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On Ghosh's Origins

asomeshwar's picture

After leaving class on Thursday, one thing remained on my mind. Many people were criticizing the techinque Ghosh used in creating an Indian character who has no experience living in India or being tangled in Indian culture.

Ghosh is Bengali writer who not only grew up in India, but also researched Calcutta and West Bengal immensely. The biggest difference I've found in his writing and the writing of other non-Indian authors about India is that he's been able to research every aspect he wishes to include in his novels. Unlike his character Piya, he is able to communicate with Indians from various areas of society and can learn and develop his characters and stories from there. Kanai, although incredibly annoying at times, seems to be Ghosh's voice sometimes. Like Ghosh, he grew up in one area and then moved to another where he was taught the ways of the "West" and on returning to his hometown, found that things weren't actually as he had left them. In many ways, Ghosh seems to show that it's easier to be someone like Piya - oblivious to what the region once was - than to be Kanai, who had distinct recollections of how the villages were constructed and felt lost after finding things weren't the same. 

Through his writing, Ghosh is able to demonstrate his emotions and feelings without having it affect the entirety of the novel. Most other authors who write about India but don't originate from India tend to make-up things along the way. They romanticize and make exotic, the various facets to India, and the audience believes them at face value, putting faith in the fact that they would have done their research. Doing research about how people feel in certain situations and actually being the person that feels in the same situations are two incredibly different things, and Ghosh's connections to India allow him to be the voice of Kanai at times, without controlling him entirely.