Books: Elegy and Affirmation

Two writers whose roots are in the subcontinent but whose lucent visions transcend geography

Amid all the brouhaha surrounding the explosion of writing in English from the Indian subcontinent--the million-dollar advances won by Vikram Seth and Salman Rushdie, the 36 languages into which Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things has been translated--it's easy to feel that the all-purpose label of "Anglo-Indian" writing covers a multitude of sins and that too many serious craftsmen are being massed under the Orientalist tent. Abraham Verghese's vision, full of the earnest self-inquiry of a foreigner taking America to his heart, might seem as alien to Romesh Gunesekera as Gunesekera's wrenching, elegiac tales, fragrant with the sea air of...

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