|One of the paintings that inspired Uday Prakash's |
"Warren Hastings and His Bull."
I hated every second of that class. For starts, I don't have much of an interest in South Asia. My studies and my interests are concerned primarily with East Asia (you know, where all the sexy men are), but I took this class because it counts toward my major and I love literature. The class actually wouldn't have been that bad had the teacher not come off as pompous and arrogant. She would ask for people's interpretations, their opinions, and tell them they're wrong. Also, she's one of those literary snobs who wouldn't touch a fantasy or a sci-fi book with a ten foot pole. And that, of course, automatically made me dislike her. Also, she likes to call on people and put them on the spot. If you don't give her an answer, then she likes to make you feel like a complete idiot. So during class, I was constantly afraid she was going to call on me. To the point where I was shaking.
Damn social anxiety.
So what did I take from the class?
Well, I feel like I have a better understanding of the history of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, but I don't feel as though I really have a sense of the different types of literatures that come out of those areas. The teacher didn't really delve into different genres of literature that are specific to those places. Perhaps there aren't any. I don't know. She never explained it. Oh, and I learned British people were jerks. And colonialism is bad.
The nice thing about the class was I didn't have to buy any books for it. All we read were short stories, plays, and snippets of novels that she posted online.
So if you're looking for a read that takes place in South Asia, here's what I read. The majority of the stories should be read knowing the historical context, so if you don't know much about India, then these might be harder to understand.
About British colonialism:
Short story: Warren Hastings and His Bull - Uday Prakash (stupid)
Play: The Dreams of Tipu Sultan - Girish Karnad (not bad)
Short story: The Chess Players - Munshi Premchand (also, there's a movie called Shatranj Ke Khilari "The Chess Players" by Bengali director Satyajit Ray)
About the partition of Pakistan and India:
Short story: An Unwritten Epic - Intizar Husain (skimmed through, boring)
Short story: Toba Tek Singh - Saadat Hasan Manto (this one's pretty funny)
About the Tamil/Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka:
Play: Rasanayagam's Last Riot by Ernest Macintyre (excellent)
Novel: Funny Boy - Shyam Selvadurai
Short story: Kabuliwala - Rabindranath Tagore
Short story: Postmaster - Rabindranath Tagore
Short story: Punishment - Rabindranath Tagore
Short story: The Quilt - Ismat Chughtai (makes me uncomfortable)
Short story: Sacred Duty - Ismat Chugtai
Short story: A Pair of Hands - Ismat Chugtai
Short story: Mirage - Talat Abbasi (You can actually read this here.)
If you'd like to know more about the stories, like what they're about or where to get them, don't hesitate to ask. Also, do you have any South Asian lit you could recommend?