Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

During the upper middle-class in Dhaka during

During the 1970s
and 1980s, Bangla­deshi novels dealt with contemporary is­sues of an
independent nation. Rushdie’s novel, The Unadjusted Tune (1977) is a
translation of his own Bangla novel. Niaz Zaman, originally a Punjabi married
to a Bangladeshi, wrote a novel entitled The Crooked Neem Tree (1982) during
her ex­ile in the liberation war. The novel captures the urban lifestyle of the
upper middle-class in Dhaka during the 1960s. Zaman deserves compliment for
compil­ing several texts of translated short stories on war and diverse themes
by Ban­gladeshi writers and translating fairy tales and folktales of
Bangladesh. Abu Rushd’s novel The Aborted Island (1985) portrays the struggling
life of a slum woman. San-jib Dutta’s novel Juda Tree (1986) written in the
modern style of stream of consciousness depicts some of the incomprehensible
proportions of life. Abdul Matin’s memoir When the Grass was Green (1989)
written in the form of a bildungsroman is about a village boy growing up in a
con­servative family. S. M. Ali has published two books, Rainbow over Padma
(1994) and After the Dark Night (1974). The first book is a novel that depicts
the struggle of a group of people trying to create a new future against all
odds, chiefly challenging the rotten sociopolitical order in the country.
Seasonal Adjustments (1994), a prize-winning novel by Adib Khan, a Ban­gladeshi
emigrant in Australia, outlines a story about a Bangladeshi immigrant who
returns to his motherland and tries to adjust with everything; it is a novel of
di­aspora tradition that relates him with writers such as Salman Rushdie and
Amitav Ghosh. Farhana Haque Rahman, in her novel The Eye of the Heart (1998),
procreates a detailed experience of a newly appointed Bangladesh ambassador to
Washington through an exceptional eye for detailed narrative skill. Razia Khan
Amin published an English novel, Draupadi, which she had translated from her
own novel in Bangla (1998). The novel is a jovial representation of a
triangular rela­tionship between three protagonists juxta­posed by the
underlying anxieties of the liberation war looming in the foreground. Sayema T.
Hasan’s novella Ava (1998) rec­reates the world of the Zamindars of the former
days of Bengal. The Storyteller (2000) by Abid Khan similar to Salman Rushdie’s
The Moor’s Last Sigh. Early prominent Bengali writers in English included Begum Rokeya and Rabindranath
Tagore. Modern Bangladeshi writers include Tahmima Anam, Kaiser Haq, K. Anis Ahmed, Razia Khan, Neamat Imam, Monica Ali and Zia Haider Rahman.

Some Creative writing in English in Bangla­desh is more
focused on poetry than on other
forms of writing. While the older generation of poets have dwelt more on local
issues, the younger generation of po­ets are shifting their view toward more
global and universal matters. The poetic course of Bangladesh is changing
rapidly toward a subgenre and is thus challenged with a wider audience that is
perhaps still to come.

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Bangladeshi literature
in English is largely a corpus of translated works, and creative writing in
English is still sparse in the country because unlike other South Asian
countries, Bangladesh is largely a monolingual country. Although books by
several writers have been translated from Bangla and have received
international recognition, the trajectory of literature in English from
Bangladesh is still develop­ing. Those who write originally in English,
however, are more inclined to writing poetry than fiction, although in recent
years the practice of fiction writing is increasing and has begun to receive
considerable attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.4.2. Sri Lankan Literature in English

Sri Lankan writing in
English came of an age only in the 1980s. There were a number of reasons for
this phenomenon, which marks a qualitatively different experience from that of
other countries in the Common­wealth. It was particularly unusual too, inas­much
as English is still a very foremost language in Sri Lanka, and it has achieved
this status long before independence in 1948. However, for a long time it was
seen as noticeably a language of the elite group, and thus, the experiences
defined by writing in English were considered to be outside the native
experiences considered characteristic of the country.

Thus what might be termed
the liter­ary elite, cultivating an almost artificial na­tionalism, was highly
critical of writing in English. An English professor claimed a Sri Lankan would
surely write in Sinhala or Tamil if he could; if he does not it is because he
cannot, while the poet Lakdasa Wikkramasinha vowed to stop writing in the
language of colonial masters. In the period immediately after in­dependence
then, there was a downgrading of those few who had in fact written in English
in the early years of the century. They were seen as being antinational. Hence,
both the caricature of English writers and also critique of the anglicized
elite, in the work of pioneers such as S. J. Crowther, were ignored, in fa­vor
of what were termed as more authentic writings in the indigenous languages.

A change began in the
1960s with the commitment of two writers of fiction, Pun-yakante Wijenaike and
James Goonewar-dene, who explored a range of Lankan experiences in the English
language. Though initially it was their presentation of rural life that won
applauses, since an elite concerned to sustain its original roots, in time it
was known that their analysis of the class from which they themselves bounced
was markedly more illuminating.

Luckily by the late
1970s, En­glish writing had developed more respect­able. Except  these two writers, Fernando sustained to
yield innova­tive and thrilling work that, although still through his Western
cultural outline, discovered more uniquely Sri Lankan subject. English writing
was taken seriously were two university academics. One was Ediriweera
Sarachchandra, pro­fessor of Sinhalese and generally accepted even now as the
most important Sri Lan­kan writer since independence. Better known as a
dramatist, he has also tried his hand on novels, the most famous of which was
written after the 1971. His anguished, largely auto­biographical explanation of
a professor torn by ethics, published as Curfew and a Full Moon in his
individual translation into En­glish, helped to reinstate writing in English to
decency. Moreover, his next novel founded on his knowledges as an ambassador in
France and it is written in English.

These growths originated
in time for writing in English to blossom throughout the 1980s, nevertheless
the chief motive for this was not pleasant. The ethnic battle of that period
inspired very vigorous writing that, possibly more factually than writing in
Sinhala or Tamil. The poetry of Jean Arasanayagam and Richard de Zoysa in
particular brought home the suffering of a nation determined by chauvinistic
language. Meanwhile Punyakante Wi-jenaike got to exploration of the psy­che of
rural communities disturbed by violence and war the same perceptive sub­tlety
she had exposed with regard to the sex­ual and financial embarrassments of an
elite instable by social change.

The innovative work has
been the achievement of that book manifests the suitability of SriLanka as a
subject, while events in the country added to its fascination in this re­spect.  It was considerably easier in the years that
followed for writers, even if settled abroad, to deal with current Sri Lankan
experi­ence, since the histrionic political developments in the country loaned
themselves to exposition of ethnicity and violence which is considered to be
worldwide issues.

Most noticeable amongst
these expa­triates were Shyam Selvadurai and Ro-mesh Gunesekera who have
explored in Funny Boy, the racial tensions that established over a decade and
culminated into the riots of 1983. He de­picted this in juxtaposition with the
grow­ing self-awareness of a homosexual in a society that demands conformity.
The in­tertwining of themes that deal critically with questions of tolerance
and individu­ality was brilliantly done for a first novel. Selvadurai’s second,
Cinnamon Gardens, which explores similar themes in a less fraught colonial
period, had a quieter re­ception but also shows involvement with what seems
still his home country. Moreover some woman writers, namely, namely,  ,
Seni Seneviratne, , Arany Uthayakumar ,
Pireeni Sundaralingam Dharini Abeyseker origin srilankan, but settled in
different countries have written about different subjects. Romesh Gunesekera on
the other hand clearly sees himself as a British writer and deals mainly with
immigrant perceptions. His work has been less well received amongst Sri Lankan
critics who see it as fractured land. Though what he describes, both in Reef
and his very strange second novel The Sandglass, is not an “orientalization”
of a classic sort. That, however, is due to his publicists who claim he
portrays the anguish of a trivial recognizable by Sri Lankans, the presentation
of expatriate outlooks cannot be faulted. His work then raises questions of
what constitutes post-colonialism in a context in which the dis­course is still
dominated by the colonial power.

Writers in Sri Lanka,
the most prominent now, apart from Wi-jenaike, are Carl Muller and Jean Arasa­nayagam.
The former writes about the Burgher community in a manner that has irritated
its more socially prominent mem­bers. The Burghers saw themselves as de­scendants
of Europeans, and therefore, more civilized than Sinhalese or Tamils, but
Muller presents a working-class element that has absorbed all aspects of Sri
Lankan culture with great gusto. He also deals with sexuality in a very direct
but also very humorous manner that has ap­pealed to many readers. In the last
decade, several young writers have begun to deal in En­glish with a range of
Sri Lankan experi­ences with a confidence that the earlier generation could not
command. Madh-bhashini Ratnayake and Neil Fernando-pulle seem the most
committed of these, while the field of drama, comparatively ne­glected before,
has seen extremely inno­vative work by Ruwanthi de Chocker. Previously, apart
from the expatriate Er­nest Maclntyre, and the somewhat cerebral Regi
Siriwardena, drama in English was almost nonexistent

It would seem then that
Sri Lankan writing in English will develop over the next few years to achieve a
similar status to that which such writing has in other for­mer colonies. The
relative paucity of criti­cal attention however, and the shrinking readership,
in a context in which English medium education was banned for several decades,
may countermand the results of what are essentially individual efforts by
several writers.

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