Sukeshi Kamra


In 1994, the editors of the Indian Review o f Books lamented: ‘it would seem that the great writing that a cataclysmic event like the Partition should have produced is yet to come in full measure, and offer the catharsis that only literature perhaps can’ (1). In the same year, Alok Bhalla, the editor of one of the first Englishlanguage collections of Partition literature reportedly stated in an interview: ‘there is not just a lack of great literature, there is, more seriously, a lack of history’ (qtd. in Ravikant 160).1 This lament has taken on the force of tradition with Professor Jaidev commenting, in 1996, that Partition literature ‘is not a gallery of well-wrought urns’ (2) and Ian Talbot, in 1997, stating that the ‘stereotypes and stylised emotional responses’ typical of ‘lesser novelists’ is ‘pervasive in much of the literature of partition, whether it has been produced by contemporaries or those distanced from the actual events’ (105-106). As recently as 2001, an otherwise valuable collection of fiction and critical analysis of Partition, Translating Partition, opens with: ‘The best of the literature that emerged in the wake of Partition’ (Ravikant and Saint xi), reminding us that there is much literary production that is ignored because it has been found aesthetically wanting.



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