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The well-known Indian writer, Arun Joshi’s second novel The Strange Case of Billy Biswas has come under severe critical censure for what has been seen as a very romantic representation of the tribals and their indigenous lifestyle. These critics are of the opinion that the novel fails to adequately explain the relationship between a tribal woman and a non-tribal man and also fails to describe the active resistance among the Indian tribes. The book has also been called out for allegedly suggesting that the problems of the tribals can only be solved by the intervention of a powerful but sympathetic alien outsider. This article intends to show that these criticisms are not very valid as they stem from a decontextualized reading of the novel.  This article proposes to show that by locating the context of the text in the wake of the research undertaken by a real life ‘Billy Biswas’, Verrier Elwin it will become very clear that the way the Indigenous people and their lifestyle is portrayed is quite realistic and thus provides a new insight. Verrier Elwin was a British anthropologist who came to India as a Christian missionary but later dedicated his whole life to studying and living among the various Indian tribes. He is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of India’s tribal peoples and his ethnographic studies and popular books on tribal customs, myth, art and folklore are considered path breaking works in Indian anthropology and for creating an awareness of cultural diversity. His seminal works which include The Tribal World: An Autobiography and The Muria and their Ghotul provide a detailed first-hand account of the lifestyle and indigenous practices followed by the various tribes of Central India; the same setting where most of Arun Joshi’s novel The Strange Case of Billy Biswas is situated.

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