A tidal wave of chicklit books has flooded the Indian market. In the six-and-a-half years I have been in business, I haven’t seen anything like this. When we started off, we had a bestsellers’ section, then demand forced us to create a separate fantasy section and a year later a section on graphic novels was added. Now, I have two shelves for the chicklit section.
This variety of books is written by fun-loving and street-smart women and is meant for non-serious readers. Its readers are fed up of ‘depressing’, ‘erudite’, ‘powerful’ and ‘socialist’ novels of yesteryears. But those who love good literature cannot figure out why these books exist. My 20-year-old daughter once complained about their language and grammar. “Why do you stock such books, mom?” she asked. “I am in bijnas sweetie,” I said.
It was Chetan Bhagat who became a phenomenon with his Five Point Someone. Abhijit Bhaduri’s Mediocre But Arrogant came out in 2005 and in 2007 Advaita Kala’s Almost Single. In 2008 we had a deluge: The Zoya Factor (Anuja Chauhan), You Are Here (Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan) and Pink or Black (Tishaa). Then there were Those Small Lil Things (Rahul Saini) and Keep Off the Grass (Karan Bajaj).
For the uninitiated, here is a sample of the works: In his foreword, Saini writes: “I am basically Punjabi by nature AND MY ENGLISH SUCKS. BUT I WILL STILL BLOODY WRITE THIS BOOK!!!!” (emphasis author’s). Madhavan’s book cover is plastered by blurbs like ‘Get cosy with hot guy at pool party’, ‘Do not disturb: perfect make-out session in progress’. Dude, what’s happening?
(Shobha Sengupta owns a bookstore and art gallery)