September 26 , 2009


Gay Writing from South Asia


An exploration of gay identity in South Asia. From Ashok Row Kavi's autobiographical piece on growing up gay in Bombay to Vikram Seth's brilliantly etched account of a homosexual relationship in The Golden Gate, the stories, poems, plays and prose extracts in this collection cover a range of literary styles, themes and sensibilities. Mahesh Dattani's play Night Queen is significant as one of the first serious attempts at dramatizing homosexuality on the Indian stage; the poems by R. Raj Rao included here are part of a series that formed the basis for the Bollywood film Bomgay; and the poetry of Dinyar Godrej, Adil Jussawalla and Sultan Padamsee is searing in its intensity. Apart from the pieces written originally in English, there are works translated from Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and other Indian languages, which speak of the agony and the joy of being a man in love with other men. Extracts from the work of well-known writers including Bhupen Khakkar, Kamleshwar and Vishnu Khandekar provide a rare insight into the lives of homosexual men in India s small towns and villages. An extract from Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy details an account of growing up gay in war-torn Sri Lanka, while K.C. Ajay, an illiterate taxi driver, gives us an alternate glimpse of love and friendship in Nepal. Pieces such as these along with the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali and Iftikhar Naseem expand the scope of this collection to include writers from South Asia. With wit, passion and courage, these writings bring to the fore the true meaning of yaraana or male friendship and bonding, an often ignored facet of South Asian life and sexuality.
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