Friday, December 3, 2010

Men’s Fiction Rules India

Indian men are reading, and writing for their brethren, and how! Already well-acclaimed across the globe in the genre of literary fiction, Indian men seem to have now taken a fancy for commercial fiction too. Authors like Tuhin Sinha, Ashwin Sanghi and Mukul Deva, have treated subjects like politics, war stories and historical fiction and are up there on the circuit. At the same time, fresh voices like Abhay Narayan Sapru, a Special Forces major with a novel on Kashmir Ops, and Hemant Kumar with his evocatively titled book, Prey by the Ganges, seem to be the names to watch out for.

Interestingly, the rest of the fiction world is largely a women’s market, especially, the UK and Europe. A notable exception is United States, but then the US is such a huge and evolved market that almost everything works there. An out and out women’s book like Eat, Pray, Love is as huge a hit as say, a new John Grisham novel.

Men, worldwide, seem to prefer non-fiction tomes and have a special affinity for biographies. It’s not as if Indian men don’t—the success of Gurcharan Das’s The Difficulty of Being Good or P V Rajgopal’s The British, The Bandits & The Bordermen has largely been possible because of the male readership. What makes Indian men different though, is a variety of factors, demography being an important one. A major chunk of Indian male readership is young and hence hasn’t graduated to the meatier non-fiction titles. Also, being culturally rooted and living in a country where everything is in a constant flux influence the reading preferences of the Indian male reader.

A sucker for good plots like his counterparts across the globe, one valid criticism that the Indian male reader of commercial fiction has to live with for now is his less than connoisseur taste in language. Equally to be blamed would be the Indian publishing industry which is only too happy to pander averagely written works to him, which he laps up, till as long as the plot is engaging enough. That’s where publishers, editors and the newly formed literary agents need to play a more active role. For, if the Indian male writers are to leave their mark on the international commercial fiction scenario, just like their more elitist literary fiction writing cousins did, they need to certainly spruce up their language skills. Who knows, with a more literary and lyrical style, they may also get the women readers hooked on to their suspense/mystery/political thrillers!

Shobit Arya is the publisher of Wisdom Tree and can be contacted at and Some of the books mentioned in the article are published by Wisdom Tree.

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