Thursday, January 11, 2007

Looking for a Quick Read?

Are you interested in the IWE (Indian Writings in English for the uninitiated) equivalent of a fast food takeaway? Novels that are easy to read and digest?

These are novels that stand out (and sell briskly) because they are positioned as being not "literary." Chetan Bhagat's, two works, Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center are the kind of books that we are talking about here — books that are very readable but which trumpet loudly and clearly that they are not "great literature."

These books and their authors, clearly target the mass market through a combination of cheap pricing, by virtue of fictionalizing experiences and world-views in common with the readers, and by being essentially simplistic and "accessible" in their writing.

Jai Arjun Singh posts an in depth story about these "non-literary" writers and this growing genre of writing in IWE and points out that the spurt in such novels could be an indication of "increasing democratisation of Indian publishing." Do read.

My thoughts on this trend? Hmm. . . . I think if a book is good enough to read it will have a mass appeal and will sell. What sells might not be of the highest literary merit but nonetheless it does have its niche readership. I don't know if I can risk making this generalization, but by my reckoning people who are much into reading bestsellers in crime, espionage, and other books of such ilk are the ones who will largely pick up these Indian bestsellers. Such readers now have another option to choose from. People who prefer more "literary" works will largely continue to prefer the fare they are used to, and might occasionally snack on some "fast food." One can only hope that like the Harry Potter books did, this new genre of IWE will attract more people to books and reading. And maybe every once in a while, a reader who prefers fast food would be adventurous enough to try some better fare.

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