Friday, November 30, 2012


Musings on Contemporary Indian Creative Writing in English

It looks like Indian Creative Writing in English has reached its nadir.

Can you name any Modern-Day Indian Fiction Writer of the calibre of RK Narayan, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, Manohar Malgonkar or Khushwant Singh?

The other day I was browsing in my favourite bookstore in Pune and I noticed a few things:

1. The book racks were flooded with novels written by Indian Authors.

2. Most of these novels were Campus Romances.

3. Most of the authors were youngsters who had just passed out of college (and some had written novels while studying). Of these, most writers had studied Engineering or Management.

4. Most books had shoddy production values, uneven editing and disappointing literary quality. 

5. The authors had nothing much to say and no message to convey through their writing. It appeared that they had written the novel for gratifying their vanity and, maybe, just to attain the status of a “published author”.

6. In most cases, as you read the story, the feeling of authenticity was missing, especially in the dialogues. Maybe this is due to the authors’ lack of life experience and this certainly validates the dictum that one must not write a book too early in life. Having studied Engineering at an IIT and Management at a premier institute, and also taught both Engineering and Management till recently, I really wonder whether life is really so exciting and romantic on campuses and workplaces as made out to be. Yes, literary licence is fine, but there are limits.

7. Almost all books were “Bestsellers”. Some novels were proclaimed bestsellers even before launch or in the first printing itself.

Regarding this last point, can someone tell me the definition of BESTSELLER.

What is a bestseller?

How can every book be a bestseller?

How may copies does a book have to sell before being declared a bestseller – One Million, One Lakh, Ten Thousand or One Thousand?

From the look of it, I have my doubts if some of those so-called “bestsellers” have sold 1000 copies.

This needs to be quantified and I feel that, in the Indian context, a book should be declared a bestseller only after it has sold at least One Lakh (100000) copies (and the sales figures must be verified and authenticated by the publisher).

With the proliferation of Information Technology, advent of ebooks and the accessibility, convenience and popularity of the Internet, I feel that the death of the printed book is inevitable as more and more readers shift to online reading and writers start Blogging to showcase their creative writing. This process may be hastened in India owing the poor quality of creative writing in English. Why should you pay for buying a shoddy book when you can read the best of literature for free on the internet?

In conclusion, this is the advice I would give to a young budding creative writer:

1. Don’t waste your time and effort writing and publishing your novel the conventional way. The only thing you will satisfy is your vanity as it is unlikely that you will make a substantial amount of money from publishing the book. In the modern-day world I don’t think you can survive by being a full time creative writer.

2. Forget about earning money and focus on your writing. The best way to showcase your writing to the world is to start a Blog. Blogging will satisfy your creative urge and give you a sense of instant gratification. When you blog you can write in your own natural style and you are not at the mercy of editors and publishers nor are you dictated by market forces as to what you must write and how you must write. And if you do want to “publish” and make money from your writing, then you can explore avenues like Amazon.

3. Accept the fact that change is inevitable and it may soon not be economically viable for anyone and everyone to publish, market and sell a book so publishers are going to become more circumspect before accepting manuscripts. So first ascertain the chances of acceptance and the likelihood that your proposed book will be published. Write your full manuscript only after your book proposal is accepted in principle. You must remember that in India, there are very few big publishers and they enjoy a monopoly position vis-à-vis new writers. There are very few literary agents in India. So you will have to do everything yourself. It is most demoralizing for a creative writer to go around peddling a completed manuscript since, by nature, creative writers are sensitive persons. Ask yourself: Do you have the brazen marketing skills required in today’s world to push your book with publishers and later in the market?

Rather than be in a frustrating situation where your creative efforts cannot find an outlet in the form a book, isn’t it better to post your writing on a blog?

BLOGS ARE IN and BOOKS ARE OUT – do you agree?

And before I forget, can someone please tell us the definition of BESTSELLER.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like reading this article?
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my book  COCKTAIL an anthology of Short Fiction.
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:

If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
Professional Profile Vikram Karve:
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog:
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No comments: