Reviews


The Postsecular Imagination: Postcolonialism, Religion, and Literature
New York: Routledge, 2013; pbk. 2014
by Manav Ratti


“Provocative and arresting, this is a work of subtle imagination and searching intellect. It is finely written, scrupulously researched and persuasively argued—very much of its times. I look forward to what Manav Ratti next has to say.”
Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English, Oxford University 


“one of three important monographs that signal a postsecular turn in postcolonial theory and criticism”
Graham Huggan, Professor of English, University of LeedsModern Fiction Studies
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“Most recent writings on the crisis of secularism have tried to fix the flaws in the dominant idea of secularism and come out with a modified version that would withstand the test of real-life politics today. Manav Ratti, not convinced that a retooled version of secularism by itself will be our saviour, has chosen to do the groundwork for those forced to enter the postsecular world. This book is a major contribution that just cannot be ignored.”
Ashis Nandy, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi


The Postsecular Imagination by Manav Ratti is an important book and it has come to us at a time of great need. It is clear, concise, and full of insights that will help us navigate a world all too often polarized by cynicism and half-truths. His presentation to a full house of inquisitive minds was one of the highlights of the past number of years and we cannot say enough about Manav Ratti's charm and poise in front of an audience. The Postsecular Imagination deserves a huge audience."
Neil Wilson, Founding Director, Ottawa International Writers Festival 
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“The originality of Ratti's book resides in dealing with literary works as temporal products in which secular tenets have an impact on belief systems, while still recognizing the relevance of the latter. It shares much in common with Saba Mahmood's Politics of Piety (2005), Achilles Mbembe's On the Postcolony (2001), and Talal Asad's Formations of the Secular (2003). Recommended.”
— Choice
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“one of the most wide-ranging studies of postsecularism with particular attention to the field of literature”
Anthony Paul SmithReading the Abrahamic Faiths


“Dr. Manav Ratti’s assessment of the postsecular imagination as reflected in some well-known literary works of recent decades is a highly readable book, a denouement of conflicts between conduct out of faith on one hand and claims of pragmatism and evolved rationalism on the other. Steering clear of both downright rejection or enthusiastic assertion of ideas and events under focus, the work exemplifies a calm objective approach to issues. The content apart, the style is irresistible, a welcome academic exercise in recent times.”
Manoj Das, author of The Submerged Valley and Other Stories


“Written evocatively, this book is an interdisciplinary work useful to those interested in literary criticism, postcolonialism, and socio-political theory. The Postsecular Imagination is a scholarly attempt to resuscitate enchantment in this world. Given the unforgiving rationalism of the modern secular state, and the violence of organized religion, Manav Ratti deems the binary of religion versus secularism as having practically failed and as being conceptually inadequate. The book then is a search for an imagination beyond these binaries.  [. . .]  Within the spectrum of postsecular discourse, the author takes a balanced, centrist position.  [. . .]  This book deserves to be closely read, in text and in spirit.”
The Hindu
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“A nuanced analysis of how literature is capable of generating new ways of interpreting the limits of religion and secularism  [. . .] . Ratti’s book is a success and important reading for those interested in secularism, religion, postsecularism and postcolonial theory. The text is well-written, carefully argued and full of insights into the rewards found in pursuing such unstable ideas like postsecularism, and the ability of literature to explore such new horizons.  [. . .]  [the] illustration of [the] indeterminacy and creativity associated with [postsecularism] is one of the many strengths of the book.”
— Postcolonial Studies
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“A major addition to contemporary scholarship on postsecularism, this is a significant book for those interested in the study of issues related to religion and secularism.”
— Wasafiri
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“Raises the stakes of both scholarly and literary interventions [. . .] . Theoretically nimble and insightful [. . .] a nuanced, vibrant and stylistically elegant scholarship of possibility: one that is further informed by the author's rigorous knowledge of the geopolitical realities and physical locations (in India, Europe, Sri Lanka and further afield) that he has experienced and visited [. . .] . Ratti’s work stands out in the field as an indispensable way forward.”
— Postcolonial Text
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“Timely—auspicious even.  [. . .]  Well-researched and theoretically sophisticated work contributes to debates regarding secularism by providing a critical vocabulary mediating between the secular and the religious.  [. . .]  Major intervention  [. . .]  Ratti’s compelling book promises to provoke further scholarship that takes up in a similar vein.  [. . .]  Provocative and suggestive in its demand to go beyond conventional dichotomous formulations.  [. . .]  Sensitive and nuanced readings  [. . .]  Ratti renews the theoretical bases of postcolonial literary studies, putting it in conversation with South Asian Studies.”
— South Asian Review
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“Daring, fine and nuanced, Manav Ratti’s book is probably the first monograph of its kind to raise important questions that probe the potentials and limits of both religious and secular thought in India.  [. . .]  One of the fortes of this impressive and scrupulously researched book is its interdisciplinarity, and the way that Ratti moves between the lenses of social and cultural criticism, political theory and literary criticism, to flesh out how it is in literature that the work of the postsecular is actually taking shape.  [. . .]  One of the greatest achievements of the book is perhaps the way in which it raises uncomfortable questions about the significance of certain values that we do not question (such as the desirability of secularism, or the enchantment of religion), and forces us to rethink and rework those values.”
— Journal of Postcolonial Writing
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“By bringing [literary] texts into dialogue with the recent theoretical work on postsecularism, Ratti is able to produce insightful readings that not only challenge rigid religious, racial, and national categories that dominate our modern world but also provides hope that we can imagine an array of identities and practices that can circumvent them.”
— Peace Review
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“Manav Ratti presents a study that, far from exclusively aiming at literary criticism, tackles one of the most virulent problems of cultural policy head on: the increasingly embattled relation of secularism and religion, in some parts of the world complicated by a nationalist agenda.  [. . .]  The interpretations Ratti offers are illuminating and sensitive  [. . .]  The reader will feel tempted to discover the books they have not yet read themselves, a positive effect rarely produced by academic literary criticism.  [. . .]  Ideological partisanship and one-sidedness [are] gratifyingly absent from the whole book. Also, the book shows a full command of state-of-the-art literary and cultural theory.”
— Entangled Religions
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“Ratti’s literary analyses not only support his contention but also prove a deep understanding of the space from where the authors write. The Postsecular Imagination directs our attention yet again towards the need of a new theoretical tool that can represent the realities of a world fraught with conflicts resulting from the collision of extreme religious or secular archetypes. Although the book refers to the South-Asian setting this study should be considered by scholars interested in other (literary) spaces as well.”
— Synergy
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