But to come to the point I wanted to make here. I recently read a Mamoni Raisom (Indira) Goswami novel “The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker” in translation of course. I was very much impressed by the novel, and it lead me to read a couple of collections on contemporary asomiya literature brought out by Katha. The narrative is pretty much linear, the plots not very thick or philosophical, both the novel and the stories do not match the spectacular range and experimentation of the Latin Americans, but they do hold the reader’s attention, the stories are deeply humane and Indira Goswami’s novel impressive in its level of detail in re- creating the Assam of the fifties and sixties. Subsequently, I started reading The Sentinel and the Assam Tribune sites, and they come across as newspapers as they used to be in North India many years ago. They are still newspapers and not advertising sites ! And they carry a bit on the literature of the state. It is this that makes me feel, that probbaly it is no longer Bangla but the literature of the ‘lesser’ languages like Oriya and Asomiya that regional writing looks more promising.
I am not sure how Indian regional literature has fared in the last few years, my own forays into Punjabi literature have been few, but I havent carried very positive opinions about it. A friend, a writer in Hindi/Punjabi himself ridiculed me once for being more interested in Latin American writing than that in Punjabi. And my response was that if I can find any writing that equals Mario Vargas Llosa, I will have no qualms in switching over. I did once try to read some of the writers writing in Hindi, and very much liked Rahi Masoom Raza and Shrilal Shukla, and the satire of Harishankar Parsai, who died almost unnoticed few years back (and to whom I was introduced by Ishwar Dost). I feel Hindi as a language is very suited for satire, just as Urdu is, though Urdu is very suited for high flown flights into poetry as well- perhaps on account of it being a confluence of both Hindustani and Persian.