Reading India Now is an effort to outline what literary criticism might look like when it becomes attuned to the everyday lives that people live in India outside the shadow of history. Do the routines of a place simply constitute the backdrop against which important historical events play out, or might they also be important on their own terms? Why is the unspectacular, everyday present so often overlooked as a significant realm of experience for the study of India? Is this an issue particular to places like India?
This book foregrounds a time that is everywhere but virtually invisible—a time that is the Indian contemporary. Reading for the contemporary begins by recognizing the political and cultural contradictions of contemporary India: increasing communalization, wealth inequality, and consumerism but also new alternative cultures, queer spaces, publishing venues, readerships, and future imaginaries.
These contradictions are productive of the present. The contemporary offers us new and at times problematic formations; it is where the high and low meet, where conventional generic and formal categories break down, and where the sanctified literary dissolves.
Ulka Anjaria is Associate Professor of English at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. Her research interests are South Asian literatures and film, postcolonial literature and theory, the global novel, interdisciplinary approaches, and literary theory.
Introduction: In Search of an Indian Contemporary
Part I Locations
1. The New Provincialism
2. Writing the City Now
Part II Publics
3. In Pursuit of the Common Man
4. Melodrama and the Open Edge of Politics
Part III Representations
5. Literature beyond the Pale
6. Inside and Out
Afterword: Contemporaneity’s Futures