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Literature from North East India

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Title: Literature from North East India  
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Subject: Northeast India, Siddhartha Deb, Indian English literature
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Literature from North East India

Literature from North East India (Assamese: উত্তৰ-পূৱ ভাৰতৰ সাহিত্য) refers to literature of Languages of North East India, and also the body of work by English-language writers from this region. North-East India is an under-represented region in many ways.[1] The troubled political climate, the beautiful landscape and the confluence of various ethnic groups perhaps have given rise to a body of writing that is completely different from Indian English Literature.[2] North-East India was a colonial construct and continues to be one by virtue of having a historically difficult relationship with the Indian nation state.[3]

Debates surrounding the term North East

However, there is no single definition of the phrase Literature from North East India as the diversity of this region defies easy definition. Broadly, this phrase refers mostly to English writing but may also include Assamese Literature and writings in the Bishnupriya Manipuri language, that have long traditions of writing and stand on their own with a glorious legacy.

Many writers such as Harekrishna Deka[4] and Temsula Ao have expressed discomfit with the term North-East India and North Eastern writers, respectively.[5] A section also strongly argue that the term is colonial and hence, an artificial construct. There is nothing called a "north-easterner" and the concept is purely geographical; it tends to homogenise an extremely heterogeneous cluster of people as there exists no common history and heritage of the people in North-East India[6] though formerly the current states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya used to be constituent states of former British Assam.

Recent interest in Literature from North East India

Since 2008, national magazines and journals have taken unprecedented amount of interest in writings from this region. Several national news magazines have featured special issues on writers from North East.[7][8] The profusion of literature from North East has also generated immense interest within and outside the nation.

Mitra Phukan, Dhruba Hazarika, Temsula Ao, Mamang Dai, Anjum Hasan, Siddhartha Deb, are some English-language writers from North East. Assamese writer Indira Goswami is the most famous literary figure to emerge from this region.

Critical Responses

The younger generation of English-language writers From North-East India include Jahnavi Barua,[9] Siddhartha Sarma,[10] Nitoo Das,[11] Aruni Kashyap[12] Manash Pratim Borah, Janice Pariat, Nabanita Kanungo, Mona Zote, Jahnavi Baruah, Ankush Saikia, Bijoya Sawian and Uddipana Goswami.[13]These writers express strong political awareness by addressing issues such as identity and ethnicity; they interrogate the violence that has ravaged their home state Assam due to the tussle between the secessionist militant group ULFA and the Indian government in complex ways.[14]

Discussing the work of the new generation of writers from North East, Preeti Gill says, "Many younger writers continue to grapple with these issues. Having grown up in the shadow of the gun, their desire to analyse the common people’s reaction to insurgency is as strong as ever. A case in point is young author Aruni Kashyap whose soon-to-be-published first novel, The House with a Thousand Novels seeks to understand why so many educated thinking young men took to the gun. (Interestingly, a number of these are now writing novels and memoirs, like Samudra Gogoi’s A Former ULFA Member’s Memoirs.)"[15]

Literary journal Pratilipi adumbrates the issues that concern writers from North East India in its special feature, "It is tragic that the long-running unrest, violence and terrorism in the North-East has remained a mere digression in the mainstream of the Indian nation-state – ironically, even in the mainstream arts that otherwise come across as very charged and political. The poems by Uddipana Goswami and six poets translated by Tarun Bhartiya, along with stories by Mitra Phukan, Srutimala Duara and Aruni Kashyap, serve as a reminder that the “North-East” is not a geographical, political unit, but a place of many languages and cultures.".[16]

List of writers from North-East India

See also

External links

  • by Preeti GillTehelkaSinging in the Dark Times, in
  • , by Anindita GhoseMint LoungeSongs of the Hills, in
  • Political Literature from India's North East, by Manjeet Barua
  • North-East India on Facebook
  • Arjun Choudhuri's Blog
  • ebooks of North-East India
  • Manash Pratim Borah's Blog


  1. ^ Strength and Public Presence of Women in Northeast India
  2. ^ ‘Political’ Literature of India’s North East Frontier, by Manjeet Barua
  3. ^ ‘Political’ Literature of India’s North East Frontier' by Manjeet Barua
  4. ^ India's North East : The Imperial Look
  5. ^ SentinelVoices from North East,
  6. ^ "Northeast" Identity: an Artificial Construct
  7. ^ , North East Writers special issueTehelkaSinging in the Dark Times,
  8. ^ PratilipiVoices from North-East,
  9. ^ Author Profile, Penguin India
  10. ^ Utpal Barpuraji
  11. ^ Poetry International
  12. ^ Pratilipi
  13. ^ Muse India
  14. ^ Tehelka‘Younger Writers Have A Pan-Indian Sensibility But Return To Their Roots’, Interview with Jahnavi Barua,
  15. ^ TehelkaSinging the Dark Times,
  16. ^ Voices From the North-East
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