There's no dearth of new fiction writers, but what's missing is quality
There's a new breed of young, though relatively unknown writers, who are aiming to dislodge the Salman Rushdies and Jhumpa Lahiris from their pedestal. “The time is ripe to make our mark,” says Anjum Hasan, author of Lunatic In My Head. Her book was one of the finalists at the recent Crossword Book Awards. Though she did not win, the feedback she received was unexpected.
The past few months have seen an unprecedented number of books being launched by Indian writers in English. And while all may not achieve the same fame as Arundhati Roy did with her God Of Small Things, the trend is a positive one.
Today, publishing houses are churning out books by the dozen. But there is a catch: Some of these books would not have passed through editors a decade ago. So, have the basic rules of publishers changed?
"Of course it has. Over the last 10 years, publishing houses have opened shop here. An acute lack of good or even imaginative writing has not dampened their spirits in an attempt to tap the local market. They have to publish and promote run-of-the-mill work, which is in abundance" fumes Sunil Poolani, publisher at Frog Books.
So have publishing houses turned a blind eye to style and prose? Namita Devidyal (The Music Room) does not think so. "A well-written good story will always find acceptance," she says.
The majority of readers are no longer that judgmental. For instance, while critics trashed Chetan Bhagat's The Three Mistakes Of My Life, the masses loved it.
VK Karthika, publisher at Harper Collins, credits Chetan with the birth of a new of generation writers. "...People who speak and write English as their first language. They are reckless, brave and willing to experiment." Ultimately, it’s the reader who decides the 'saleability' of a book. Karthika says, "Readers are willing to try out new styles, and are not limited to literary pieces." With more competition, publishers believe that things can only better.