last of his line.
The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999), Rushdie's latest novel, stands apart from all his other narratives in that it is his first attempt to deal with the theme of love. Vina. a singer, is the woman the ground beneath whose feet is worshipped by her lover, Ormus Cama. Rushdie implies a symbolic parallel between a modern love story and an ancient legend: the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The names of Rushdie's lovers are symbolic. "Ormus" is a variation on "Orpheus" and "Cama", a common Parsi name also recalls "Kama", the Hindu god of love. "Vina" is a musical instrument, and music plays a crucial role in the narrative. There is an interesting twist given to the old story. Ormus, injured seriously in a car-crash, lies in a coma. Vina who has been separated' from him for long, gets to hear his latest song, "Beneath Her Feet," and hastens to be at his bedside and he revives. So, in Rushdie's narrative, it is Eurydice who brings Orpheus back from the dead, and not the other way round. Finally, the lovers are separated for good, when Vina disappears, literally swallowed up by the "ground beneath her feet", in an earthquake in Mexico.
The chief weakness of the novel is that the lovers fail to come to life. It is extremely difficult to portray romantic love credibly in this hard-headed age of ours, where even the word has become devalued (the London barmaid calls you "luv"); and perhaps only lyricism of the highest kind can make the feat possible. Rushdie's attempts in this direction lack conviction:
How shall we sing of the coming together of long-parted lovers separated by foolish mistrust for a sad decade, reunited at last by music? Shall we say they ran singing through fields of asphodel and drank the nectar of the gods . . . . ?
This tissue of conventionalities becomes all the more unconvincing when one remembers that Vina continues to flirt with her friend Rai all the time, and on the night previous to her death, she has had a man warming her bed. 46 Indian English Literature: 1980-2000
Emotion is hardly Rushdie's strong suit; fantasy, irony, and satire are. It is hardly surprising therefore that the minor characters, who afford him ample scope to exercise his powers, are much better realized: Cyrus, the pathological killer, called "the Pi llowman" because he smothers his numerous victims with a pillow; Piloo Doodhwala, involved in a goat-scam, and Ormus's father, a sham-barrister, who is finally exposed. The weakness at the heart of the narrative is compounded by the excessive, and at times puerile word-play (e.g. "Cut the throats of your goats and turn them into coats").
Just past the age of fifty, Salman Rushdie should have many more years of creative writing before him; and the recent easing of the deadly fatwa should make for more congenial conditions of work. Meanwhile, Indian English literature owes him much. Known earlier only for a few prominent writers, and studied in a few universities abroad, Indian writing in English has now won far wider acceptance, not only in English-speaking countries, but in the wide world also, through translations. And it was Rushdie who showed the way by his bold "chutnification" of English.