I was at tatanagar recently for my intern when i dragged my ass to the local bookstore to catch up on my reading list (yes, few straight men still have reading lists), lack of TV AND Internet do kick up some desperate moves but when i got to the store i was amazed to see the display stacked with books from Indian authors!. The occasional amartya sen or arvind adiga is fine but the books in question were all from debutantes.
"Naya writerlog hai babu. Sab aajkal yahi pad rahe hain", offerred the shop clerk.
I stood a minute and tried to recollect if i had seen any of the cover on any traffic signal back in Bombay or at least at landmark/crosswords but couldn't place any author. Further investigation revealed that the books were of the "if-chetan-bhagat-can-write-books-so-can-i" genre.
All the books were published by a company called shrishti publications which i gather used to print bhajan patrikaas before it saw a market in 'youth' books.
All the books sell at 100 bucks and so i guess even the traffic-pirates don't see a margin with these. All the books have 3 things in common-
1) All of them are published by a company which doesn't have a website and has a profit sheet comparable to street-hawkers.
2) Corny titles like, "Anything for you, ma'am- a IIT-ians love story" (soo interested i was to pay and read this brainy IIT-ians love story with his prof that i almost peed my pants)
3) All of them are "National Bestsellers". Why i heard "A Guy Thing... A 'Magical' Love Story Of An IITian" and "Love, Life And Dream On An IITian's Story Of Romance" are already among the country's nomination list to the man-bookers having sold a grand 5000 copies each.
Though i may not be as half as brilliant as the IITians who wrote the books but 5000 books in 28 states excluding union territories makes roughly 180 books per state! OMG! How the authors manage to walk the streets without getting mobbed by their fans, will forever remain a enigma.
Their towering intellects shine through their masterpieces with spelling mistakes and use to words like "kantaap maal" to describe their professors. While profanity may be excused, whats with the emphasis on being a IIT-ians love story? Do they love differently than us mortals or is everyone dying to read about how IITians are horny perverts jerking off their 50-something professors in between lunch breaks?
And as like the gift of illiteracy, unemployment and retardness, only one person is to be thanked. Chetan Bhagat. Thank you sir for enriching our culture with your own gems of literature and the several other pieces of art(crap) which your fellow college mates seem to be churning, your dirt-cheap books have reduced hawking on traffic signals and many children have to forcibly go to school because no one reads good literature anymore and hence they are jobless.
Your highly qualified peers have also figured out the magic mantra of being "the most loved author"-
1) You should be from a IIT/DCE/BIT.
2) You should have studied in a English medium school.
3) Use words like "fuck" or "s-e-x" to make the books 'youthful'
A special thanks to shrishti publications for giving our talentless writers work and pay, wouldn't be the same without you.
"I'll take the paulo coelho bhaiya. What? 250 bucks?...thik hai..toh 'love at IIT' hi de do". Shucks!