The South Asian Studies Council Colloquium Series presents a Book Panel Discussion:
Farthest Field’s author Raghu Karnad; Rohit De, Steven Wilkinson, and Ayesha Ramachandran.
Farthest Field, 2018, A brilliantly conceived nonfiction epic, a war narrated through the lives and deaths of a single-family.
Raghu Karnad’s book The Farthest Field (2015) narrates the lost epic of India’s involvement in the Second World War, in which the largest volunteer army in history fought for the British Empire even as Mahatma Gandhi laid the foundation for Indian independence. The Farthest Field carries us from Madras to Peshawar, from Egypt to Burma, unfolding the saga of a family amazed by their swiftly changing world and swept up in its violence. This panel of scholars, including Professors Ayesha Ramachandran and Steven Wilkinson, discusses the real-life history behind the book.
The photographs of three young men had stood in his grandmother’s house for as long as he could remember, beheld but never fully noticed. They had all fought in the Second World War, a fact that surprised him. Indians had never figured in his idea of the war, nor the war in his idea of India. One of them, Bobby, even looked a bit like him, but Raghu Karnad had not noticed until he was the same age as they were in their photo frames. Then he learned about the Parsi boy from the sleepy south Indian coast, so eager to follow his brothers-in-law into the colonial forces and onto the front line. Manek, dashing and confident, was a pilot with India’s fledgling air force; gentle Ganny became an army doctor in the arid North-West Frontier. Bobby’s pursuit would carry him as far as the deserts of Iraq and the green hell of the Burma battlefront.
Raghu Karnad was awarded the Windham Campbell Literature Prize 2019.