Contact Information

Rabb 239
office hours: on leave 2015-16

Ulka Anjaria

See Professor Anjaria's Faculty Guide page for more information.

Ulka Anjaria

Ulka Anjaria book

Realism in the 20th-century Indian Novel (2012) Anjaria

Associate Director of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University

Research Interests

South Asian literatures and film; postcolonial literature and theory; narrative theory; the global novel; interdisciplinary approaches; literary theory


ACLS/Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, 2014
Visiting Fellowship, Delhi University, 2014

Selected Publications


A History of the Indian Novel in English. Ed. Ulka Anjaria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Realism in the Twentieth-Century Indian Novel: Colonial Difference and Literary Form, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Articles for a General Readership

"English Vinglish." The Daily Star (Bangladesh), August 22, 2015.

"Indian Fiction: Why the English vs. Bhasha debate no longer makes sense."
 Scroll August 15, 2015.

"Amitav Ghosh and Aravind Adiga: Two ways to write English in India."
Scroll August 9, 2015.

"Reading Chetan Bhagat in Dhaka" Scroll July 25, 2015.

‘A True Lahori’: Mohsin Hamid and the Problem of Place in Pakistani Fiction.” Economic and Political Weekly 48.25, 2013.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles and Other Publications

"Realist Hieroglyphics: Aravind Adiga and the New Social Novel." Modern Fiction Studies 61.1(Spring 2015): 112-135.

“The Fractured Spaces of Entrepreneurialism in Post-Liberalization India” (co-authored with Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria). Enterprise Culture in Neoliberal India: Studies of Youth, Class, Work and Media. Ed. Nandini Gooptu. London: Routledge, 2013. 190-205.

“Slumdog Millionaire and Epistemologies of the City” (co-authored with Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria). The Slumdog Phenomenon: A Critical Anthology. Ed. Ajay Gehlawat. London: Anthem, 2013. 53-68.

"Introduction to the New Edition." Reprint of Nature and Grounds of Political Obligation in the Hindu State by J.J. Anjaria. New Delhi: Academic Foundation, 2012. 15-22.

“‘Relationships Which Have No Name:’ Family and Sexuality in 1970s Popular Film.” Journal of South Asian Popular Culture 12.1(2012): 23-35.

“‘Why Don’t You Speak?’: The narrative politics of silence in three South Asian novels.” Colonialism, Modernity and Literature: A view from India. Ed. Satya P. Mohanty. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011. 153-170.

"Staging Realism and the Ambivalence of Nationalism in the Colonial Novel." NOVEL: A Forum for Fiction. 44.2(2011): 186-207.

“A Literary Kartography: Urban space and the postcolonial novel.” South Asian Review 29.1(2008): 216-233.

Text, Genre, Society: Hindi youth films and postcolonial desire” (co-authored with Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria), in Journal of South Asian Popular Culture 6.2 (2008): 125-140.

"On Beauty and Being Postcolonial: Aesthetics and form in Zadie Smith." Zadie Smith: Critical essays. Ed., Tracey Lorraine Walters. New York: Peter Lang, 2008.

"Satire, Literary Realism, and the Indian State: Six Acres and a Third and Raag Darbari." Economic and Political Weekly 41.46(2006): 4795-4800. 

"Literature and the Limits of Law: Crime, guilt and agency in Premchand's Ghaban." Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts. New Delhi: Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, 2005. 437-43.

Current Projects

The Unfinished Bridge: Literary Realism and Futurity in India

Unfinished Bridge argues that since around 2000, there has been a dramatic rise in social realism in India, despite what many critics see as the irrelevance of the genre to today’s world. I address the question of why, in the context of economic liberalization and an increased consumer culture, do we see the reemergence of this seemingly outdated genre: a literature devoted to social concerns? I show how today’s social realism is in fact comprised of new forms – which foreground ambivalence and indeterminacy rather than certainty and closure – and new contents – positing the middle class as a social subject alongside the more traditional farmers, outcastes and workers. As such, it is more aesthetically experimental and politically ambiguous than its name suggests. My book will outline the contours of this new, experimental genre in Indian novels, short stories, popular films, television serials, documentaries, non-fiction books and journalism published in India between 2000 and 2010. I demonstrate the range and diversity of these texts, and their continuities with earlier progressive traditions in Indian literature, while also showing how revised understandings of class, citizenship, trope and time have compelled writers to seek out alternative ways of representing social concerns outside of the overdetermined aesthetics of twentieth-century socialism. Works studied include fictional and non-fictional writings by Aravind Adiga, Chetan Bhagat, Arundhati Roy, Manu Joseph and Vikas Swarup, and films such as Rang De BasantiLage Raho MunnabhaiNo One Killed JessicaA Wednesday, Kahaani, Viruddh and others. 

Selected Courses Taught

Bollywood (ENG 20a)
Filmi Fictions: From Page to Screen in India (ENG 22a)
Totalitarian Fictions (ENG 162a)  
Decolonizing Fictions (ENG 167a)