Fiction was the last to appear in the Indian English literary scene. Early attempts of fictional writing manifest itself but they are tales rather than novels. With the turn of the century writers with serious content and elegant style began to leave their stamp on the literary spectrum. Among the early writers of certain merit are Ramesh Dutt and Sarath Kumar Ghosh and T.R. Pillai. But fiction as a genre in Indian English writing achieved a graceful height in the trio of Mulk Raj Anand, R.K. Narayan, and Raja Rao. Mulk Raj Anand is a typical amalgam of the east and the west. He appreciates the finer aspects of the Indian part and her civilization. On the other hand, shows dislike for the seamy side of her tradition. With fervent socialist faith, he envisions a modern egalitarian society, ‘Untouchable’, ‘Coolie’, ‘Two leaves and a bud’, ‘The Village’, ‘The Big Heart’, and ‘Confessions of a lover’ have a vast range and a variety of character. There is stock realism strong humanitarian compassion in his novels. In contrast to him, R.K. Narayan blends irony and sympathy, quiet realism and fantasy in his novels. The trilogy of ‘The Financial Expert’, ‘The Guide’ and ‘The Man-eater of Malgudi’ depicts his serious moral concern. Narayan’s fiction creates a credible universe with a tolerates sense of incongruity in human life. R.K. Narayan rejoices in painting the world as he finds it with its vices and virtues. Unlike both, Raja Rao gave little importance to the social dimension in his ‘Kanthapura’, ‘The Serpent and the Rope’, ‘The Cat and Shakespeare, and ‘Comrade Kirillov’. But he provides variety and strikes with the finest portrayal of East-West confrontation.
The fifties evidenced the overwhelming presence of Bhabani Bhattacharya, Manohar Malgonkar and Khushwant Singh. Bhabani Bhattacharya was a social realist and his first novel ‘So Many Hungers’ is set against the background of ‘Quit India Movement’. His novels especially ‘He who Rides a tiger’ creates enduring fiction. Art, for him, is an interpretation of life and a vehicle of truth and for this purpose, it can please and teach us other works of Bhabani Bhattacharya include ‘Music of Mohini’ and ‘Shadow from Ladakh’. But for Manohar Malgonkar art professes the purpose of pure entertainment. He is a realist and a painter of a male-dominated world. ‘The Princes’ is his best novel and a great true attempt to rise above the self-imposed restriction. Except, ‘Distant Dream‘, his novelist career produced ‘Combat of Shadows’, ‘A Bend in the Ganges’ and ‘The Devil’s Wind’ with the theme of partition appeared K. Singh’s ‘Train to Pakistan’. ‘I shall not hear the Nightingale’ presents an ironic picture of a Sikh joint family. His obsession with sex is crystal-clear in his novels. Arun Joshi and Chaman Nahal have contributed in a significant way to the rise of Fiction in Indian English.
Two women novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Kamala Markandaya weave a knotty problem for the historian of Indian English. While Jhabvala is an outsider, Kamala Markandaya is an expatriate. Nonetheless, her ‘Nectar in a Sieve’ breathes the Indian air and speaks the native languages. At the same time, it shows the influence of industrialization on the Indian rural scene. ‘A Silence of Desire’ and ‘The Coffer Dams’ are her serious attempts for artistic gains. ‘The Golden Honeycomb’ chronicles the life of three-generation. It is her first historical novel. While politics gave a literary framework to Nayantara Sahgal, Anita Desai is interested in the interior landscape of mind than in political and social realities. Her novels deal with the terror of facing, the ferocious assaults of existence. Her characters are a person ‘For whom aloneness alone‘ is ‘the sole natural condition‘. Maya in ‘Cry, the Peacock’ is haunted by death. ‘Where shall we go this Summer’ and ‘Fire on the Mountain’ develop on the identical theme. With growing interest in Indian English Literature, there came a spurt of fiction and as a result of the literary canvas was hailed with a variety of novels. Notable among them are B.K. Karanjia’s, ‘More of an Indian’, Gokak’s Narahari and Shiv K. Kumar’s ‘The Bone’s Prayer’. Only the last year Vikram Seth created a wave in the international literary scene with his fiction ‘A Suitable boy’ steeped in the Indian ethos, the novel presents the life in its totality.