Middlebrow Magazines and Book Publishing in Post-Independence India
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
During the two difficult decades immediately following the 1947 Indian Independence, a new, commercially successful print culture emerged that articulated alternatives to dominant national narratives. Through what Aakriti Mandhwani defines as middlebrow magazines—like Delhi Press’s Saritā—and the first paperbacks in Hindi—Hind Pocket Books—North Indian middle classes cultivated new reading practices that allowed them to reimagine what it meant to be a citizen. Rather than focusing on individual sacrifices and contributions to national growth, this new print culture promoted personal pleasure and other narratives that enabled readers to carve roles outside of official prescriptions of nationalism, austerity, and religion.
Utilizing a wealth of previously unexamined print culture materials, as well as paying careful attention to the production of commercial publishing companies and the reception of ordinary reading practices—particularly those of women—Everyday Reading offers fresh perspectives into book history, South Asian literary studies, and South Asian gender studies.
“Everyday Reading is deeply archival, and Mandhwani skillfully negotiates both what the archive presents and what it does not, painstakingly accounting for both the general inclinations and desires of the readers even as she seeks to explain some of the contradictions that are part and parcel of any middle class. This project expands what terms like ‘literariness,’ ‘modernism,’ and ‘cosmopolitanism’ meant in the 1950s and 1960s.”—Sangeeta Ray, author of En-Gendering India: Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives
“Mandhwani has researched a largely overlooked archive of Hindi middlebrow magazines, popular books, and mail-order book series from the 1950s and 1960s to make a compelling argument about readerly practices.”—Ulka Anjaria, author of Reading India Now: Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture