V Kumara Swamy
If Booker Prize is the criterion to gauge the quality of English writing, then Indians certainly are lacking behind, says Susanna Nicklin, Director of Literature Department, British Council.
"After scaling the peaks, I frankly believe that Indian writing has reached a plateau, but I must admit at the same time that interest in Indian writers is enormous in England," Nicklin told PTI on her first visit to India after becoming the head of the London-based Council's literature section.
It is due to this interest that British Council is exploring the possibility of stacking books from India in its libraries across the world, she says.
"We want to take India to more and more readers in Britain and around the world. There is really buzz about India and we want to contribute our part," she says.
Nicklin, who was earlier as international literary agent specialising in translation rights, has worked with Indian writers like Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth.
She was on a visit to India to "understand" the Indian publishing industry and "explore" the possibilities of having more Indian books in British Council Libraries.
Ask her about any Indian writers she is impressed with, "Rana Dasgupta" comes the reply. "He is one of the most talented writers around and I see great future for him." she says.
According to Nicklin, if people recognise themselves by their real names and place, and say that they are speaking on behalf of a company, it would help in the British appreciating the Indian accent a lot more.
According to Nicklin, literature being one of the cornerstones of British Council's activities would like to see more and more Indians take to reading literature. "We want to permeate ideas using literary education, but we cannot force people to read, it is something that has to be cultivated through various means," she says.
"No matter how much we would like to see more Indians read literature by expanding our services within India, but we cannot open more centres in India as we are not a funding organisation," she rues.
Nicklin says that having good librarians who can encourage people to read good literature would be one of our priorities. "Communications strategy is a key aspect. If library staff lacks adequate training, they may not be able to guide potential readers effectively, that is one area we would like to work on," she says.