Though Markandaya is often grouped with the three stalwarts, Mulk Raj Anand, RK Narayan and Raja Rao, she created, with her limpid style, a distinctive place for herself in modern Indo-British fiction. Perhaps the most enduring quality of her novels is her passionate portrayal of Indianness and a profound sympathy. Though she lived most of her life in London, she was never alienated from her Indian roots; though she shunned literary limelight, her humanity and vision was widely admired.
Her characters are all ordinary people. Intensely aware of the passage of time, they struggle, love, or move to another country, in search of happiness – like the protagonist in A Handful Of Rice, who reflects: “A hundred years from now, it doesn’t really matter. I have drunk from the chalice of happiness, but now it’s time to set it down and go.”