This anthology of writings on food brings together a wide range of literary and non-literary texts from South Asia. It draws on writing in English from the subcontinent, as well as the diaspora. It includes extracts from works by V. S. Naipaul, Romesh Gunesekera, Salman Rushdie, Sara Suleri, Kamila Shamsie, Githa Hariharan, and Kiran Desai, among others, alongside translations from regional Indian languages. The volume covers a broad range of areas: scholarly, narrative, philosophical, literary, anthropological, and cultural.
Striking a balance between 'food writing' and 'food cultural studies', the anthology offers something of interest for everyone. The persuasive and acutely argued Introduction blends erudition and readability. The well conceived sections see food as a trope fork among other things, colonial semantics; caste oppression; female sexual subversion; the anticolonial hunger strike; and the somatic realities of famine.
The recent interest in literary representation of food dwells on the idea that not only is eating the most basic of human activities, but also a major marker of social, cultural, and psychic identity. Food is an integral way in which individuals perceive themselves, and are perceived by others, resulting in stereotyping, as well as providing a means of self-determination.
The volume's most important contribution lies in bringing the specificities of South Asian food cultures to bear upon the global field of food cultural studies. It will appeal to all those interested in South Asian culture, gender, literature, anthropology, as well as general readers.
John Thieme teaches at the University of East Anglia. His recent publications include The Aronold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English (1996), Postcolonial Con-Text: Writing back to the Canon (2001) and Post-Colonial Studies: The Essential Glossary (2003). He has been Editor of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature since 1992
Ira Raja is Lecturer in the Department of English, University of Delhi. She is Associate Editor of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature.
'He put sown two hundred dollars on the brass plate and, before he rose, whispered to Ganesh, "Remember you promise, sahib. Eat, boy; eat, son; eat, sahib; eat pundit sahib. I bet you, eat."
his stomach growled and he took the fruit into his hands. He was cross and grumpy. The guava was cool and green and calm-looking
Guavas are tasty and refreshing and should be eaten whenever possible. He stared at the fruit, wished he could absorb all its coolness, all its quiet and stillness into him.'
'All of a sudden he felt a wave of love come over him. Poovan Bananas. It was the first thing Jameela had asked of him. God in heaven, what things other women would have demanded of their husbands. Gold, silk, bangles, cars, aeroplanes.'
'She was pretty, no doubt. Fine features, a butter-white complexion and small, dainty hands and feet. But she had let herself go and her body slackened like dough left out overnight.'
'Jhethu was never satisfied unless the fruit was bought from New Market. Baskets full of fruit on Christmas. Huge oranges, red apples, clusters of grapes. And that man had to die with his last wish unfulfilled. Instead of big grapes, he had small sour ones.'
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