Shobhan Bantwal Fiction of India

Author Shobhan Bantwal has two books with stories of brides and mothers struggling against dreadful cultural opposition to women. Her next novel, The Forbidden Daughter, opens:

“Oh, Lord, I beg of you.

I fall at your feet time and again.

In my next incarnation, don’t give me a daughter;

Give me hell instead . . .”

3 thoughts on “Shobhan Bantwal Fiction of India”

  1. Phil: It’s interesting that you should mention this novelist. I just read this by Walker Percy in his Signposts In A Strange Land:

    “But–and I can hear the question despite my disavowals–what are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that one must be a believing Jew or Christian to write good novels? Certainly not–though one is tempted to make the case and indeed present the evidence that the Jewish novelist, secular or religious, has a certain advantage, what with his unique placement in a strictly linear time and history. By a ‘certain view of reality’ I am speaking of the linearity of history, the density of things and events, the mystery and uniqueness of persons, a view that seems natural to us but is in fact the heritage of Judeo-Christianity. Which is to say that I haven’t read any good Buddhist novels lately. It is to say also that B. F. Skinner, who believed that all of life is a matter of stimuli and responses, could not possibly write a good novel–though I believe in fact that he did try. It is to say that the novels of H. G. Wells could not possibly be otherwise than as bad as they are. And I have never read a Marxist novel without being overwhelmed by the thesis” (page 195).

    Sorry for the long quote, but I’m interested in your thoughts as one who reads novels more than most and certainly more than I…do certain worldviews produce better novels and novel writers than others?

  2. I read Skinner’s novel, Walden II(I think that was the title), when I was in college. I have almost no memory of it, except that it was about an imaginary perfect community built on behaviorist principles. And everybody drank their iced tea out of glasses suspended in some sort of string hanger. That’s the only idea in the book that left any impressison on me.

  3. Generally speaking, I believe writers with some worldviews will produce novels better than those of other worldviews. The problem with that statement is what exactly a better novel is, and the arguments won’t stop over that. But I do think that a Christian worldview, which of course I believe is a realistic view of life, will aid any writer in producing a better novel, poem, play, or artwork. Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Austen, and many others would not be the greats they are without the Christian influence on them, because that influence helped them understand the real world. Non-Christians will write great novels too, in part because of the Christianity in their worldview.

    So Walker says a Marxist can’t write a good novel from a Marxist view of life. I’d think that’s true, because no matter what drama and pathos the book might hold, if the characters are acting solely on economic principles, if powerful men are dismantling their cities because people are merely numbers to them, then they would ultimately ring false. Would Crime and Punishment be a great novel if Raskolnikov had murdered out of simple economic desperation? No, it would probably be a simple crime novel then.

    I think the most problematic stories we may think of when considering this question are those with conflicting ideas within them. The dominate worldview of the story may be a secular humanist one, or modern feminist, or Buddhist, but the characters don’t act that way throughout or they wrestle with real life problems and come to bad conclusions. Some stories like those may be truly great simply because the writer has a good handle on real life. Isn’t that what we call good or great in our stories, the accurate depiction of life as we know it?

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