02 August, 2021

Kamala's Agony

In lurid, tinny Tamil pulp, starlets rest cheek-by-jowl with gods. Remarkably satisfying.

Kamala's Agony
One of the curious absences in the world of Anglophone reading in India is Indian popular fiction. There’s Chetan Bhagat who’s priced sensibly and sells hugely, but the culture of English-language publishing in India is genteel, bourgeois and literary. There is no desi Nick Carter, no James Hadley Chase, no dime novel equivalents, no fiction magazines of the sort that sustained popular science fiction and no really prolific, bestselling authors.

This has something to do with the narrowness of the social class that reads English for pleasure in India. But even within this sliver, publishers seem to aim their books at the tiny minority that’s willing to be bored witless in the name of art. The idea of fiction as guiltless diversion where the reader turns pages in search of reliable narrative pleasure, doesn’t seem to exist.

This matters because there’s something odd about a reading habit where the literary fiction you read grows out of the world you live in, but the popular fiction comes from elsewhere. Your Indian reader...

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