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Kamala Markandaya Biography

(1923–2004), Nectar in a Sieve, Some Inner Fury, Possession, The Coffer Dams, Pleasure City

india rural expatriate indian

British novelist, born and educated in India. Her first novel, Nectar in a Sieve (1954), was variously described as a rural tragedy, a portrait of the clash between tradition and change in modern India, and a convincing depiction of a deprived woman's life. As both anglophone and expatriate, Markandaya was criticized for her bourgeois rendition of a peasant woman's sensibility and her inaccurate representation of rural traditions and mores. In novels such as Some Inner Fury (1955) and Possession (1963), she explored the relationship between the colonized Indians and their British masters using sexual encounters as a metaphor for cross-cultural interaction. In other novels, such as The Coffer Dams (1969) and Pleasure City (1982), she presents a comprehensive picture of Western technologists attempting to modernize India, usually in the service of their own selfish ends. The 1970s saw Markandaya at the height of her imaginative powers. The Nowhere Man (1972) is the account of an elderly Indian immigrant's savage annihilation. Two Sisters (1973) examines sexuality in an updated feminist idiom in rural South India. The Golden Honeycomb (1977) is arguably her most ambitious work: turning to the historical past, she circumvented the now mandatory criticism of her detached and distanced expatriate perspective. Ironically, Markandaya was best known in her native India as an expatriate novelist, and in her adopted Britain as an Indian writer and a pioneer of Indian women's writing.

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