Passage to India (via Aspen)

June 24 2008, 3:32 PM

The cool, controlled India of E.M. Forester's famed novel A Passage to India is being shattered to bits this week in Aspen, as the city hosts the 32nd annual Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival. Running now through Thursday, the festival has brought together India's foremost writers (all write in English) and asked them to speak about what compels their writing.

In his opening speech, Salman Rushdie, acclaimed author of Midnight's Children, said India's heat, noise, and crowds fill his religious and political novels, and the six other India authors in attendance agreed. Their works, all of which pertain to the last 30 years of Indian literary tradition, reflect heat and crowds, while also engaging themes like immigration, family, and modern and orthodox India.

Manil Suri (copyright Jose Villarrubia)
Manil Suri © Jose Villarrubia

Throughout the week, these authors will continue to discuss essence of modern Indian literature, but if Aspen is too far for the workweek, here's the shortlist of who's at the festival and what you should be reading: Salman Rushdie What he writes: Controversial religious and political novels. Read: Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses Anita Rau Bad www.anitaraubadami.ca What she writes: Musical and colorful stories about Indian family life. Read: The Hero's Walk, Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni www.chitradivakaruni.com What she writes: Stories inspired by Indian folklore, immigration, and women's issues. Read: Queen of Dreams, Mistress of Spices David Davidar What he writes: Fiction questioning religion in modern India. Read: The Solitude of Emperors, The House of Blue Mangos Indu Sundaresan www.indusundaresan.com What she writes: Historical novels about India's recent and not-so-recent past. Read: The Splendor of Silence, The Twentieth Wife Manil Suri (pictured) www.manilsuri.com What he writes: Novels that confront traditional and modern India. Read: The Age of Shiva, The Death of Vishnu Shashi Tharoor www.shashitharoor.com What he writes: Non-fiction and fiction that puts India in modern context. Read: The Great Indian Novel, India: From Midnight to the Millennium