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Here’s to New Beginnings
By Jairaj Singh
Hindustan Times
January 2, 2006

The Vikram Seths and Salman Rushdies might still rule the roost but Indian writing in English has a brand new literati. Young and brimming with ideas they are not only open to unconventional styles of writing, they also like to explore with different genres.

Author Chetan Bhagat, arrived on the literary scene with his Five Point Someone and then duly followed it up with yet another bestseller, the novel One night @ The Call Centre (published by Rupa &Co).

The last mentioned work, according to him, relates to a “younger generation” and addresses the day-to-day concerns of life. The plot revolves around five friends working in a call centre and it is obvious that the author spins his yarn with a definite audience in mind. When quizzed about his choice of the mundane everyday things of life Bhagat lets in, “I lead a boring life. I go to work and in the evenings I spend time with my wife and children.”

While the story of the call centre has sold more than 70,000 copies, Samit Basu’s The Manticore’s Secret (Penguin India) is a fantasy-based work, a genre not many Indian English authors like to dabble in.

So why fantasy? “They always have a point” says Basu, “they take you completely away and then make you look at yourself from a distance”.

The Manticore’s Secret is the second in the GameWorld Trilogy. So is fantasy his chosen genre? Says Basu, “It’s a little too early in my literary career to decide whether I want to be a fantasy novelist. There are a lot of styles that I intend to experiment with eventually.”

Rina Dasgupta’s Tokyo Cancelled (Harper Collins), released earlier last year, did fairly well in the market. This one employs an unusual style of storytelling and is all about 13 strangers stranded in an airport, waiting to board the flight to Tokyo. Thrown together by circumstances they share and swap stories. Each story constitutes the different chapters of the novel.

Then there is Siddharth Shanghvi. Touted by The Sunday Times (UK) as ‘the next big thing’ in the literary scene he debuted with the novel The Last Song of Dusk (Penguin India). The book has been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee’s book Corridor (Penguin India) is also based on a new and innovative concept. So far as its performance in the market is concerned, a relieved Banerjee lets in that it has worked beyond his “father’s expectations”. Corridor weaves together the lives of some urban youngsters.

Says Banerjee, “I was getting frustrated while working on television productions. You never get to tell a story the way you want to through films.

As I see it, the best medium of visual story telling is the graphic novel. Initially, I thought my book would never sell, but then it went on to do quite well.”

With all that writing happening one can definitely sense a storm brewing in the literary teacup.

Keep reading folks.

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