Prufrock's Page

Monday, June 06, 2005

Indian writing in the States

NDTV's Maya Mirchandani has a report on whether Indian writers have been able to break into the commercial mainstream in the United States.

She quotes Amitav Ghosh, whose The Hungry Tide is winning a small but respectful audience there: "I am by nature drawn to out-of-the-way stories. The market by definition is not interested in what I am. But at the same time, my work finds its readers, finds people who are interested."

Eric Simonoff, literary agent for, among others, Jhumpa Lahiri and Vikram Chandra, has this to add: "I think the market is now familiar with South Asian writers and Indian writers. There isn't a barrier if there ever was one to a new writer. The American market is extremely xenophobic, so you will see very few books in translation, very few books from France, really very few books from other non-English territories. So to have authors coming from English speaking cultures to a certain extent and writing in English makes it much easier to be embraced by North American readers anyway."

He goes on to make a final, depressing point: "The terrible secret of publishing is that most books fail and most literary fiction fails. It's very hard to get attention for fiction, review attention, radio attention and TV attention."

But there are glimmers of hope, as yesterday's New York Times editorial points out: "Remarkably, Americans still spend more on books than they do on moviegoing, recorded music, video games or DVDs. Despite all the advances in technology, books still have no equal when it comes to telling complicated, nuanced an age when air travelers can watch a Hollywood movie on their laptops, and video game players can live in a virtual city in their computers, a gratifyingly large number of Americans still want to curl up with a good book."


  • 'respectful audience', i'd like to see audiences become more disrespectful. :)

    By Blogger uma, at 12:39 PM  

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