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The Bestselling Bad Literature – what one should read – modern Indian Literature

I have been constantly raising my voice that a genre called ‘casual literature’ does exist and it’s rather popular compared to the traditional writing we call ‘literature’ in general. Why do I say so? Look around yourself and try guessing the names of five popular novelists. What do you find? Your list, most probably, would reflect the names (if not all) like Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Ravinder Singh, Shobha De, Arundhati Roy and, if you are too casual, Durjoy Datta, Nikita Singh and a few others. However, you will ‘casually’ miss the names of Amitav Ghosh, Kiran Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Jeet Thayil, Arvind Adiga, Amitava Kumar and even the pillars like Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie and Jhumpa Lahiri. I am not complaining. I am just showing my disgust for the modern authors who cannot look beyond their ‘commercial canvas’. 

Modern literature cheap literature commercial literature India

What’s happening? 

Well, if you ask yourself this question, you will understand for yourself. However, I think that the modern lifestyle has too limited scopes in terms of pursuing leisure meaningfully. One can play online games and listen to online music or ‘watch Netflix and chill’. If the ‘one’ we are concerned with likes reading, s/he can read the ‘romance packages’ by Durjoy Datta or ‘bundle’ by Chetan Bhagat or ‘Bharat Darshan lot’ by Amish Tripathi or enjoy the mytho-adventure series by Ashwin Sanghi – in short, there is no limitations on what one can read to ‘kill’ time literally. However, there is a dearth of literature when it comes to reading to use one’s time productively and learning new things. Isn’t it strange? 

Why it’s happening? 

Who got the answer for this? There’s nothing that happens without a cause. As they defined traditional literature as ‘mirror of the society’, modern literature is the mirror of modern society! Am I wrong? Well, ask this question to yourself and your conscience will reverberate what I am writing here. Modern literature that’s becoming popular today is nothing but a medium to realise how perverse and how lowly have our thoughts become, mostly. Cheap pieces like those by the authors who only focus on ‘breasts’ and ‘butts’ of women are becoming popular because this kind of literature can ‘penetrate’ deeper into the human psyche and provide intense entertainment instantly. Moreover, who the hell has time to sit for hours and finish just a few chapters of William Thackeray today? No One! 

The authors and the poets who are sincere to the very purpose of literature and those who want to bring effective literature into play, sadly, are on the high horse of their ‘morality’ that does not allow them to come down to communicate with the ‘poor’ chaps who cannot understand the ‘high language’ that is often used in the literary fairs, popularly known as lit-fests. Who will bell the cat? Everyone fears it! 

What can one do as a writer and as a reader? 

My very learned friend suggested one day that there should be a middle-path for this. The creators must respect the purpose of such creations and, at the same time, they must respect the limits of the audience as well. So, in simple terms, write whatever you can, the best way, but make it simpler so that the common and the average readers can also understand what you want to convey. 

As a reader, one should, at least, be careful enough to find out the authors who are purely writing nonsense – just getting their characters on the bed time to time and circumambulating the bedroom. Even Chetan Bhagat does not do that and his works offer entertainment and a lighter representation of social problems that are predominant in our times. However, the self-published and self-obsessed authors are, mostly, the ones who should be avoided for the best of our literature and the best of our readers too! 

And here, I rest my case. I cannot dictate what one should write. I cannot, at the same time, regulate what one reads. However, I just stated my opinions on what we can do to keep our rich literary tradition alive and meaningful. All the best with your writings and all the best with your readings too. Make sure you do everything that is meaningful and worth doing. 

(This article proudly gets its sponsorship from Egoistic Readers – one of the best book review websites in India)

Alok Mishra

First and foremost a poet, Alok Mishra is an author next. Apart from these credentials, he is founder & Editor-in-Chief of Ashvamegh, an international literary magazine and also the founder of BookBoys PR, a company which helps writers brand themselves and promote their books. On this blog, Alok mostly writes about literary topics which are helpful for literature students and their teachers. He also shares his poems; personal thoughts and book reviews.

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