Postmodern traces and recent Hindi novels

by Veronica Ghirardi (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy)

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This fascinating book by Veronica Ghirardi is the result of a very original and innovative research on Hindi literature. For this book, Veronica Ghirardi has used as sources an impressive amount of contemporary Hindi novels, which are not renowned for their readability and which remain untranslated for most of them. The question of postmodernism, at the very heart of this book, is a sensitive topic, often misunderstood: either it is overused and turns out to be, in the end, nothing more than a hollow concept, or it is criticized and rejected on the grounds that it does not apply to the South Asian context and only represents a new form of intellectual colonialism. In this case, however, Veronica Ghirardi succeeds perfectly in avoiding both of these pitfalls. She demonstrates the usefulness of exploring this concept, or more precisely its traces, in a literary and cultural context that is still largely unknown to Western readers and even scholars. What is more, she does so in a very clear and convincing manner. This is undoubtedly a seminal book in the field of Indian literary studies.

Dr Nicola Pozza
Faculty of Arts, South Asian Studies
University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Ms. Ghirardi’s work on post-modernism in contemporary hindi literature is the outcome of a thorough research fueled by the author’s genuine interest in and passion for the subject under investigation, which developed in the course of her research for her PhD thesis.
[…] the author’s quality of scholarship becomes evident in the wide range of works analyzed for the purpose of making her point. The many quotations from the original hindi texts not only betray her sound knowledge of the hindi language but bear witness of Ms. Ghirardi’s capacity to ‘read’ the Indian mind structure and decode it while inserting it into a western academic discourse.
[…] For those interested in and already familiar with Indian literature, it provides an stimulating and in many ways original way of looking at a kind of literature which too often remains at the margins of attention of the larger public. The merit of the way the book is organized is to address non only the specialized academic scholar familiar with Indian literary traditions, but the contextualization of the topic that attempts to insert the hindi novel first into the wider context of Indian literature in general and then, even more ambitiously, into world literature in an increasingly globalized society.

Dr Thomas Dahnhardt
Department of Asian and Mediterranean African Studies
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Postmodernism is a notoriously elusive concept and still the object of critical debates among scholars across a range of different disciplines. In literature, in particular, these debates are complicated by “postmodern” styles emanating from outside the concept’s Western origins. By analyzing contemporary Hindi novels, and drawing on both Western and Hindi literary criticism, Postmodern traces and recent Hindi novels aims to understand some of the manifestations of postmodernism in contemporary Hindi fiction, including ways the latter might challenge the traditional parameters of postmodern literature.
This book is essential reading for scholars and students specializing in South Asian studies and both postcolonial and comparative literature. It will also interest the general reader curious to know more about one of the less explored areas of world literature.


Notes on Hindi terms and transliteration

Chapter 1: Introduction: aim, sources and methodology
1.1 Origins and aim of the project
1.2. On Postmodernism and Hindi critics
1.3. Choosing temporal coordinates
1.4. Criteria to select authors and texts
1.5. Structure of the book

Chapter 2: Postmodernity and postmodernism: the Indian perspective
2.1. An introduction to postmodernism
2.1.1. From the Western origins…
2.1.2. …to the Indian context
2.2. Uttar-ādhuniktā: postmodernism and Hindi literary critique
2.2.1. The earliest contributions of the new millennium
2.2.2. Sudhish Pachauri
2.2.4. Following ’s path: Suresh Patel and Sanjay Chauhan
2.3. Some preliminary reflections

Chapter 3: Postmodernism and Hindi novels: introducing authors and texts
3.1. Virendra Jain - Ḍūb (1991)
3.2. Prabha Khetan - Chinnamastā (1993)
3.3. Jay Prakash Kardam - Chappar (1994)
3.4. Manohar Shyam Joshi - Ṭ-ṭā profesar (1995)
3.5. Manzoor Ahtesham - Dāstān-e-lāptā (1995)
3.6. Mridula Garg - Kaṭhgulāb (1996)
3.7. Vinod Kumar Shukla - Dīvār meṁ ek khiṛkī rahtī thī (1997)
3.8. Geetanjali Shree - Hamārā śahar us baras (1998)
3.9. Alka Saraogi - Kali-kathā: vāyā bāipās (1998)
3.10. Uday Prakash - Pīlī chatrīvālī laṛkī (2001)

Chapter 4: Postmodern traces within Hindi novels
4.1. Ontological plurality or instability: projected worlds
4.1.1. Otherworldiness and heterotopias
4.1.2. Metafiction
4.1.3. Historiographic metafiction
4.2. Ontological plurality and the text’s structure
4.2.1. Duplication: multi-layered texts and intertextual games
4.2.2. Multiplication and fragmentation
4.3. Lightness: how to challenge the realist tradition
4.4. Literature against traditional totalizing powers
4.4.1. Women’s writing: subverting conventional gender roles
4.4.2. Stories of marginalization: Dalit and non-Dalit accounts

Chapter 5: Conclusions
5.1. Postmodernism and Hindi novels: from critique to creative works
5.2. Alternative readings and possible further developments

Appendix: A basic postmodern glossary

Relevant authors and critics
Relevant Hindi literary works
Relevant terms and concepts


Veronica Ghirardi is a research fellow at the University of Turin. She completed her PhD cum laude in Humanities (curriculum Indology) in 2018, at the University of Turin, with a dissertation entitled "Postmodern Traces and Recent Hindi Novels". Her research interests lie in contemporary Hindi prose and its relation to European literatures. She has presented her findings at international conferences and in journals such as Annali di Ca’ Foscari (Serie orientale) and Kervan: International Journal of Afro-Asiatic Studies.

Postmodernism, uttar-?dhunikt?, uttar-?dhunikt?v?d, contemporary Hindi prose, otherworldliness, heterotopias, metafiction, historiographic metafiction, intertextuality, post-realism