Sunday, March 23, 2008

Goan English Fiction Writers

Goan English Fiction Writers
By Cecil Pinto

Last month I decided to do a little research on Goan
Fiction writers (in English only - no translations)
who are featured somewhere on the Internet.
An excellent place to start is at The menu reads like
a Who's Who of contemporary Goan writers.
Unfortunately most of the writers featured are
'unclickable' as the site is still in the
construction stage. Also most of the writings archived
are essays or viewpoints of an 'activist' nature,
rather than the pure fiction I was searching for. I
also stumbled on an interesting archive of short
stories and 'time pass' writings at

After many hours of searching and browsing I have
narrowed down to these few writers

Lino Leitao (born 1930) grew up and did his education
in Goa before moving to Canada. His stories have been
published both here ('Xemai' was serialised by Goa
Today) and abroad, and his recent novel 'The Gift of
the Holy Cross' was well received. Leitao's writings
are characterised by his strong Goan roots and
upbringing. An interview with Frederick Noronha is
archived at

Ben Antao (born 1935) grew up in Goa and this is
evident in his writings. Antao has been a journalist
in Bombay and Goa before migrating to Canada in
1967, where till recently he taught and was also a
financial planning consultant. Antao's self published
book 'Images of Goa' is not easily available, but he
is currently wrapping up another novel which will soon
be published. A decent selection of Antao's writings
are archived at

Victor Rangel-Ribeiro (born 1925), currently living in
New York, shot to fame when he received the Milkweed
Prize for fiction for his first novel 'Tivolem', set
in Portuguese Goa. Rangel-Ribeiro, in his varied
career, has been the literary editor of The
Illustrated Weekly and music director of
the Beethoven Society, New York. Last year
Rangel-Ribeiro conducted a Creative Fiction Writing
workshop in Goa on behalf of The Navhind Times at the
International Centre, Dona Paula. Lengthy extracts
from 'Tivolem' are available at

Margaret Mascarenhas (born 1960) is a consulting
editor, columnist and novelist, and the author of the
best-selling novel 'Skin'. Of Goan origin,
Mascarenhas grew up in Venezuela, went to college in
the US and currently divides her time between Goa and
California. Till recently she used to write an well
read newspaper column 'Wake up and smell the coffee'.
Mascarenhas is the only Goan writer I have come
across, who has a comprehensive website with her
biography and samples of her writing at Mascarenhas is currently
working on her second novel 'Passion Fruit'.

Heta Pandit (born 1954) is well known in Goa for her
work as a heritage conservationist. Her book 'Houses
of Goa' brought her to the attention of the
international media as a writer. Pandit's recent book
'Dust and other short stories from Goa' has proven her
forte as a splendid fiction writer
too. An entire short story from 'Dust' is archived at

Peter Nazareth (born 1940) is of Goan origin and
European, African and American domicile. Currently
Nazareth is Professor in African American World
Studies and the Department of English at the
University of Iowa, USA.
In addition to a vast anthology of work - primarily
revolving around the African peoples' socio-economics
and politics, Nazareth teaches a popular course 'Elvis
as Anthology' which has been given a lot of media
An excellent biography of Nazareth can be found at


Lambert Mascarenhas (born 1914) strides the world of
Goan fiction writers like a colossus. Founder editor
of The Navhind Times, founder editor of Goa Today,
author of the best selling 'Sorrowing Lies My Land'
(in its fourth reprint) and 'In the Womb of Saudade'
(a collection of short stories). Mascarenhas continues
his excellent writing in the local Goan press on
issues that effect us all. Mascarenhas resides in Dona
Paula. An excellent essay by Mascarenhas 'The Enigma
that is Goa' is available at


Of course there are other greats like Mario Cabral e
Sa, Eunice D'Souza, Carmo D'Souza, Remigio Bothelo,
Leslie de Noronha, Danny Travasso... but I do have a
limited space for this column.

All in all it has been a learning experience
researching all these great writers but, except for
Margaret Mascarenhas, none of them have thought to
have websites of their own where interested
researchers can pick up bios, extracts etc. I have
culled the information above from scattered websites
and sometimes even by e-mailing the concerned writer
and asking for more information.

Another relevant aspect which comes to the fore is
that there seems to be an absolute dearth of English
Fiction Writers in Goa whereas the vernacular
abounds with works of fiction - short stories, novels,
plays etc. Perhaps the current generation of Goan
writers will throw up some fresh talent to fill up
this lacuna in fiction writing.

----------- end of column ------------

My new column WEBQUEST starts in the November 2002
issue of Goa Today which is already out on the stands.
Each month I intend researching and reporting
(in my WebQuest column) on Goa related people and
issues on the Internet.
Suggestions and feedback will be much appreciated.

Grateful thanks to Gaspar Almeida, Ben Antao,
Alexander Barbosa and Vinayak Naik for assistance in
research for this particular article above.

Please forward this to any Goan you think might be
interested. And buy a printed copy of Goa Today if
you want to see pictures too.

Cecil Pinto Tue Nov 12, 2002 12:32 am
Everything Goan!

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