Bombay Modern

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Publication Date
May 2016
Page Count
320 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Bombay Modern

Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture
Anjali Nerlekar

Anjali Nerlekar's Bombay Modern is a close reading of Arun Kolatkar's canonical poetic works that relocates the genre of poetry to the center of both Indian literary modernist studies and postcolonial Indian studies. Nerlekar shows how a bilingual, materialist reading of Kolatkar's texts uncovers a uniquely resistant sense of the "local" that defies the monolinguistic cultural pressures of the post-1960 years and straddles the boundaries of English and Marathi writing.
Bombay Modern uncovers an alternative and provincial modernism through poetry, a genre that is marginal to postcolonial studies, and through bilingual scholarship across English and Marathi texts, a methodology that is currently peripheral at best to both modernist studies and postcolonial literary criticism in India. Eschewing any attempt to define an overarching or universal modernism, Bombay Modern delimits its sphere of study to "Bombay" and to the "post-1960" (the sathottari period) in an attempt to examine at close range the specific way in which this poetry redeployed the regional, the national, and the international to create a very tangible yet transient local.
About the Author

ANJALI NERLEKAR is an assistant professor of South Asian literatures at Rutgers University.

"Like any of the 'locals' in Mumbai, the teeming trains that barrel through the megapolis, Anjali Nerlekar’s Bombay Modern leads us into the heart of bilingual literary culture in the Maximum City, through an underground world of poems, manifestos, little magazines, dreams, visions, modernisms, and experiments inhabiting the interstices of both English and Marathi. Bombay Modern richly documents the lives, careers, ideas, and works of writers as diverse as Arun Kolatkar, Adil Jussawalla, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Dilip Chitre, Bhalchandra Nemade, R. K. Joshi, and Ashok Shahane, whose impact is far from local, and without whom the story of geomodernisms cannot now be conceived or told."—Vinay Dharwadker, Professor of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies and of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin–Madison

"Anjali Nerlekar's book is the first to offer a reading of Arun Kolatkar's work in the two languages he wrote in, English and Marathi. Using privately held archival material that is difficult to locate and impossible to access, she reads the work in the context of Bombay's overlapping literary cultures between 1955 and 1980, as they came to be shaped by little magazines and small presses, typographies and layouts, literary friendships and collaborations. Nerlekar not only fills a gap in our history but marks it with a well-constructed lighthouse. It will for a long time to come be guiding boats to the harbor called Bombay Poets, that of late has begun to look quite busy. " —Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, editor of Collected Poems in English by Arun Kolatkar

"Anjali Nerlekar’s book is an incisive contribution to South Asian and postcolonial literary studies. Analyzing the outstanding bilingual poetry of Arun Kolatkar, Bombay Modern brings lively and sophisticated attention to the interlingual exchanges in postcolonial poetry; to the material circumstances of its publication; to the local environments in which it is written; and to the texts and their social, bibliographic, and political contexts. Vigorously argued, deeply knowledgeable, sharply attentive." — Jahan Ramazani, author of Poetry and Its Others: News, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres