Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sweetness of Indian pulp

A few days after my first translation, The 65 Lakh Heist by Surender Mohan Pathak, was released, I walked into a large chain bookstore to see if it was stocked there. I found it in the 'Indian Fiction' bookshelf. Its two closest neighbours were an anthology of love stories edited by Ruskin Bond, and the newest book by Salman Rushdie.

I've been browsing through bookstores all my life, but it wasn't until then that it struck me just how unfair the categorisation was for all of the books displayed in the Indian Fiction category. The Ruskin Bond book should have been under Romance, or maybe under Anthologies. Rushdie's book should have been Literary Fiction. Many of the other books felt wrong, too — Tagore's and Premchand's translations should have been under Classics.

There should've been some sort of category created for Indian campus-lit and chick-lit by now, but those books sit next to historical thrillers and post-modern fiction on the same Indian Fiction bookshelf. The reader will, no doubt, point out that the volume of Indian books in all these genres is so low, that the books would be lost if mixed in with the other, non-Indian, books. And starting from that point, the reader — and several writers and reporters — have come to the conclusion that Indian writing is very limited and that readers here read much less than their counterparts in other countries. Although this makes for great copy, it's far from the truth.

Full report here DNA

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