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Indian Short Story Writers

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Instructor: Rachel Hanson

Rachel holds a PhD in English Literature and Creative Nonfiction and has written for numerous literary publications. She has taught courses in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and composition courses at the community college and university level.

In this lesson we will learn about Jhumpa Lahiri, Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, and Anita Desai as well as their works, influences, and writing inspiration. We will also learn the names of additional important Indian creative writers. Updated: 09/13/2021

Indian Writers

Anyone interested in short stories will be advised not to exclude the works of Indian writers. The social diversity, history, and languages of this subcontinent is celebrated worldwide and often explored in the succinct and powerful short story form. Let's explore just a few of the well-known Indian authors that are known for their short story work, as well as other formats.

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  • 0:04 Indian Writers
  • 0:28 Jhumpa Lahiri
  • 1:44 Mulk Raj Anand
  • 3:13 R.K. Narayan
  • 4:25 Anita Desai
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri is one of the most famous literary writers today. She was born in England but relocated to the United States with her family when she was a child. Her entry into the publishing world was not easy. In fact, for many years her work was rejected before she finally took off in the literary scene.

The work that first made her famous, The Interpreter of Maladies, is a collection of short stories published in 1999. This collection went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, one of the most prestigious honors a work of fiction can achieve in the United States. The Interpreter of Maladies also won a Pen/Hemingway award, and in 2014 Lahiri was awarded a National Humanities Award. The short story after which the collection is named, ''The Interpreter of Maladies,'' won an O. Henry Prize in 1999, which is considered a major honor as only 20 published short stories a year receive the award. Lahiri's other short stories, such as ''The Third and Final Continent'' and ''Unaccustomed Earth'' have also received wide recognition and awards.

Here's a select list of Jhumpa Lahiri's work:

  • In Other Words
  • The Clothing of Books
  • The Lowland
  • The Namesake: A Novel
  • Hell-Heaven

Mulk Raj Anand

Mulk Raj Anand was born in Pakistan just after the turn of the 20th century. He had a long life and wrote not only short stories but novels and nonfiction works as well. Born into the working class, he witnessed much suffering rooted in the problems of a cruel caste system, a system that divides people by the economic and social rank they were born to, throughout his earlier years.

This frustration certainly influenced his work, which became nationally recognized when he won the Padma Bhushan in the field of literature and education, an extremely high award in India. For his novel The Morning Face, Anand won the Sahitya Akademi Award, an extremely prestigious international literary award that recognizes works translated into or from the many languages of India. Receiving this honor brought even more attention to all his work, including his short stories. Anand was politically active and always seeking ways to fight social injustice, which he was imprisoned for while attending college in London in 1924. He also fought in the Spanish Civil war in 1937 in order to oppose fascism.

Mulk Ray Anand's short stories include:

  • ''The Lost Child''
  • ''The Barber's Trade Union''
  • ''Duty''
  • ''The Liar''
  • ''The Maharaja and the Tortoise''
  • ''A Rumour''
  • ''A Pair of Mustachios''
  • ''The Cobbler and the Machine''
  • ''A Confession''
  • ''A Promoter of Quarrels''
  • ''Lullaby''

R. K. Narayan

R. K. Narayan is often credited with bringing international attention to literature of India, widely publishing both novels and short stories. Narayan was also born at the turn of the 20th century in 1906. Narayan's work highlights Indian culture and characters that represented the working class, much as John Steinbeck and William Faulkner highlighted American culture and the working class in their works.

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