Coolie by Mulk Raj Anand - novel review



Mulk Raj Anand will be remembered as one of the best Indian novelists in the days to come. There must be very little doubt about it. However, we must also remember that Mulk Raj Anand was one of the beginners who started a trend of writing about the lower strata of society in India. He dedicated most of his, fiction as well as non-fiction, works to the people who were thus far very scantily represented in 'elite fiction'. So, we need to give credit to the author where it's due. Anand is a very important person for the students of English Literature and we will talk about one of his very best novels today.


We can talk about his novel Coolie. Almost every reader who has been into the study of English Literature has read this novel, either in the graduation or the post-graduation syllabus. Coolie symbolised the plights of people who belong nowhere - neither in the distant villages nor in the glimmering towns. In its time, Coolie was very well-received by the readers across the spectrum of society. The critics in the foreign land also appreciated the novel - maybe because they had their agendas of driving people in India wild by letting them know they have different sections and different sets of rules for different sections as well... 

In Coolie, the central character is an orphan named Munoo. He is a boy having tough luck and, throughout the novel, he keeps moving here and there in order to survive - the least a human being can do. He is dealt with harshness, coarse attitude and also violence at times. When he thinks he could do better, his luck runs out and he is left with bare skin again and again. And at the end, he is supposed to die - serving his Highness! 

Coolie is a novel which will be a perfect example of Dalit Literature in the times to come. When it has become a fashion to explore the works of literature with various angles and scrutinise them within various circumstances, Coolie certainly serves the purpose for the students of English Literature. It offers a very distinct protagonist who can be a perfect symbolical character. More than that, Coolie is also a very good example of a rustic lexicon. Anand has used, in abundance, the phrases of pure Punjabi and Hindi tongue but in a very confused terminology. 

So, not only for casual readers, Coolie is also a very important novel for the students of English Literature. It does not only entertain, but also offers a playground for various critical games to be played by the intellectuals and scholars and book critics. 

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