31 Jul 2013

The Shrinking Indian Book Genres...

Courtesy: thousandmilessite.in
Did you ever analyse the recent Indian Book Market? Did you observe that most of the books on your shelf have been penned by IIM alumni or other management professionals? Did you dissertate that most of the contents are written on Love/College Life, Sex or Marriage?

There was a time when Premchand was equally popular in Russian literature. Some even referred him as the Gorky of India. Woven with thought-provoking timeless dialogues, lead by Tagore, Indian Literature with authors like Mulk Raj Anand, RK Narayan, to Amrita Pritam, Khushwant Singh was widely popular across the globe. 
Nowadays, things have changed; when we talk about some of the best recent Indian Works we mostly talk about Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate or Suitable Boy, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies or Unaccustomed Earth, Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses or Midnight Children’s. But none of them could actually explore their writing in India. Leaving few, We don’t have many to count. India where Gang Rapes, Floods, Modi/Rahul rule over the Newsflash, authors are no more counted as newsmakers until they provide controversy. Here, it is also worth to note that Adiga’s The White Tiger wasn’t a hit in the Indian market until it was declared a (Man) Booker winner. The stigma, be it from the readers’ side or from authors/publishers’ need to cure. It might be perverse to many but as Susan Santog has said that Perversity is the muse of modern literature; I have tried to unmask the factors that made the global audience relinquish mass Indian novels.

Love Sex or Marriage
A good Indian novel read has become a blue moon for quite some time now.  Bestselling books too are following the same trends as formula Indian movies do – i.e. the majority is following a similar pattern – trying to engage readers through time-tested subject matters of Love/College Life, Sex or Marriage – contents that we don’t need to bone up on.
I look up to the bookshelves of  my friends. Most of them have common – Chetan Bhagat’s, Love is Vodka: A Shot Ain't Enough by Amit Shankar, Just married, Pls excuse by Yashodhara Lal, Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas, Mistakes Like Love And Sex by Madhuri Banerjee, The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral, Two Fates: The story of my Divorce By Judy Balan,Tejas: Love is Worship by Nishi Malhotra, Can Love Happen Twice?, Kya Dobara Ho Sakta Hai Pyaar by Ravinder Singh, If It's Not Forever. It's Not Love by Durjoy Datta, Nikita Singh ….and so on. Some other books that dare to delve beyond are Shiva trilogy by Amish, Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi, Bankster by Ravi….no pseudepigrapha, but they are few in numbers, and many of them remain unheard.

Losing International Appeal
Contrary to Indian Market, global pattern is healthier and original in content. Some of the authors those made in Forbes’ world’s top 100 popular celebrities are Erika Leonard James, James Patterson, Rachael Ray, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Suzane Collins. The beauty is that they have unique content appeal and truth is their books equally compete with Indian authors’ in Indian Market – simply shows that It is not readers but the lack of quality, story and right marketing of the content that enforce them to stick with few tested genres. This has limited the export market compared to the import done.

When bestsellers are Management Professionals….
Some of the current Indian bestselling authors such as Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Ravi Subramanian, Rashmi Bansal, Santosh Desai, Ashwin Sanghi, Yashodhara Lal or Manreet Sodhi are IIM alumni or Management professionals. While Chetan Bhagat has brilliantly mixed Love, life & sex, Amish Tripathi resurrected the Shiva’s life in a whole new way. Ravi Subramanian as John Gresham and Ashwin Sanghi as Dan Brown have tried to fill the gap.

Whilst the recent trends have uncovered the weakness of Indian writing, It equally signifies the need to work on ‘How to sell’ along with ‘What to sell’. During my conversations with authors, I tried to figure out the feasible solution, but I could not. Wallace Stevens once said, ‘As life grows more terrible, its literature grows more terrible.’ 

About the Author

S. Anupam

Author & Editor

karn@anupamtimes.com

23 comments:

  1. Right from the first sentence, you were echoing my thoughts. I have been very disappointed by recent Indian authors. With their management backgrounds, these authors are best at selling their work, which has no originality ... no literature element in their writings. However, I don't know whether the present social and political scenario are the reasons for such mediocrity. Its not like people don't want to get into deep thought provoking books, they do. Its like the 80's - 90's era of Hindi cinema where people were fed with crappy movies. And just as the movies are getting better, I am hoping the same for Indian Literature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the trend is changing for the past 2-3 yrs. and let's hope our authors would explore more from mythology, social, witchcraft sci-fi genres.

      Delete
    2. Hi Anupam,
      I don't know whether this is the right place to say this, but I am one of the authors whose book 'Dilli-Mumbai Love Story' is one of the books featured in the cover image :-) On the similar lines of what Harshita below stated, I would share with you my brief experience of 12 years of writing. Two of my novels, one written on a man in search of his girlfriend's eight year old niece after communal riots, and another criticizing Nietzschean's Ubermensch concept with the help of a novel within a novel still remain unpublished, despite me being a bestselling published author :-)
      The irony is that the 2nd novel actually went to the full MSS stage with Blair Partnership, the literary agents of J K Rowling, but it didn't cross even the 1st stage in our country :-)
      Anyway, I invite you to review my next work which is just out in the market, a series that mixes a ghost story with mystery, mythology, world history, philosophy, and a little science fiction too - the four main characters are a ghost who has lost her memory, an entrepreneur, a half-blind professor of molecular biophysics and the ghost of a Portuguese nobleman who came to India with Vasco Da Gama. The next book in the series will feature historical stalwarts like Amrapali, Lincoln, Anne Frank, Wittgenstein and the likes...
      Let me see if I can change your mind :-P

      Delete
    3. Sorry to respond you late, would love to do so :)

      Delete
  2. The books that are put for reviews by blogging groups are such a big disappointment. I have stopped signing for them.
    Great write up Anupam.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Anupam..
    thanks for visiting me and giving me the opportunity to land here..
    nice space you have :)

    I agree with you the quality of writing is going down. But, people are reading. Reading more than ever. Many students who have not read even a single literary piece in their lives have read all Chetan Bhagat books.

    I think with time the reader base in our country will mature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Point noted, Chetan Bhagat has attracted not only readers but writers too - making them believe that yes, it's a profitable profession. Once I read a masterpiece book 'Inhi Hathiyaron se' by Amarkant. He was so praised for the same, got Sahitya Akadmi, Jnanpith award for the same, but living in penury he soon had to sell all his awards. Think, somewhere as readers we must show maturity and justification with the content. We are yet to learn how easily we lost PremChand and still losing more....

      Delete
    2. I agree with you the quality of writing is going down. But, people are reading. Reading more than ever
      mobile repair hyderabad

      Delete
  4. Very well analysed! There are only a few gems, and you have to dig deep for them :O

    ReplyDelete
  5. You said it all. There is one book which is a best seller and I can't understand why. I tried reading it thrice and couldn't go beyond six pages. As you said, it's like Bollywood, who and what sells is the way. There are gems in between which glorify the art. And those are few and far between.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In book publishing, everything - writing a manuscript, editing, publishing to marketing has changed. Some of the good authors yet to adapt while some good management professionals have learnt it beautifully.

      Delete
  6. A very good post Anupam....... It is indeed very difficult to swallow the best sellers nowadays...... Often it is hard to believe that I am reading a bestseller..... Gone those childhood days.........


    You may also find Kenfolios interesting......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Debopam :) Shall go through...

      Delete
  7. The quality of writing is going down, that's one for one. But, people are reading, and that is the point. Like in that song for children, they should start in school to tell children how important reading is for them.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's more to do with selling rather writing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As a blogger, reader and reviewer I do agree to all the points but as an author, I would really love to seat my reasons. It isn't that we don't try to write on a different topic, the thing is the biggies don't care to consider us seriously and the smaller house do not wish to take a chance with a book that probably talks about something that might not sell.
    Another problem is distribution, there are some really nice and thought provoking books by young authors but they never reach bookstores. I once had a talk with the wheeler guy and he said, "Madam, jab kitaab Chetan Bhagat, Durjoy Datta aur Ravinder Singh ka bik rha hai to hum kyu koi aur book rakhe jo bike na bike. Sara baccha log ata hai aur yahi mangta hai."
    I just didn't know what to say. I'm an author and I proudly say I write romance, not because it sells but because it is what I like. However, that doesn't mean I don't like experimenting, my debut fiction was an urban romantic fiction but not a stereotyped college romance. My second book is also going to be a dark romantic fiction but my point is when we all can praise Nicholas Sparks who at times talks on the same lines in more than one story then why can't we admire and give a chance to the Indian writers instead of just bashing them?
    You said that it is more about selling and not about writing, don't we promote our blog then why not books? When a company brings out a new product, it doesn't highlight the negatives, it tells you about the benefits that can actually prove fruitful.

    And since you just talked about reading something different from young authors, please go through Nazaaqat by Harsh Agarwal and The Silent Howl of Demise by Jyotirmoy Mazumdar. They may not be available at all the stores but they are listed online.

    I really do hope that we can give you the best to our readers and I will personally try to work out on the points you just stated.

    Have a good day!

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Harshita, Glad to hear from you!

    Being associated closely with publishing I totally agree with your POV, but as a reader I do have the concerns that good content regardless of its genre must be praised, highlighted & promoted by readers community to keep the healthiness alive.

    You might have seen, many good books with a lot of research done, just fail to leave the impact - either readers' mind aren't open for it as majority don't want delve into deep just get entertained or mktng are not content specific. This is where my real concern is; both authors and readers will have to break the jinx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendation made, shall go thru both the books :)

      Delete
  11. Hi, Aravind Adiga never won Pulizer; he was awarded with the Man Booker and his book was a total cliche...there are a lot of good Indian authors coming up these days: You can read The Way Things Were, A Bad Character, She will Build Him a City. There is a reason why most of the people are not interested in serious literature these days; we have actually brought our standards down and so the Indian literature has become synonymous with romance stories, chick lit...but there are good authors coming up as well; Neel Mukherjee, Anuradha Roy...I can quote a lot of them for you, but yes they are not as popular as Chetan Bhagat...which is really sad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for writing in! Have corrected the mistake...

      Delete
  12. Hi Anupam, while searching for a good book blog I landed on your site. I don't know if you would believe me but same kind of thought is on my mind for few days! Indian readers cannot rise beyond Chetan Bhagat. Look at the booktube community, you can hardly find indian booktubers. there are in fact only two who are dedicated. Foreign countries have such a fantastic collection of sci-fi as well as fairy tale re-telling! I feel people are dedicating themselves to simply write Bollywood script; and of course speaking of Bollywood, I hope it rises above making re-makes.

    ReplyDelete

 
Anupamtimes © 2016