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.’