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Kamla Markandaya is one of the eminent Indian-English novelists of the modern age. She has been known for her close observation to traditional, cultural, historical, emotional, psychological, and behavioral changes in human beings. The novel, The Coffer Dams, deals with the theme of traditional vs modern values in the modern age. It finds the idea that there can be a way of cooperation between the technology of the Europe and labour strength of India. The new area of cooperation between them is related to the building of the coffer dams across a turbulent river somewhere in the hills of Maland in South India. The dam-construction requires a good deal of planning and technical skill. To complete the construction work in time, the entire project is handed over to the Clinton-Mackendrick Company, a British Company whose chief engineers are Howard Clinton and Mackendrick, by the Government of India. Though the engineers are British, their assistants and workers are Indians. The people of two countries come together in this novel for the techno-economic development of India, for its scientific expansion and modernization. Here in this novel, the nucleus of focus is on the relationship and behaviour of Clinton, his wife Helen, and Bashiam (an Indian tribal working with Clinton-Mackendrick Company).
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Markandaya, Kamala. The Coffer Dams. Penguin Book, 2008.
Rao, A.V. Krishna, "Kamala Markandaya and the Novel of Sensibility." The Indo-Anglian Novel and The Changing Tradition: A Study of the Novels of M.R. Anand, Kamala Markandaya, R.K. Narayana and Raja Rao, 1930-65. Rao and Raghavan, 1972. pp. 50-67.