Performance and Performativity in Contemporary Indian Fiction in English


This book starts with a consideration of a 1997 issue of the New Yorker that celebrated fifty years of Indian independence, and goes on to explore the development of a pattern of performance and performativity in contemporary Indian fiction in English (Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Chandra). Such fiction, which constructs identity through performative acts, is built around a nomadic understanding of the self and implies an evolution of narrative language towards performativity whereby the text itself becomes nomadic. A comparison with theatrical performance (Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and Girish Karnad’s ‘theatre of roots’) serves to support the argument that in both theatre and fiction the concepts of performance and performativity transform classical Indian mythic poetics. In the mythic symbiosis of performance and storytelling in Indian tradition within a cyclical pattern of estrangement from and return to the motherland and/or its traditions, myth becomes a liberating space of consciousness, where rigid categories and boundaries are transcended.

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Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Bucharest, Romania. She has published articles in Romanian and international journals and books such as: Women’s Voices in Post-Communist Eastern Europe (2 vols., co-edited; Bucharest: University of Bucharest Press, 2005 and 2006); Identity Performance in Contemporary Non-WASP American Fiction (Bucharest: University of Bucharest Press, 2008); Postcolonialism/Postcommunism: Intersections and Overlaps (co-edited; Bucharest: The University of Bucharest Press, 2011); Between History and Personal Narrative: East European Women’s Stories of Migration in the New Millennium (co-edited; Berlin and Vienna: LIT Verlag, 2012).

Introduction: Metamorphoses of the Self on the Border between ‘East’ and ‘West’

Chapter ONE. Writing in English: A Performative Act in Contemporary Indian Fiction
Chapter TWO. Changes and Challenges in the Novel Form: From Myth to Performance to Nomadic Textuality
Chapter THREE. Intercultural Epic in Performance: Peter Brook and Girish Karnad
Chapter FOUR. Reperformed Traditions: Indian Theatre and Its Contemporary Avatars
Chapter FIVE. Repositioning Scheherazade: From Storytelling to Performance in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children
Chapter SIX. Storying the Fatwa: From The Satanic Verses to Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Chapter SEVEN. Migrant Identity Performance Politics in Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
Chapter EIGHT. Writing the Unspoken: Exclusion and Arundhati Roy’s Écriture Féminine in The God of Small Things
Chapter NINE. Performances of Marginality in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
Chapter TEN. Postmodern Scheherazades between Storytelling and the Novel Form: Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain
Chapter ELEVEN. Performance, Performativity and Nomadism in Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain

Students and scholars of postcolonialism, contemporary Indian fiction in English and performance studies, but also scholars more generally interested in literatures in English, narrative and the novel form, intercultural theatre, narrative and its interactions with performance, contemporary reinterpretations of Hindu myth, women’s literature (the Arundhati Roy chapters).
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