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Goan literature

Goan literature is the literature pertaining to the state of Goa in India.

Goan Literature

Goa has a population of around 1.4 million and an area of 3,700 sq. kilometres (1,430 sq. miles). For a small region, it has a significant amount of publication activity, possibly in part because its people write in a number of languages—perhaps as many as 13—and also because of the large expatriate and diaspora population of Goans settled across the globe.

Among its most noted writers are Laxmanrao Sardessai (1904-1986) and R. V. Pandit (1917-1990), both of whom wrote poetry and prose in Marathi, Konkani, and Portuguese; Shenoi Goembab (1877–1946), whose Konkani writing helped to establish Konkani as a modern literary language; Ravindra Kelekar (1925-2010), who wrote some of the twentieth century's foremost Konkani literature; and Pundalik Naik (1952-), whose 1977 novel Acchev was the first Konkani novel to be translated into English.


Books from Goa.

Goa was the first place in Asia to have a printing press, which was brought by the Jesuits in 1556.[1] Nearly all of Goan literature before that time is known to have been destroyed by the Portuguese during the imposition of Inquisition. Goa's Portuguese colonial rulers can hardly be credited with meticulous record-keeping of Goan literature. Thus, Goa has had a long love affair with the written and printed word, although growth has been slow, and punctuated by problems like linguistic breaks and censorship.

Peter Nazareth points out that Goans have written in thirteen languages, of which the chief are Konkani, Marathi, English and Portuguese. Nazareth describes Goans as 'cultural brokers':

Goans mediate between cultures, Goans live between different cultures, Goans are travellers from one part of the world to another. This, in my opinion, happened when East and West met in Goans under pressure with the Portuguese conquest. Since that time, our usefulness to the world, wherever we are, is that we can understand different cultures and help people from different cultures understand one another. The disadvantage is that if we don't work on it, we may end up not knowing who we are.

Literary writing in Goa began to take shape under Portuguese rule and influence, associated with Portugal's mid-nineteenth-century Regeneration, which saw the reintroduction of the press to Goa, along with expanded Portuguese education. A spate of Portuguese-language publications, 'such as A Biblioteca de Goa (1839), O Enciclopédico (1841-1842), O Compilador (1843-1847), O Gabinete Literário das Fontainhas (1846-1848), A revista Ilustrativa (1857-1866) and O Arquivo Portugués Oriental (1857-1866)', along with Júlio Gonçalves's Ilustraçao Goana (1864-1866), while often short-lived, provided new fora not only for the circulation of European literature (whether originally in Portuguese or in translation), but provided growing opportunities for Goans to publish literary and scholarly writing.[2]

The first novel published by a Goan was Os Brahamanes (The Brahmans) by Francisco Luis Gomes, published in 1866.[3]

Later in the nineteenth century, vernacular writing began to emerge in strength, for example in Konkani, the widely spoken local vernacular. The Goan writer Shenoi Goembab (1877–1946) was foundational to developing modern Konkani literature.[4] An official language of the region since 1987,[5] Konkani is now studied in schools. Konkani literature emerged alongside the rapid growth of Marathi literature, in which the Goan R. V. Pandit was a notable exponent. S. M. Tadkodkar, who was conferred Ph.D. degree by Goa University for his exhaustive research work on Anant Kaakaba Priolkar, contends that while the Kannadd language of Karnataka province was dominating the Goan culture, Marathi language and culture was embraced by Goans. Now, Marathi has embraced the Goans and would not leave them, willingly. Maximum literature is published in Marathi. There are 8 Marathi dailies published from Goa. Prominent among them are Dianik Gomantak, Tarun Bharat, Lokamat, Navaprabha, Pudhari, Goadoot, Sanatan Prabhat. The Marathi daily Lokmat has the highest circulation (50000+) among all dailies.

In the late nineteenth century, extensive contacts with and migration to British-ruled India also encouraged English-language Goan writing, with early exponents including Joseph Furtado. Edward D'Lima, who has done his PhD on the Goan writer Armando Menezes, argues that Goan writing in English goes back to the late nineteenth century, when Goans were migrating out of this Portuguese-controlled colony in favour of jobs in the growing English-speaking British-ruled colonial world. English is probably the most influential literary language in Goa: 'a surge of creativity has erupted in Goan literature in English since 2000 in fiction and nonfiction, drama and poetry'.[6]

Goan writers

Besides English, Konkani and Marathi, Goans, particularly those of the past generation, have contributed significantly to writings in Portuguese.

Name Dates Principal language(s) Principal forms Notes
Ben Antao 1935- English fiction and non-fiction
Walfrido Antão 1950s-1980s Portuguese short stories
Carmo Azavedo Portuguese Noted for From the Tip of the Pen (Ao Bico da Pena).
Alexandre Moniz Barbosa English
Silviano C. Barbosa English prose fiction Their Canadian/Goan romance novel The Sixth Night takes you from a typically legendary life in Portuguese Goa in the 1950s all the way to Toronto, Canada.
Adeodato Barreto 1905-37 Portuguese poetry
Floriano Barreto
Uday Bhembré Konkani short stories, plays
Alfredo Bragança Portuguese poetry
Luís de Menezes Bragança 1878-1938 Portuguese journalism
Mário da Silva Coelho Portuguese poetry
José da Silva Coelho 1889-1944 Portuguese short stories Goa's most prolific Portuguese-language fiction-writer.
Alvaro da Costa Portuguese journalism
Suneeta Peres Da Costa 1976- English fiction An Australian-born Goan diasporic writer, noted for her novel Homework.
Amadeo Prazeres da Costa Portuguese journalism
Francisco João "GIP" da Costa 1859-1900 Portuguese short stories
Orlando Costa 1929-2006 Portuguese poetry and novels
Maria Aurora Couto English prose fiction and criticism
Joao da Veiga Coutinho 1918-2015 English Noted for A Kind of Absence: Life in the Shadows of History.
Nandita da Cunha English prose fiction
Ananta Rau Sar Dessai 1910 Portuguese, Marathi poetry and radio theatre Goa's pre-eminent Portuguese writer in the mid-twentieth century.
Vimala Devi (pseudonym of Teresa de Almeida) 1932- Portuguese, Catalan, Esperanto Pre-eminent literary critic of Lusophone Goan writing and a leading diasporic writer.
Paulino Dias 1874–1919
Sonia Faleiro 1977- English
Agostinho Fernandes 1932-2015 Portuguese novels Author of a key post-independence novel, Bodki (1962).
Joseph Furtado 1872-1947 English, Portuguese poetry
Philip Furtado
Shenoi Goembab 1877–1946 Konkani prose fiction, translations
Antonio (J. Anthony) Gomes English prose fiction and poetry New York-based writer of poetry: Visions from Grymes Hill and a much acclaimed novel, The Sting of Peppercorns, published by Goa 1556, Mirrored Reflection (a collection of poems) published by Goa 1556 & Fundacao Oriente, 2013.
Francisco Luis Gomes 1829–1869 Portuguese The first Goan novelist.
Olivinho Gomes 1943-2009 Konkani, Portuguese, English poetry, translations and criticism
Júlio Gonçalves 1846-1896 Portuguese short stories
Mariano Gracias
Ravindra Kelekar 1925-2010 Konkani prose fiction
Amita Kanekar 1965- English novels
Lino Leitao 1930-2008 English short stories based in North America
Fanchu Loyola 1891-1973 Portuguese journalism One of Goa's leading independence activists.
Lambert Mascarenhas 1914- English
Margaret Mascarenhas English literary fiction, poetry, essay
Telo Mascarenhas 1899-1979 Portuguese journalism, poetry, prose fiction
Damodar Mauzo 1944- Konkani fiction
Nascimento Mendonça 1884–1927 Portuguese Through the Mythical Ayodya.
Armando Menezes 1902-1983
Dom Moraes 1938- English poetry, belles-lettres
Pundalik Naik 1952- Konkani novels and plays Wrote the first Konkani novel to be translated into English.
Peter Nazareth 1940- English fiction A Goan diasporic writer from Uganda, noted for the novel The General is Up along with literary criticism.
Alberto de Noronha 1920-2006 Portuguese translations, criticism
Carmo Noronha Portuguese Works include Contracorrente (Panjim, Goa: 1991) and Escalvando na Belga (Panjim. Goa: 1993).
Frederick Noronha 1963 English journalism
Leslie de Noronha English prose fiction and poetry
Epitácio Pais 1928-2009 Portuguese short stories
R. V. Pandit 1917-1990 Marathi, Konkani, Portuguese poetry Most celebrated for his vast poetic production in Konkani.
Prakash S. Pariekar Portuguese
Vasco Pinho 1942-
Floriano Pinto Portuguese poetry
Jerry Pinto 1966- English poetry
Victor Rangel Ribeiro 1925- English prose fiction
Leopoldo da Rocha Portuguese Author of Casa Grande e Outras Recordações de um velho Goês (Lisbon: Vega, 2008).
Maria Elsa da Rocha 1924-2007 Portuguese short stories, poetry
Alberto de Meneses Rodrigues 1904-1971 Portuguese prose fiction
Augusto do Rosário Rodrigues 1910-?1999 Portuguese short stories. poetry
Abhay Sardesai poetry, translation
Manohar Sardesai Portuguese poetry
Laxmanrao Sardessai 1904-1986 Marathi, Konkani, Portuguese poetry Considered one of Goa's finest Marathi writers.
Melanie Silgardo 1956- poetry
Frank Simoes 1937–2002 English advertising and journalism
Carmo D'Souza English prose fiction Author of Angela's Goan Identity, Portugal In Search of Identity and other books. In a recent lecture, D'Souza himself traced the indigenous imagery, and the impact of Portuguese on Goan writing.
Eunice De Souza 1940- English poetry and fiction Mumbai-based.
S. M. Tadkodkar
Savia Viegas fiction
Jessica Faleiro 1976- English fiction, poetry, essays An Adult Third Culture Kid of Goan origin, noted for her novel ‘Afterlife: Ghost stories from Goa.’ She has also published non-fiction, short stories and poetry in print and online with Asia Literary Review, Forbes, Mascara Literary Review, Joao Roque Literary Review, IndiaCurrents, Kitaab, Muse India and Indian Quarterly, among others.
Selma Carvalho English fiction and non-fiction

Resources for and about Goan writers

Central Library, Panjim (Panaji), Goa, India
  • The Goa Archives[7]
  • Fundação Oriente, Panjim-based Portuguese cultural body, which has helped some writers with small grants of a few thousand rupees.[8]
  • Goa University Library: It has a large collections in the languages of Konkani, Marathi, English, Portuguese, French. It has old manuscripts, microfilms and prints of the 17th century in Goa.[9]
  • Goa State Central Library, which is run by the Government of Goa, is the oldest library in South Asia. It has been one of the largest depositories of printed volumes pertaining to Goan languages and literature since the seventeenth century.

Goa Arts and Literary Festival

Goa Arts and Literary Festival (GALF) is a non- profit festival organised by volunteers. The first edition of GALF was held in 2010. The three-day fest had debates, lectures and discussions on art, music, photography, drawing a large audience from across the world at the International Centre of Goa, Dona Paula.[10]


  • COSTA, Aleixo Manuel da. Dicionário de literatura goesa. Instituto Cultural de Macau, Fundação Oriente, 3 v., 1997.
  • DEVI, Vimala, & SEABRA, Manuel de. A literatura indo-portuguesa. Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, 2 v., 1971.
  • NAZARETH, Peter (ed.). "Goan Literature: A Modern Reader", Journal of South Asian Literature Winter-Spring 1983.


  1. ^ A.K. Priolkar, The Printing Press in India: Its Beginnings and Early Development being a quatercentenary commemoration study of the advent of printing in India in 1556, (Bombay: Marathi Samshodhana Mandala, 1958).
  2. ^ Paul Melo e Castro. Lengthening Shadows. 2 vols. Saligão, India: Goa, 1556, 2016. I pp. 9-10 (quoting p. 9).
  3. ^ Ben Antao, 'Goan Literature in English', Muse India, 64 (November–December 2015), "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  4. ^ Kiran Budkuley, 'Modern Konkani Classics', Muse India, 64 (November–December 2015), "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  5. ^ Goanet Reader: Puzzle wrapped in an enigma, understanding Konkani in Goa, [][permanent dead link].
  6. ^ Ben Antao, 'Goan Literature in English', Muse India, 64 (November–December 2015), "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  7. ^ "Directorate of Archives and Archaeology". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  8. ^ "India - DELEGATIONS ABROAD - Fundação Oriente". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Goa University Library catalog". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Be ready to get inspired at Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014". The Times Of India. TNN. 28 September 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2016.

^ "Goan Literature: A Modern Reader", Journal of South Asian Literature Winter-Spring 1983

^ Translated in Manohar Shetty's Ferry Crossing

See also

External links