Sunday, January 08, 2006

Interest in Indian authors declining?

Meet novelist Vikram Chandra, after a long time, here. He is off with his beard now. He took many years to hit the bookstands again. His last book was a collection of short stories, Love and Longing in Bombay.

For his new novel, loosely based on the Bombay mafia, he got a million dollar advance and naturally hit the headlines.

In this interview, here answers at least two interesting questions:

Do you think that getting a huge advance puts pressure on a writer to "perform"?

I'm mostly done with the book, so in this case no. I'm very grateful but finally it is an external event I have to keep at a distance in the same way you maintain a distance from reviews or praise. Because your job finally is to imagine and you do your storytelling because you love to and want to. If it interferes with you sitting alone in front of the blank screen then it is damaging.

Despite there being many more Indians writing in English, why is there lesser interest in the West in Indian authors?

No, I don't think there is a real decline. May be they've just got over the initial bubble. The excitement that happened in the late 1990s with people in the West getting very excited and publishers pouring money into one or two books; that kind of artificial or frenzied bubble inevitably flattens out. I think what is happening now is that there is a constancy and at least I see in the United States more people than ever reading Indian authors.

For more, go to The Hindu website.

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