David Landau: Fathers and Sons, Majority and Minority: Minor Literature in Hindi and Hebrew

This essay explores the repercussions of national minorityhood in fiction by comparing Hindi and Hebrew literature written by authors belonging to minorities. It examines how literature produced by the internal “other” challenges and even undermines ideas of national language and national literature. Deploying the conceptual framework of “Minor Literature” as formulated by Deleuze and Guattari, the essay exposes how the fragile position of the authors, at the margins of society, gives them a unique perspective regarding the limitations of national discourse. This essay specifically focuses on the way that father-son relationships are articulated and claims that these relations are a manifestation of the troubled relationship between a minority and the “majority”. The Hindi and Hebrew comparison helps expose how, across different settings and historical developments, the structure of the relationship between the state and minorities seeps into all aspects of life of the minority characters.

Furthermore, this essay explores the literary reactions to the ongoing processes of minoritization, showing that the inscription of minority leads to a continual dance between inclusion and exclusion. In democratic nation states, the protection of minorities is a fundamental part of the liberal character of the state. In short, this essay traces fictional representations of the continual struggle between inclusive measures and the “othering” of minorities which is often the main tool of nationalist forces used to corral power.

David Landau completed his BA in South Asian Studies and English Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He studied Hindi and Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London for an MA degree. After completing his MA he spent two years in Delhi studying Hindi and Urdu. David submitted his PhD titled, “Writing from the Margins: Muslim Authors in Hindi and ‘Minor Literature’” in 2018 at SOAS. His main research interests are the intersections between literature, language and nationalism and he focuses on North Indian literature in Hindi, Urdu and English. Moreover, David also works on comparing aspects of Hebrew and Hindi literature. His current project focuses on Minor Literature written by national minorities in India and Israel, specifically novels and short stories of Indian Muslims writing in Hindi and Palestinian Israelis writing in Hebrew.


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