The inclusion of a book by Avni Doshi, an author of Indian origin, in the 2020 Booker longlist is yet another reminder that Indian fiction is being recognized by the globe. Her work, Burnt Sugar, is under consideration for the most coveted prize of the literary world. One might say that India has got accustomed to Booker wins. After all, authors such as VS Naipaul, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai and Arvind Adiga have all won before. What makes Doshi so different then?
This year, as many as three female Indian authors have hit the global news for fiction. In January, Deepa Anappara’s debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line launched to rave reviews from international critics. The book largely deals with vanishing youngsters from a basti. June had Megha Majumdar taking centre stage with her debut, A Burning. The Indian novelist, now living in New York, tells the story of a young Muslim girl accused of carrying out a terrorist attack. And now comes Doshi’s debut Burnt Sugar (published in India as Girl in White Cotton), which deals with a complicated relationship between a daughter and a mother who is losing her memory.
Each of the novels differs in its writing style and subject. What ties them together, perhaps, is the exploration of domains and issues dominated by male perspectives in much of the world’s written discourse. It is also refreshing to see a growing global comfort with Indian characters, be it Anappara’s Apu or Doshi’s Antara or Majumdar’s Jivan. These are novel written in easy English, relatable to the young world-literature lover. And one can only hope that this success inspires more of us to pick up the pen and prove its might.