Despite the wide availability of "regional novels" in India, academic scholarship in this area has been surprisingly lacking. For environmental literary scholars, this is unfortunate because regional narratives compellingly capture the conflicts between local social dynamics and global capitalist cultures, resulting in an aesthetic that is ecologically sensitive and stylistically complex. In this essay, I will first situate the Gandhian call for ruralism as an important reason behind the rise of regional narratives in late-colonial India. Then, drawing from Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee's eco-materialism and recent scholarship in "peripheral realism," I will show how the noted Bengali novelist Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay in his classic Hansuli Banker Upakatha (1947/51; The Tale of Hansuli Turn) historicizes the tragic fate of the Kahar tribe in the face of colonial-capitalist developments in the rural interiors of Bengal. Closely engaging with the complex narrative structure of the novel, especially his pitting of a social realist narrative of "tradition versus modernity" against an experimental style "upakatha" or tale, I will argue that Tarashankar's literary peripherality is socio-ecologically aware and self-consciously political, representative of world-literary aesthetics.
- postcolonial and world literatures
- regional novel
- Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay
- peripheral realism