Gita Mehta 1943-
Indian novelist and essayist.
The following entry presents an overview of Mehta's career through 2001.
With her first collection of essays, Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East (1979), Mehta joined a growing number of critically and popularly acclaimed female Indian authors who write primarily in English. Although the essays in Karma Cola function as sarcastic responses to the West's infatuation with India, her novels Raj (1989) and A River Sutra (1993) seek to create a deeper understanding of Indian history, culture, and mysticism. Mehta's fiction displays a preoccupation with the inherent difficulties behind social interactions, either through examining the cultural disconnects between Great Britain and India during the era of colonial rule or through the myriad social and cultural divisions within traditional Indian society.
Mehta was born in 1943, in Delhi, India. Her father, Biju Patnaik, was a political activist in the Indian Independence movement who was arrested for his activism three weeks after the birth of his daughter. At the age of three, Mehta was sent to be raised in a convent in Kashmir, allowing her mother to travel and campaign for her husband's release. After India regained sovereignty from Great Britain in 1947, Mehta's father was released from prison and resumed his political career. Mehta travelled to England for higher education, earning her university degree at Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, she met and later married Ajai Singh “Sonny” Mehta, with whom she has a son. Having chosen a career in journalism, Mehta has covered a number of significant world events, including the Bangladesh War of 1971 and the first elections in the former Indian princely states. She has also written and directed several television documentaries for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
Mehta's first work, Karma Cola, was written as a critical response to the ways that the Western counter-culture community has regarded India and Indian culture. Due to the fascination of spiritualists, hippies, and popular rock musicians The Beatles with Hindu mysticism, large groups of Americans flock to India each year in search of religion, drugs, and enlightenment. Through the essays in Karma Cola, Mehta seeks to debunk the notion that all Indians are experts on spiritual matters and to contrast the irony of Western materialism being used to obtain traditionally Eastern religious beliefs. In such essays as “Om Is Where the Art Is” and “Sex and the Single Guru,” Mehta humorously and sarcastically exposes the emptiness behind placing one's hopes for the future in the hands of gurus and transcendental meditation. Set in the early- to mid-twentieth century, Raj recounts the life of a sheltered Indian princess, Princess Jaya, as she witnesses the end of British imperial rule in India. Her father, once a powerful man in the community, is slowly being forced into obscurity by the strict rules imposed on him by the British Raj—the British government in India. Jaya is eventually sent to marry a prince in a neighboring kingdom, though her husband—like many in India at the time—is obsessed with emulating the British. Her husband's preoccupation with Western values causes him to view anything Eastern as inferior, including his wife. After the era of colonial rule ends in 1947, Jaya is finally able to exert her own independence by registering for a position in the newly formed Indian government. The style and structure of Mehta's second novel, A River Sutra, has frequently been compared to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The plot is constructed around a series of short sketches—“The Monk's Story,” “The Teacher's Story,” “The Executive's Story,” “The Courtesan's Story,” “The Musician's Story,” “The Minstrel's Story,” and “The Song of the Narmada”—which are brought together as a whole by a nameless narrator who speaks in the first-person. The narrator is a bureaucrat who leaves his government position to manage a small inn along the banks of India's holiest river, the Narmada. The Narmada becomes a recurring motif in each of the stories as well as the narrator's inability to understand the tales of love he hears from his guests. Through these narrative threads, Mehta illuminates the interconnectedness of the diverse range of cultures within India while expounding on the universalities of love. In Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India (1997), Mehta returns to her critical examination of Indian culture, this time focusing on Indian history since the end of British rule. The essays cover a wide range of subjects from current Indian political thought to the growing influence of American pop culture on Indian youth. Mehta also discusses the duality of India's continuing relationship with Britain and the stagnancy of certain Indian social movements, contrasting them with her father's own passionate activism.
Since the publication of Karma Cola, critics have heralded Mehta as a fresh new voice in Indian literature. Reviewers have consistently praised her wit and insight into Western misconceptions of the East and cross-cultural relations. However, Raj has received a mixed critical reaction, with some arguing that the protagonist is overly passive and the narrative is lacking in plot. Others have complained that Raj focuses too heavily on historical minutia and fails to create compelling characterizations. A River Sutra, conversely, has drawn wide acclaim for its emphasis on the multiculturalism of India and the importance of individuals within a community. The novel has additionally been complimented for Mehta's use of interlocking short stories to cumulatively paint a vivid picture of India's rich spiritual beliefs. Lavinia Greenlaw has remarked that A River Sutra, “has a clarity and a dignity that contains these stories of endurance and loss, avoiding any excess of sentiment or pathos.” Snakes and Ladders has also garnered a favorable critical reception, with reviewers commending Mehta's insight into current Indian political trends. Michael Gorra has commented that, despite the collection's “disjointed structure,” the essays in Snakes and Ladders are ultimately “marked by warmth and charm.”
SOURCE: Simon, Maurya. “A Princess Remembers the Fall of British India.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (9 April 1989): 10.
[In the following review, Simon observes that Raj is an eloquent and engaging novel, noting that Mehta provides a unique feminine perspective on Indian literature.]
“Providence,” wrote Rudyard Kipling, “created the Maharajahs to offer mankind a spectacle.” That spectacle flourished for several millennia within India, prior to the establishment of imperial rule in 1858 by the British Crown. Despite successive waves of foreign invasions and migrations over many centuries, and despite the passing and reformation of dynasties, the institution of Indian kingship (as old as the “Mahabharata” itself) remained constant and ubiquitous throughout the subcontinent until the mid-20th Century.
At the time of the first British colonies, India was ruled by 565 princely states. These states were most remarkable, perhaps, for their multiplicity and diversity. The very palaces and forts of the dynastic rulers varied remarkably, as well, in size, architecture, history and occupation: from a chieftain's well-appointed, tapestried tent to a maharajah's 400-room marble palace housing thousands of servants and retainers, rose-water-filled swimming pools, exotic zoos, squash courts, modern movie theaters and great, gilded durbar halls.
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SOURCE: Buruma, Ian. “Good Night, Sweet Princes.” New York Review of Books 36, no. 8 (18 May 1989): 9-10, 12.
[In the following essay, Buruma discusses the British colonial rule of India and its social and cultural effects as portrayed in Mehta's Raj.]
[In Raj: A Novel] Gita Mehta sets the scene well: India, the Roaring Twenties, the Royal Calcutta Turf Club. Jaya, wife of Prince Pratap of Sirpur, is watching the races, dressed in red and indigo, the Sirpur colors. She is joined by her brother-in-law, Maharajah Victor, a gentle man in love with a Hollywood star:
“The Sirpur colors seem to belong on you, Princess. I often think you are the only one of us who knows who you are.”
“But you are the Maharajah, hukam. You are Sirpur.”
He looked at her and Jaya was shocked at the unhappiness in his eyes. “Only by birth and the tolerance of the British Crown, not because I believe I am a king. I am acting and actors should be allowed to marry actresses.”
That is of course precisely what they were, the rajahs, maharajahs, nawabs, and Nizams of India, actors on a stage set by the British. Effectively emasculated by the Raj, they were useful as vassals to the British Crown, ruling chunks of India, red blotches on...
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SOURCE: Alibhai, Yasmin. “A False Orient.” New Statesman and Society 2, no. 54 (16 June 1989): 34.
[In the following review, Alibhai criticizes Raj as a meager and bland novel, deficient in characterization and inventiveness.]
There is a thin novel somewhere in this fat one [Raj]. Thin as a gruel that hardly satisfies the appetite it raises, in spite of being served up in an aureate bowl on a table heavy with exquisite silver. The story is the personal odyssey of Jaya, a Rajput princess who moves from a life of seclusion and exclusion in a sumptuous palace, first as a daughter and then the wife of a Maharajah, during the days of British rule, to a life of political commitment and power as she applies to be a candidate in the first free elections in her country. Jaya's story is obviously also meant to symbolize the history of India itself as it moved turbulently from the end of the 19th century to independence in 1949 and the liberation of Indian women as these historical convulsions rocked the social structures of the society.
It doesn't work and the problem may well be the aureate bowl. There is far too much meaningless detail, far too much cloying fascination with the exotic. In an article in the Observer a few years ago, Salman Rushdie attacked the kind of Raj Revival Enterprise that had started to flourish in Britain in the eighties. It represented, he said,...
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SOURCE: Curtis, Sarah. “Through the Lattice Chinks.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4501 (7 July 1989): 739.
[In the following review, Curtis praises Mehta's eye for detail in Raj but argues that the plot is uninspired and poorly narrated.]
In Raj, Gita Mehta, who was born in India and educated at Bombay and Cambridge Universities, chronicles the last years of the Rajput realms of India, from the turn of the century until 1950 when under the new Indian constitution the rulers of the kingdoms surrendered their powers. She does so through the eyes of Jaya, Princess of Balmer, whose fort and palaces on the edge of the desert have touches of Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Patiala and the other real States mentioned in the book as allies and neighbours. The idea of scanning the disintegration of the Rajputs through the lattice chinks of the zanana from which Mehta's heroine has to emerge is an ambitious and attractive one. The device of a hero born at a historic hour was used by Salman Rushdie in Midnight's Children, but there the parallels cease. Unfortunately, Mehta shows neither his narrative skill nor his imaginative gift.
Jaya is caught between conflicting traditions. Her father, the Maharajah Jai Singh, has taught her the traditional four arms of kingship: Saam—a king must serve his people's needs; Daan—he must provide for their welfare; Dand—he...
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SOURCE: Abel, Betty. “Quarterly Fiction Review.” Contemporary Review 255, no. 1485 (October 1989): 214.
[In the following excerpt, Abel asserts that Raj eloquently illustrates the lives of Indians, particularly Indian women, and their interpersonal relationships with each other and with British colonists in the early to mid-twentieth century.]
Raj by Gita Mehta, the new rival to Paul Scott, author of Jewel in the Crown, is a novel of stature. The plot is as sentimental and ordinary as many other tales of the Indian Continent under British rule: but Gita Mehta brings to this scenario a freshness and depth unusual in a romance of the Orient. Her plot concerns Jaya, a Princess raised in purdah who inevitably falls in love with a handsome young Englishman. Forced to marry a dissolute, unattractive Indian Prince, she later has an affair with a politically radical but heartless Casanova. Nonetheless, Jaya emerges a resolute, politically mature and well-balanced lady, bearing a suspicious resemblance to Indira Ghandi. But there is more to the novel than it seems so trite a plot could bear.
Written by an Indian woman, one moreover who finished her education at Cambridge, the book is marked out by its acceptance of the traditional culture of the Maharajahs which the author can show effortlessly, without self-conscious explanations of the kind which even Paul Scott, being...
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SOURCE: Greenlaw, Lavinia. “A River View.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4705 (4 June 1993): 23.
[In the following review, Greenlaw applauds Mehta for constructing an insightful and flowing narrative in A River Sutra, complimenting the novel's skillful use of fables as representations of modern Indian culture.]
The glossary at the back of A River Sutra tells us that sutra has two meanings: an aphoristic literary form, and a string or thread. In this book, the two usages are simultaneously employed, as a simple narrative carries the reader through a careful arrangement of interlocking didactic tales. Gita Mehta's skillfully constructed second novel follows the experiences of an Indian bureaucrat who retires to run a government resthouse, in the jungle by the sacred Narmada river. He has become a vanaprasthi, “someone who has retired to the forest to reflect”. The Narmada is the focus of his meditations, and its many historical and mythological associations mean that he finds life literally flowing past his door; for the river attracts pilgrims and refugees of all kinds. Their stories are brief but intense human dramas that not only explore the desire for enlightenment but also express the complex roots of India's cultural and political heritage.
The bureaucrat's first encounter is with a Jain monk. The son of a diamond merchant, he has forgone a life...
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SOURCE: Dalrymple, William. “When the Mocking Had to Stop.” Spectator 270, no. 8604 (5 June 1993): 38.
[In the following review, Dalrymple commends Mehta's prose and tone in A River Sutra, contending that the separate stories within the novel are varied yet unified in direction.]
The Hampstead novel this is not. In Gita Mehta's slim new volume [A River Sutra] we meet a cast the likes of which has rarely been seen before in the precious pages of English literary fiction. Eat your heart out Anita Brookner: this book has got ash-smeared ascetics and bejewelled courtesans, shy river-minstrels and enlightenment-seeking suicides, ardent young bandits (seduced—of course—by kidnapped virgins on ‘thin cotton quilts’ in the jungle), ‘charms that give men the strength of elephants in rut’ and, most extravagant of all,
an underground civilisation stretching all the way to the Arabian sea, peopled by a mysterious race, half human, half cobra.
Forget marital infidelity in NW1: in A River Sutra top executives do it with snakes.
All this comes as something of a surprise from a writer who first made her name—at the end of the flare-flapping, tie-dyed Seventies—by demythologising India. In Karma Cola: Marketing of the Mystic East, Gita Mehta had great fun mocking the...
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SOURCE: Rubin, Merle. Review of A River Sutra, by Gita Mehta. Christian Science Monitor 85, no. 152 (2 July 1993): 10.
[In the following excerpt, Rubin offers a positive assessment of A River Sutra, lauding Mehta's ability to connect the novel's individual storylines into a “well-designed whole.”]
Vacation, ideally, is an opportunity for renewal—whether it's a well-earned rest or a stimulating change of pace. The narrator of Gita Mehta's novel A River Sutra is an Indian government worker who seeks rest but finds stimulation. Hoping to relax from the hurly-burly of city life, he takes a position as manager of a rest house on the leafy banks of India's holy river, the Narmada.
This peaceful retreat proves to be fertile ground for studying the amazing variety of human behavior. Drawn to the sacred river, a wide array of pilgrims, ascetics, saints, and sinners—even an archaeologist—furnish stories to fascinate, bemuse, and astonish the rest-house manager.
There are stories of people deranged by love, of discouraged people who come to the river in the hope of healing. A young Jain, heir to his family's fortune, tells how he cast off his worldly possessions to follow the harsh, self-denying life of a Jain monk. A Muslim music teacher describes the tragic fate of his most gifted pupil, who had the ability to transport listeners into a state of...
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SOURCE: Jacob, Rahul. “Down the Stream of Stories.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (11 July 1993): 3.
[In the following review, Jacob applauds the graceful and fluid stories in A River Sutra, arguing that each story adds dimension to the main focus of the novel.]
There are a great number of us who are not quite able to believe in religion, yet are unable to embrace atheism, which seems “too final, certain, closed. Itself a kind of belief,” as Salman Rushdie observes in The Satanic Verses, Caught in the middle, we have more doubts than certainties, more questions than answers. Neglectful of both Mass and mall, we seek a moral dimension to our lives by turning to books for counsel.
The notion of writers as a secular clergy is not a novel one, but Gita Mehta would seem an unlikely candidate for that literary pulpit. It was she, after all, who, in her sometimes excessive satire Karma Cola, took—and gave—such delight in skewering the thousands of American and European flower children who traipsed across India in the 1970s in search of enlightenment. They usually met hucksters instead of holy men, and Mehta reveled in the confusion: “They thought we were profound. We knew we were provincial.”
In A River Sutra, Mehta returns to the same spiritual territory, examining afresh the tendency to disengage from the world rather too quickly....
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SOURCE: Annan, Gabriele. “Tales from the Narmada Woods.” New York Review of Books 40, no. 13 (15 July 1993): 36.
[In the following review, Annan discusses the depth of emotion in the six varied story stories that comprise A River Sutra.]
A River Sutra consists of six tales that make up a fictionalized primer on Indian attitudes to religion, love, music, and poetry. An entry in the glossary explains the word sutra:
Literally, a thread or string. Also, a term for literary forms, usually aphoristic in nature.
What this particular sutra strings together, though, are not so much aphorisms as parables. They are as easy-to-read, unanalytical, and, in some cases, as violent as the ones in the New Testament—or the tales of Scheherazade, for that matter. This gives them an antique patina in piquant contrast to the jeeps, sound recorders, air conditioning, and relics from a later period of antiquity—like a copy of Goren's Contract Bridge moldering in a tea plantation bungalow or the clerk in the guest house who sounds just like the babu in Kipling's Kim.
The string part of the narrative is provided by a senior bureaucrat who has chosen to become “a vanaprasthi, someone who has retired to the forest to reflect”—though not to the point of radical asceticism. “I knew I was...
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SOURCE: Ramachandran, C. N., and A. G. Kahn. “Gita Mehta's A River Sutra: Two Views.” Literary Criterion 29, no. 3 (1994): 1-15.
[In the following essay, Ramachandran and Kahn offer two different critical perspectives on A River Sutra. Ramachandran asserts that the multitude of themes and characters in A River Sutra act as a mirror of modern India culture—diverse yet bound to the traditions of the past—while Kahn argues that the River Narmada—not the Bureaucrat/narrator—is the main character of the novel.]
1. C. N. RAMACHANDRAN—MANGALORE UNIVERSITY
A River Sutra is Gita Mehta's third novel, the other two being Karma Cola and Raj. While the first two novels are in the well-known comic-ironic mode, this novel can be said to be, roughly, in the allegorical mode. Further, one wonders whether A River Sutra can be called a novel at all. Having the Western Don Quixote and the Indian Dasakumara Charitha as its models A River Sutra exploits the formal possibilities of the genre to the fullest. It is a framed narrative. It is the story of an I.A.S. Officer, who, after retirement, chooses to be the manager of a Guest House, on the banks of the Narmada river in the Vindhya range. Since at this spot, there are pilgrimage centres of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Muslims, the manager constantly comes a cross many...
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SOURCE: Fisher, Marlene. Review of A River Sutra, by Gita Mehta. World Literature Today 68, no. 1 (winter 1994): 214.
[In the following review, Fisher contrasts the innocence of the narrator with the personalities of the individual characters in A River Sutra.]
Otherwise nameless, “little brother,” as his mullah friend Tariq Mia calls him, is a former senior bureaucrat from Bombay. Following the death of his wife, he has become a vanaprasthi of sorts who, so he thought, withdrew from the world by accepting the position of manager of the government rest house on the banks of the Narmada River. Kindly and well-meaning, little brother is the perfect narrator of the stories he hears as he participates vicariously in the passionate lives of those whom he encounters on his daily walks.
The narrator's naïveté and failure to comprehend what he is told act as foil and counterpoint to the lusts and greed and aching desires—to all of the human passions—that had never once consumed his own days. Again and again he asks old Tariq Mia what happened and why: “I was sorry for the young man, but his story made no sense to me”; “I asked what he meant.” In response to Professor Shankar's question, “What do you want to know?,” he replies, “Why you became an ascetic, why you stopped. What all this means.” In fact, the very innocence of little brother, and his puzzled...
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SOURCE: Karamcheti, Indira. “Cover Stories.” Women's Review of Books 11, no. 4 (January 1994): 20-1.
[In the following review, Karamcheti compliments Mehta's imagery and cultural romanticism in A River Sutra but argues that the stories are superficial and ignore the social and political issues facing modern India.]
You'd never know it over here, but India is one of the largest makers of movies in the world. The Indian film industry is astonishing for its sheer industriousness, if not for its renown. Yet here in the US, and probably through most of the West, we don't see (and don't really know about) this extraordinary output, this twentieth-century proliferation of Indian self-expression and interpretation of the world. It's not that we're wholly ignorant of it, but, typically, we're familiar with only one name at a time. India's entire fertile film industry has been fetishized in Satyajit Ray, whose works have enormous responsibility for representing “India” and the equally enormous power that comes with it.
Still, relatively more people know about India's film production than about its literary production, which follows a similar trickle-down, or should I say trickle-up, model—“up” at least in the sense that Western markets offer infinitely larger possibilities for profit and prestige (and success in the West translates into increased sales and stardom at home)....
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SOURCE: Mehta, Gita, and Wendy Smith. “Gita Mehta: Making India Accessible.” Publishers Weekly 244, no. 19 (12 May 1997): 53-4.
[In the following interview, Mehta discusses her writing career, her multinational living arrangements, and the inspirations behind Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India.]
Gita and Sonny Mehta's apartment is an oasis of tranquility in midtown Manhattan. Outside on a chilly March day, Park Avenue traffic is at its mid-afternoon worst, and the chatter of kids exiting from a school next door nearly drowns out the honking horns and screeching brakes. Inside, all distracting sounds seem to be absorbed by the crammed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, custom-built when the couple moved to New York from London in 1987 when Sonny replaced Robert Gottlieb as Knopf editor-in-chief.
In conversation, Gita Mehta is as voluble as her husband is (famously) taciturn. Formidably well-informed rather than ostentatiously intellectual, she'll jump in one breath from the right kind of water filter to get for a kitchen sink to the currently trendy field of microeconomics. She has the practiced partygoer's ability to focus intently on whomever she's talking to, but she also seems genuinely warm, interested in anyone who crosses her path. She halts her easy flow of discourse only to answer the occasional phone call dealing with various odds and ends that need to be straightened...
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SOURCE: Gorra, Michael. “Character of a Nation.” Washington Post Book World (22 June 1997): 5.
[In the following review, Gorra evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India, noting that the book's weak structure “makes it neither a unified whole nor a collection of fully individual essays.”]
At a dinner party this spring I sat between two novelists from South Asia and listened to them talk about contemporary Indian politics. Was there any chance that the former prime minister, Narasimha Rao, might go to jail on corruption charges? How about the relation between the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party and the thugs of Bombay's Shiv Sena? Did the Congress Party really think it could bring down the government? The conversation was racily full of India's lifeblood of gossip, and I found to my surprise that I could follow it all. But then I had just finished reading Gita Mehta's Snakes and Ladders.
Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of India's independence from Britain, Snakes and Ladders takes its title from a board game in which a roll of the dice determines “how many squares a player may move.” Landing at the foot of a ladder lets you climb it. “sometimes moving thirty squares in a single throw.” But landing on a snake means you have to slide back down “while your gleeful opponents [streak]...
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SOURCE: Mukherjee, Bharati. Review of Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India, by Gita Mehta. Times Literary Supplement, no. 4923 (8 August 1997): 12.
[In the following review, Mukherjee praises Mehta's insight into Indian social, cultural, and political viewpoints in Snake and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India, drawing particular focus to the nostalgia of Mehta's more personal essays.]
At the time of the Raj, it was fashionable for British and American writers as diverse as Maud Diver, Rudyard Kipling, E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Beverly Nichols, John Masters and Katherine Mayo to present the Eastern and the Western thought-processes as opposed. These writers' pronouncements, such as “never the twain shall meet” and “not yet”, may have come as a relief to their readers. The enlightenment highway has been designed for a one-way traffic in ideas: from the rational West to the child-like, intuitive East. Even in the 1960s and 70s, when the West's affluent young discovered Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, Buddhism, Hinduism and the I Ching, the traffic remained one way, only this time speeding from the East to the West. The Nirvana-poachers' invasion of industrializing India and the resultant “mythological osmosis” was the subject of Gita Mehta's first work of non-fiction, Karma Cola. Now after eighteen years, the novel Raj and a collection of short stories,...
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SOURCE: Schneller, Beverly. “‘Visible and Visitable’: The Role of History in Gita Mehta's Raj and Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance.” Journal of Narrative Theory 31, no. 2 (summer 2001): 233-54.
[In the following essay, Schneller argues that Raj and Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance both use historical fact as a tool to further their plots and themes, commenting that the “deliberate and deliberative uses of history employed by Mistry and Mehta reveal these works as unique, problematic, and complex.”]
The title of this essay derives from Henry James' comments in his preface to The Aspern Papers about the qualities of the novel. He liked to read about a past that was both “visible and visitable,” i.e., a past which was alive, relevant, and the creation of its author. Recent post-modern discussion of historiography has also taken a similar approach to the nature of historical narrative and the kinds of meaning historical writing produces. Hayden White, the leader in this debate, argues that there is little difference between historical narrative and the type of prose narrative associated with fictions. As is now well-known, he posits that the historian's point of view towards the material used in historical writing is equivalent to the fiction writer's point of view when creating a plot for a novel. Whether or not White is right in his analysis is beyond the...
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Chandavarkar, Rajnarayan. “India for the English.” London Review of Books 12, no. 5 (8 March 1990): 10-11.
Chandavarkar offers a mixed assessment of Raj, asserting that the novel occasionally becomes “ponderous and plodding.”
Prose, Francine. “The Sacred and the Profane.” Washington Post Book World (30 May 1993): 6.
Prose praises Mehta's evocation of the Indian landscape in A River Sutra but argues that the novel often lapses into “portentous philosophizing.”
Tharoor, Shashi. “A Passage to Exotic India.” Far Eastern Economic Review 145, no. 36 (7 September 1989): 82-3.
Tharoor expresses disappointment with Raj, concluding that the work lacks depth, character, and imagination.
Winchester, Simon. “Homespun in India.” Far Eastern Economic Review 156, no. 46 (18 November 1993): 42.
Winchester stresses the similarities between Mehta's A River Sutra and R. K. Narayan's The Grandmother's Tale.
Additional coverage of Mehta's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Literature of Developing Nations for Students, Vol. 2; and Literature Resource Center.
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