SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011
GIVE WINGS TO YOUR TALENT Syed Zafar Mehdi
he acclaimed author of My Son the Fanatic, Hanif Kureishi created quite a flutter recently when he remarked that Indian writing in English has become boring. It may have ruffled many feathers in Indian literary circles, but it certainly has not dampened the spirit of budding authors, who are making beelines to get their works published. With no dearth of role models to emulate and the avenues also expanding tremendously, the new age writers are leaving no stone unturned to grab the spotlight.
Good time’s ahead Indian writing in English has improved considerably over the years. Earlier, the scene was dominated by writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy but with the new crop of authors spreading their wings, good times are certainly ahead. Shabnam Gupta, author of children’s books says, “The scene has never looked better. There are new genres, new trends and new authors on the block. Publishers and readers are willing to experiment, give
The new crop of authors: Kusum Lata Sawhney, Chetan Bhagat and Karan Bajaj
a chance and take risks, there’s place for everything under the sun.” Nitasha Kaul, author of Imagining Economics Otherwise, feels the arena is both diverse and challenging. “I hope the newer authors continue to bridge the different worlds of the Indian surroundings and the English fiction reader,” says Kaul.
Pursuit for publishers For any budding writer, the hunt for the prospective publisher is a Herculean task. But according to some established authors, things have improved drastically now. “The scene is better now than the times in past,” says Karan Bajaj, celebrated author of two bestsellers, Johnny Gone Down (2010) and Keep
off the Grass (2008). Even publishers are not averse to the idea of launching new writers. “We have always believed in promoting young and new talent. We publish the maximum number of first time writers in the country and will continue to do so,” says Kapish G Mehra, Publisher, Rupa & Co. “Ideally one should try and get an agent. If one is writing to a publisher directly then a cover letter with a CV, a synopsis of the manuscript and three sample chapters should be sent. “Every publishing house has a website and a separate page on ‘How to get published’. Read and follow it. No one can stop a good book from getting published if it has what it takes,” says Gupta.
Publishing Houses in your area Sharada Publishing House
721 Amba Tower, DC Chowk Rohini Sector -9, New Delhi Tel: 011 32921560 Mahan Publishing House 127, Pitampura, New Delhi UBS Publishers Distributors 5, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi Tel: 011 23273601-04 Jaico Publishing House G-2/16, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi Tel: 011 23260618 Macmillan Publishers 2/10 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi
The write way Dr Nitasha Kaul, an author, academic, poet, traveller, photographer, currently the visiting Fellow at Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), University of Westminster, UK. She is the author of Imagining Economics Otherwise. In a freewheeling chat with Syed Zafar Mehdi, she talks about writing, publishers and Indian writing in English. When did the idea of writing strike you first? As a child, reading stories, I would wonder what happened to the characters after the book ended. So, imagining their unwritten lives became a habit. The joy of being drawn into a story, of creating one’s own stories is unparalleled. How has your experience with publishers been? In my experience, nonfiction publishers tend to be more focused. Fiction publishers, on the other hand, sometimes have a largerthan-life idea of ‘what the market wants’ which is not always borne out by reality. What’s your take on Indians writing in English, especially in the context of budding authors?
Indians writing in English has a privileged status in terms of remuneration and readership and has sometimes courted controversy by presenting a stereotypical or cliched picture of India. How difficult it is for budding authors in India to get published? It seems that an online presence (through blogging for example) and burgeoning litfest-type events provide greater opportunities now. What are the important traits that every writer should possess? A curiously insane love of words, a lively imagination, a working memory, a facility for otherness, a capacity to work hard and a store of patience.
Interview in HT (Hindustan Times) India