The More Things Change…

It really is unbelievable that, in 2006, a book critic at a major newspaper should write the following sentence, and actually get it published:

There are certain books that are so similar to one another they almost beg to be grouped together. This is largely true of Indian novels. Look closely at the ones published in the past, say, 25 years, and you’ll see that they’re virtually identical, in theme if not in style and content. For me, Midnight’s Children is indivisible from A Fine Balance, which in turn cannot be separated from A Suitable Boy. Directly or indirectly, all three books – and there are other notable examples – are concerned with the same thing: the state of Indian society in the wake of independence and partition.

The critic is Stephen Thompson, writing for The Scotsman. As Ed points out, this isn’t Thompson’s first brush with stupid generalizations. Last month, he dismissed all post-colonial African literature as “clichéd” because it continues to deal with the effect of European occupation of the continent.