"I am walking in my city" The Production of Locality in Githa Hariharan’s In Times of Siege, Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay, and Amit Chaudhuri’s Freedom Song
Abstract: At the center of this study are three Indian novels with an urban setting and dealing with political and social issues of the 1990s: Githa Hariharan’s In Times of Siege (2003), Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay (1997) and Amit Chaudhuri’s Freedom Song (1998). The Delhi of In Times of Siege is portrayed as a city infused with power but haunted by a troubled past that is brought to the present by a dissenting professor of history. The Bombay of Love and Longing in Bombay is also a haunted city, but is primarily imagined as a narrative locality in which storytelling is central to both the narrative and the city. The Calcutta of Freedom Song is explored through a resident family, blurring the distinctions between the home and the city. The three novels all negotiate an increasingly sectarian environment.The three cities of the novels are explored through the framework of anthropologist Arjun Appadurai’s concept of the production of locality, which sees place as a value and a dimension of social life. By approaching the cities in the novels through locality, it is possible to discern how the authors construct place as meaningful. This study thus extends the anthropological concept of locality into literature, addressing the specific strategies through which the authors portray and create their respective cities. Key concepts explored in the novels include agency, haunting, storytelling, and memory.
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