Publishing industry has seen a sea change: Ghosh | india | Hindustan Times
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Publishing industry has seen a sea change: Ghosh

Being an author is no longer a rare profession. When I was in my 20s, there was very little English writing by Indians. But then there were fewer publishers and fewer bookstores. So, the whole industry has seen a sea change. I am fortunate I can live off writing, says writer Amitav Ghosh.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 19:47 IST

In India, the perspective towards authors has changed. What do you think?
Being an author is no longer a rare profession. When I was in my 20s, there was very little English writing by Indians. But then there were fewer publishers and fewer bookstores. So, the whole industry has seen a sea change. I am fortunate I can live off writing.

What do you think of the new authors of today?
It is interesting to see young writers who are not scared of trying out different styles. Believable real fiction writing is getting more common. Youngsters like Chetan Bhagat have real talent and I am looking forward to reading his new novel.

What is your typical day like?
I work 9-5 every day. Since there is no formula, at the end of the day I can end up with two paragraphs or 20 pages. The beginning of the book is always tougher to write because you are laying the foundation and one has to be very careful.

At the cost of sounding staid, what is the inspiration for your stories?
At the cost of sounding clichéd, life is my inspiration: the good and the bad. Most of my books start with a visual that pops up in my head. For example, I saw an image of a woman in a boat talking to a dolphin, and then wrote The Hungry Tide.

How was your first experience when you started writing?
When I wrote Circle of Reason, I went from publisher to publisher with my manuscript. It was hard but very memorable. Finally, Roli published it. Luck has a big role to play. Often, a very good manuscript does not get published.

Has the publishing industry also developed?
Having more Indian publishers is an incentive for authors. Small publishers like Ravi Dayal (who has published all my books in hardback), Katha, India Ink and Permanent Black are doing remarkable work in publishing original writing and translations. Now, distribution is also easier and the books are available everywhere, including railway stations.

How is writing as a profession?
Writing is a very lonely profession. I miss having colleagues. But then I love doing this. I have worked as a journalist and taught in the past. I also worked on the film script of Mississipi Masala. But, this is what I love best.

What do you think of the various awards for authors?
Indians are getting recognition all over the world. Felicitation in one's own country is always welcome.

The key is transparency in the criteria and judgement. Awards instituted by the government, like the Sahitya Akademi, have no transparency and thus, are highly bureaucratic and lack credibility. The Hutch Crossword awards are a great initiative because booksellers are the best people to institute a set of awards.