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Midnight’s grandchildren

Anglo-Indian fiction experienced a widely celebrated renaissance in the 1980s. Pankaj Mishra regrets its failure to reflect India's rich and varied literary culture

By Pankaj Mishra   April 1997

In the beginning was Rushdie. The critical and commercial success of Midnight’s Children in 1981 transformed the Anglo-Indian novel. Before Rushdie-and despite the presence of RK Narayan, Anita Desai and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala- India was regarded as a source of good second-division fiction, much of it produced by British writers such as Paul Scott and JG Farrell. Midnight’s Children changed all that. The novel was not only unlike anything ever written by an Indian writer; it was then the only novel of its kind in the English language: boldly multicultural, rooted in India and Indian storytelling traditions, but soaked in…

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