I counted 54 contributors and might have missed a couple. About a dozen are British, the rest are Indian contributors. What is most refreshing is that although this volume is edited by an Englishman, he has come up not with the predictable roll call of those already well-known outside India but with a range of names from the fairly well-established to those yet to make their mark.
Within its range of lyrics, short stories, travelogues, reviews, memoirs, writing on art and architecture and cinema, literary criticism and historical essays, there is something for everyone and much for many. I've now read almost every piece and can report that there is only one that I neither enjoyed or admired. That is a very high hit rate.
We get vigorous writing from several new or newish voices (alongside some better-known ones) which speaks of a great energy and vitality centering on writing in and about India. Certainly the overall impression—the sum of the parts—is greater than any individual contribution. Let me single out a few favourites: Gautam Bhatia's quirky, dark short story, An Indian Honeymoon; Raja Rao's Passion for Trains which loses him in Bangladesh for a few years; Bruce King's exposure of much post-colonial posturing; Mehrotra's, Khair's, Surendran's poems as well as those by the known names of Moreas and Parthasarathy; Alastair Niven's recovery of Mulk Raj Anand, Raghu Rai's photos; Sophie James in Simla turning nostalgia into something more presently resonant. And there are many others unsung through lack of space. My sole complaint is the omission of the excellent Ranjit Hoskote as one of the most accomplished younger writers largely unknown outside India.
In sum, the volume is far more interesting and informative on the state of play in Indian creative and critical writing than any other general survey in book or magazine format I have seen this year. If it is surpassed, I will donate my reviewer's fee to a charity of the editor's choice. LM's byline for this issue is 'with affection' and it shows. I hope that, as a result, readers in India are encouraged not only to buy this issue, but as a thank you to Ross also to subscribe to LM which does not have the financial backing of some of its more glamorous competitors promoting new writing in English.
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