A recent article on the Brevity Blog captured my attention. It talks about India’s Lack of a Literary Culture and Community.
I know quite a few editors and readers of Indian literary journals who might disagree with the contents of the post. But I had a lot of thoughts upon reading it.
To begin with, English is, at best, a second or maybe even a third language for the readers of the low-priced books that sell like hot cakes. There are very few of us for whom it’s a first language. I do think in English and write only in English, but for most of the population, that is not the case nor is it necessary. As a commenter on that post pointed out, we have a rich tradition of literature in the numerous Indian languages available to us. Even my parents who read English books finally find solace in books by Bengali authors.
Regarding the literary journals, we do have good ones in India. I have been published in only two, but fellow writer friends have been published in many others and have had positive experiences. Also, this is one of those things that might be easy to criticize from the outside but tougher to implement. It if true that the few literary journals that do exist don’t pay, but I am not sure of the solution to that. I’ve always thought of starting one but could never work out how I’d monetize it without putting in my own money.
About the amazing literary novels coming out of India, the ‘magic of visual imagery painted by Roy’ is indeed rich, but I wasn’t as moved by God of Small Things as much as the general populace, though I guess this is an unpopular opinion.
I actually don’t mind the ‘simple, basic novels about banal things’ which the writer talks about in the post. For all the griping about Chetan Bhagat, I credit him with starting a trend of Indian writing in English that features urban hip characters that I could identify with.
In fact, it spurs me to share links of the excellent stories I read in Indian literary journals on a regular basis, and also the superb books by Indian authors coming out.
In the meanwhile, do share links to any good books or stories you might have read recently!
I must admit I’m pretty ignorant on any other country’s literary scene, so it’s great to read about it firsthand from someone who knows all about it. Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks Stuart for commenting. Yes it’s not often we get a peek into the literary communities of various countries. Glad it shed some light!