Could a region as varied as Southasia expect anything other than today’s dizzying cornucopia of literary creations?
While Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981) was a watershed that impacted how the world viewed Southasian writing, the author’s magical prose also transformed the way this writing looked at itself. Although some critics categorised it as a valorisation of the ‘post-colonial exotic’, Pico Iyer’s famous essay ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ described it as ‘a call to free spirits everywhere to remake the world with imagination’, opening up ‘a new universe by changing the way we tell stories and see the world around us.’ The voice of Saleem Sinai, Rushdie’s main character, reclaimed the spoken sounds of the Bombay streets into English literary usage. The sinuous stylistic flow also reflected the texture and grain of Urdu, which is an important part of Rushdie’s literary inheritance.
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