This essay examines the rise of Chetan Bhagat, an icon of the New India “after English” who ironically writes his best-selling popular fictions in English. When Bhagat’s demotic English travels outside India, it is taken up by readers and critics whose responses to his work reveal the persistence of the fantasy of accessing India’s unmediated voice. The essay reads the extant Anglo-American critical discourse on Bhagat, with special attention to the postcritical and post-postcolonial turns in contemporary literary scholarship. It argues that Bhagat’s anointment as a global Anglophone literary icon with purchase on the “real” India lays bare a problem endemic to English literary studies—namely, the problem of enacting comparative literary analysis within English itself. It also raises a number of questions at the intersections of world literature and the global Anglophone, which are rival strategies for the teaching of non-Western literatures in English in US academe. In its concluding sections, the essay considers whether it is possible to teach Bhagat’s “English like Hindi” without allowing it to masquerade as a conduit to a supposedly authentic Indian vernacular sphere.

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