Paulo Coelho, not a struggling writer by any definition, has been known for a while as the wise man-cum-novelist who knows the mysteries of the universe but will only put it in gyrating prose. It seems that he is in the middle of a controversy. According to his to-be released biography, The Magus, the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL) accepted him as one of its members so that he could inject some glamour into the institution. Oh, and also because it hopes that the heir-less Mr Coelho would leave his hefty inheritance to the ABL treasurer.
Now what may hold true for Brazil’s Sahitya Akademi could hold true for India’s version of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Why doesn’t the fuddy-duddy Akademi learn a thing or two from the ABL and their dealings with Mr Coelho? In making Mr Coelho a member, the ABL was clearly trying to keep itself relevant. While we’re sure that the members of our Sahitya Akademi have all earned their stripes, perhaps a few younger, more ‘popular’ writers could be ushered in to give the body a certain resonance in these non-Academic times.
We would strongly recommend that our literary body doesn’t replicate the Brazilian Academy’s gesture. But surely there’s a golden mean by which popular writers who aren’t as ludicrous as Mr Coelho (and a few come to our mind) can be given a qualitative leg-up for a nice little barter.