In India, because we have the largest population in the world after China, anything that catches flame will be a hit – Baahubali or Chetan Bhagat, Passion Pro or Redmi Note 4, Narendra Modi as a leader or Rahul Gandhi as a meme material… the list might go long and I don’t intend to focus on that list while I have a serious issue to discuss. The question that we need to ask ourselves is – what do we read these days? There are elite groups on Facebook and an atmosphere on social media platforms that always point to WEST. Need to read a thriller? This American author. Need to read the biography? This English author. Need to read crime? That Ukrainian author… so on… Well, there are many reasons that elite readers do not prefer Indian authors and there are many reasons for the contrary as well. However, in-between lie the reasons that we have to pick carefully – the reasons that Indian authors have limited themselves, mostly, to the youths and leisure readership.
The lack of seriousness in the overall attitude of the young authors is something that comes to my mind naturally when I think about the published fiction books in general. The novels by first-time authors, the ‘serial offenders,’ the devoted absurdist or even the renowned distorians, there are many categories of authors who have been at the centre of the happenings in Indian English literature. Some casually write about sexual stuff, some casually write about murders, some write about crimes and some even distort the reflection of reality coated with an idea called liberty to express something in literature. However, most of them, if not all, miss the part that’s called (or, at least, should be called) literary responsibility. It does not mean to write anything, pay the ever-hungry publishers and get it published. A piece of literature must offer something to keep with the reader even after the reading is complete – and this something must be there after everything else that an author can fuse with his or her work.
Murders, sex, revenge – this might sound sensational and even exciting for a while. However, what remains with you once you have finished reading? Nothing but a token that you have finished reading ‘abcd’ book. However, now remember the last time you read something which might be called a benchmark piece of literature – by Amitav Ghosh with all its uncertainties or maybe a work by Jhumpa Lahiri with all the sense of homelessness or even a piece by Ashwin Sanghi with all its fancies – you must remember that one certain thing, an idea or an aspect that remains with you and gets rekindled whenever you remember that book. And that’s what many young authors who have taken up to literary production lack. They need to understand the art of surviving literary dementia if they want to have an impression upon world literature.
The publishing industry in India has almost gone rogue with the rise in self-publishing models these days. They will be publishing anything because they get paid in advance and nothing can stop them; there is no regulation. The writings which are even below the average level of literary works are easily getting published and just because these works can excite the readers, young readers are indulged in reading these senseless books and publishers are making huge profits while critics are in no mood to even comment upon these piece of writings.
BY M Mahesh for Egoistic Readers