Since what was once known simply as “India” now consists of a number of political entities, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan, the larger area is generally referred to either as “South Asia” or as “the Indian subcontinent.” The writers who are classified as South Asian, however, may not have been born on the subcontinent or may have moved elsewhere. In a few cases, their connection to the continent is not by blood but through marriage to a South Asian.
Some very important South Asian writers spent their lives in the same area where they were born, Shashi Deshpande, Mrnala Pande, and R. K. Narayan, for example. However, when Partition and the violence that followed sent millions fleeing to safety, there were a number of writers among the refugees. For instance, Qurratulain Hyder left her longtime home in Lucknow, India, for Muslim Pakistan, where she lived for some years, eventually returning to India in order to escape Pakistan’s increasing repression of women. Hyder became one of Bombay’s most influential journalists, an authority on Urdu literature, and a prize-winning author, who in 1967 was awarded the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for her short-story collection in Urdu, Patjhar ki Awaz.