As far as Kamala Markandaya and Bharati Mukherjee are concerned, they are two distinguished women novelists of the

post-modern era in the realm of Indo-Anglian fiction. There is great affinity between the two regarding the themes prevalent in their creations. Let’s take them one by one. Born as ‘Kamala Purnaiya’ in 1924 in Chimakurti, a small southern village in India, Kamala Markandaya learned traditional Hindu culture and values. She was an elite Brahman. Between the years of 1940-1947, Markandaya was a student at the University of Madras, where she studied history. While studying at the University, she worked as a journalist, writing short fiction stories. In 1948 Markandaya decided to further pursue her dream of becoming a writer by moving to London, where she met her husband Bertrand Taylor, a native Englishman. In her lifetime, Kamala Markandaya published ten novels, all dealing with post-colonial themes in modern India. She is most famous for her novel Nectar in a Sieve, which was her third novel written, but the first novel published. Nectar in a Sieve became a bestseller in March, 1955, earning her over $100,000 in prizes. Some of her other novels include: A Silence of Desire, Some Inner Fury, A Handful of Rice, Possession, The Coffer Dams, The Nowhere Man, Two Virgins, Pleasure City, and The Golden Honeycomb. Kamala Markandaya is respected by many for her outspoken voice among the Indian people and has often been credited by many for bringing recognition to Indian literature. Charles Larson of American University in Washington wrote, “Most Americans’ perception of India came through Kamala Markandaya; she helped forge the image of India for American readers in schools and book clubs.” After Markandaya’s husband died in 1986, she made frequent trips to India, where she continued to write. On May 16, 2004 Kamala Markandaya died in London at the age of 79. Although she is no longer alive, her voice will always be heard through her novels. She will continue to raise awareness about India and teach others in the West about a culture otherwise largely unfamiliar. Through her novels, Markandaya brings to light the complication of post-colonial and traditional Indian social hierarchy as well as the implications prevalent within both systems. These themes are most noticeable in her novel A Silence of Desire, where she addresses the issues of social classes of India and the controversies surrounding this social hierarchy. A Silence of Desire tells of a life journey of a loving, wealthy, middle class family, living comfortably and enjoying many luxuries. However, things quickly worsen when Dandekar loses respect for his wife, Sarojini, after finding a mysterious picture of a strange man, whom he believes to be her secret lover. This story focuses on the strong bond of love and dedication between the family, and the willingness they have to make things work between them. Her novel A Handful of Rice is one of the first novels to exemplify the plight of rural peasants to the new urban lifestyle. She traces the path of the antagonist in the novel, Ravi, a rural peasant who moved to the city to escape the vicious cycle of starvation in his village. When he moves to the city he befriends an orphan who grew up in the city. Ravi's life becomes full of robberies, alcohol, and prostitutes. He sleeps on the sidewalk and eats perhaps one meal a day. Things change when Ravi falls in love with Nalini, the daughter of a man he robs. Ravi begins to change his ways and begins working for Apu, Nalini’s father. Ravi marries Nalini and realizes that even while working, it is very difficult to make a decent living. Ravi becomes obsessed with greed and constantly battles between going back to his old way of life with easy money and freedom and living a middle class life. Markandaya conveys the stress of society’s standards through Jayamma, Nalini’s mother. Jayamma never seems to care about the hardships their family

encounters but is more concerned that the neighbors do not find out about their struggles. As Ravi and Nalini have children, financial stresses increase and Ravi becomes more stingy and greedy. He then associates with his old gang friends and starts to abuse Nalini. Finally, Ravi is forced to choose between his money and his son, a choice that in the end claims his fate. Whereas in A Handful of Rice, Markandaya wrestles with issues of social hierarchy, in the novel Shalimar she accurately portrays two parallel societies in India. The main character, Rikki, is introduced to both of these societies during his adolescence. Rikki was born into the life of fishing. His father, brother, and cousins were all fisherman. However, at a young age his entire family falls victim to the might of the sea. Rikki is taken in by a family of missionaries. These new guardians show Rikki a completely new life. Markandaya shows that the presence of both cultures has painted the beautiful picture of what has become India. This novel depicts the evolution and development of Indian society and culture by describing the changes of Shalimar. This novel is a nice addition to her already extensive list of work. Markandaya’s best-known work, Nectar in a Sieve, is a heart wrenching tale that depicts the hardships and joys of a woman’s life in rural India. The story follows the life of a girl, Rukumani, throughout her whole life and all that she witnesses growing up in a changing India. Ruku marries at thirteen to a man she has never met before and moves far from her family to the country. There she has many children whom she and her husband struggle to feed when drought strikes and numerous crop cycles are destroyed. Ruku witnesses the impact that post-colonial influences have on India when a tannery is built in their village and changes their life drastically. Ruku watches her children struggle to survive on what little food they have and her infant baby eventually dies of starvation. Her daughter, rejected by her husband for being unable to bear a child, resorts to prostitution to help supplement the family. Finally, Ruku and her husband leave their village for the city, only to find more depravity and hardship. Markandaya’s bulk of work is symbolic of her own life duality: born and raised Indian and married to a British man. In Some Inner Fury, Kamala concentrates on traditional India in early post-colonialism and the struggle to create their own identity, separate from the British. In this story, which is semi-autobiographical, she talks about a young Indian woman, Mira, who falls in love with an Englishman, Robert, and in the end she chooses her people over him. Markandaya also emphasizes the inherent dissimilarities among Indians and the English during the postcolonial period, by constantly drawing boundaries throughout her writing about the potential fusion of these two very different cultures, and in particular a differing social and political status. Whereas in Nectar in a Sieve, Markandaya subtly alludes to the need for Indians to forge their own path in the post-colonial era, in Some Inner Fury, Markandaya is much more explicit about the need to break from the British rule and influence. This is most noticeable as she decides to leave the man she loves and instead, follow her own people. In all of Kamala Markandaya’s works, a common theme of social distinctions and the differences between people living in poverty and wealth, as well as the difficulties each class undergoes is prevalent. Markandaya is an evolutionary and a great preceptor of the environment surrounding her as she thinks ahead to environmental and societal problems that globalization and development bring. Bharati Mukherjee was born on July 27, 1940 to wealthy parents, Sudhir Lal and Bina Mukherjee in Calcutta, India. She learned how to read and write by the age of three. In 1947, she moved to Britain with her family at the age of eight and lived in Europe for about three and a

half years. By the age of ten, Mukherjee knew that she wanted to become a writer, and had written numerous short stories. After getting her B.A from the University of Calcutta in 1959 and her M.A. in English and Ancient Indian Culture from the University of Baroda in 1961, she came to the United States of America. Having been awarded a scholarship from the University of Iowa, earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 1963 and her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1969.While studying at the University of Iowa, she met and married a Canadian student from Harvard, Clark Blaise, on September 19, 1963. The two writers met and, after a brief courtship, married within two weeks. Together, the two writers have produced two books along with their other independent works. Mukherjee's career a professor and her marriage to Blaise Clark has given her opportunities to teach all over the United States and Canada. Currently she is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Mukherjee's works focus on the "phenomenon of migration, the status of new immigrants, and the feeling of alienation often experienced by expatriates" as well as on Indian women and their struggle. Her own struggle with identity first as an exile from India, then an Indian expatriate in Canada, and finally as a immigrant in the United States has lead to her current contentment of being an immigrant in a country of immigrants. Mukherjee's works correspond with biographer Fakrul Alam's catagorization of Mukherjee's life into three phases. Her earlier works, such as the The Tiger's Daughter and parts of Days and Nights in Calcutta, are her attempts to find her identity in her Indian heritage. The Tiger's Daughter is a story about a young girl named Tara who ventures back to India after many years of being away only to return to poverty and turmoil. This story parallels Mukherjee's own venture back to India with Clark Blaise in 1973 when she was deeply affected by the chaos and poverty of Indian and mistreatment of women in the name of tradition, "What is unforgivable is the lives that have been sacrificed to notions of propriety and obedience". Her husband, however, became very intrigued by the magic of the myth and culture that surrounded every part of Bengal. These differences of opinion, her shock and his awe, are seen in one of their joint publications, Days and Nights in Calcutta. The second phase of her writing, according to Alam, encompasses works such as Wife, the short stories in Darkness, an essay entitled "An Invisible Woman," and The Sorrow and the Terror, a joint effort with her husband. These works originate in Mukherjee's own experience of racism in Canada, where despite being a tenured professor, she felt humiliated and on the edge of being a "housebound, fearful, affrieved, obsessive, and unforgiving queen of bitterness". After moving back to the United States, she wrote about her personal experiences. One of her short stories entitled "Isolated Incidents" explores the biased Canadian view towards immigrants that she encountered, as well as how government agencies handled assults on particular races. Another short story titled "The Tenant" continues to reflect on her focus on immigrant Indian women and their mistreatment. The story is about a divorced Indian woman studying in the States and her experiences with interracial relationships. One quotation from the story hints at Mukherjee's views of Indian men as being too preoccupied to truly care for their wives and children: "'All Indian men are wife beaters,' Maya [the narrator] says. She means it and doesn't mean it." In Wife, Mukherjee writes about a woman named Dimple who has been suppressed by such men

and attempts to be the ideal Bengali wife, but out of fear and personal instability, she murders her husband and eventually commits suicide. The stories in Darkness further endeavor to tell similar stories of immigrant sand women. In her third phase, Mukherjee is described as having accepted being "an immigrant, living in a continent of immigrants”. She describes herself as American and not the he hyphenated IndianAmerican title: I maintain that I am an American writer of Indian origin, not because I'm ashamed of my past, not because I'm betraying or distorting my past, but because my whole adult life has been lived here, and I write about the people who are immigrants going through the process of making a home here... I write in the tradition of immigrant experience rather than nostalgia and expatriation. That is very important. I am saying that the luxury of being a U.S. citizen for me is that can define myself in terms of things like my politics, my sexual orientation or my education. My affiliation with readers should be on the basis of what they want to read, not in terms of my ethnicity or my race. Mukherjee continues writing about the immigrant experience in most of the stories in The Middle Man and Other Stories, a collection of short stories which won her the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Fiction, Jasmine, and essays. These stories explore the meeting of East and West through immigrant experiences in the U.S. and Canada along with further describing the idea of the great melting pot of culture in the United States. Jasmine develops this idea of the mixing of the East and West with a story telling of a young Hindu woman who leaves India for the U.S. after her husband's murder, only to be raped and eventually returned to the position of a caregiver through a series of jobs. The unity between the First and Third worlds is shown to be in the treatment of women as subordinate in both countries. Her latest works include The Holder of the World, published in 1993, and Leave It to Me, published in 1997. The Holder of the World is a beautifully written story about Hannah Easton, a woman born in Massachusetts who travels to India. She becomes involved with a few Indian lovers and eventually a king who gives her a diamond known as the Emperor's Tear. The story is told through the detective searching for the diamond and Hannah's viewpoint. Mukherjee's focus continues to be on immigrant women and their freedom from relationships to become individuals. She also uses the female characters to explore the spatiotemporal (Massachusetts to India) connection between different cultures. In Leave It to Me, Mukherjee tells the story of a young woman sociopath named Debby DiMartino, who seeks revenge on parents who abandoned her. The story reveals her ungrateful interaction with kind adoptive parents and a vengeful search for her real parents (described as a murderer and a flowerchild). The novel also looks at the conflict between Eastern and Western worlds and at mother-daughter relationships through the political and emotional topics by the main character in her quest for revenge. Candia McWilliam of The London Review of Books describes Mukherjee appropriately as "A writer both tough and voluptuous" in her works. A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY: • Abidi, Syed Zaheer Hasan. Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve: A Critical Study. Bareilly, India: Prakash Book Depot, 1976.

• Bhatnagar, Anil Kumar. Kamala Markandaya: A Thematic Study. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 1995. • Markandaya, Kamala. Nectar in a Sieve. London, Putnam, 1954; New York, Day, 1955. • Markandaya, Kamala. Some Inner Fury. London, Putnam, 1955; New York, Day, 1956. • Markandaya, Kamala. A Silence of Desire. London, Putnam, and New York, Day, 1960. • Markandaya, Kamala. Possession. Bombay, Jaico, London, Putnam, and New York, Day, 1963. • Markandaya, Kamala. A Handful of Rice. London, Hamish Hamilton, and New York, Day, 1966. • Markandaya, Kamala. The Coffer Dams. London, Hamish Hamilton, and New York, Day, 1969. • Markandaya, Kamala. The Nowhere Man. New York, Day, 1972; London, Allen Lane, 1973. • Markandaya, Kamala. Two Virgins. New York, Day, 1973; London, Chatto and Windus, 1974. • Markandaya, Kamala. The Golden Honey Comb. London, Chatto and Windus, and New York, Crowell, 1977. • Markandaya, Kamala. Pleasure City. London, Chatto and Windus, 1982; as Shalimar, New York, Harper, 1983. • Mukherjee, Bharati. The Tiger's Daughter, Houghton, 1972. • Mukherjee, Bharati. Wife, Houghton, 1975. • Mukherjee, Bharati. An Invisible Woman, McClelland & Stewart, 1981. • Mukherjee, Bharati. Darkness, Penguin, 1985. • Mukherjee, Bharati. The Middleman and Other Stories, Grove, 1988. • Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine, Grove, 1989. • Mukherjee, Bharati. The Holder of the World, Knopf: New York City, 1993. • Mukherjee, Bharati. Leave It to Me, A.A. Knopf: New York City, 1997.

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