Northeast India: a new literary region for IWE

It’s a young literature – this body of English writings from the eight states of India’s Northeast. Often evaluated in comparison with the rich tradition of Assamese literature (from the largest state in the region and going back several centuries) and overshadowed by the growing dominance of a ‘mainstream India-centred’ Indian writing in English, it began to emerge into the literary-critical scene at the turn of the 20th century, without a splash and with extreme modesty. A few texts here and there – like Arup Dutta’s children’s classic The Kaziranga Trail (1979) – seemed almost accidental, until we suddenly realised its presence in our midst. From one or two books on the shelf of The Modern Book Depot in Guwahati, to a row, to a wall, and now to a whole new extension – Easterine Kire, Temsula Ao, Mitra Phukan, Dhruva Hazarika, Mamang Dai, and the poets Robin Ngangom, Desmond Kharmawphlang, Kynpham Singh Nongkynrih, Esther Syiem, and Mona Zote are now not just popular reading, but have become subject of serious research. And Siddharth Deb, Anjum Hasan, Janice Pariat, and Kaushik Barua, a new generation with quicksilver imagination, supple language, rooted and contemporary, have made sure that this is a literature that is here to stay.