Consumable Texts in Contemporary India: Uncultured Books and by Suman Gupta (auth.)

By Suman Gupta (auth.)

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The precise ways in which this structure has been adapted (rather than simply mimicked) for Indian consumers are of considerable significance for research and analysis – a detailed exposition is beyond the scope of this chapter. It is possible that certain expectations and experiences associated with older traditions of commercial fiction production in Indian languages have been integrated within the global template. Some research has already been devoted to the predecessors of these “genres” in Indian languages or earlier English-language productions, themselves often inspired by colonial commercial fiction from Britain: for example, Chandra (2008) for comics; Roy (2008) for Bengali detective fiction; Mathur (2006) and Orsini (2004) for detective fiction in the colonial period; Sengupta (2003) for Bengali science fiction; Daechsel (2003) for Urdu detective fiction; and Khair (2008) gives a history of “Indian English pulp fiction” before Shobhaa De.

Arguably, the cultivated localization that operates through English in Indian commercial fiction, emphatically for internal circulation within a global publishing template, involves an internal branding of India for internal consumption. This could be a kind of internal branding in much the way that “ethnic” clothing or “Vedic lifestyle” commodities are brands for the nation within India. By being unlinked to a regional place within India, English’s localized and familiarized idiom in commercial fiction provides a useful medium for internally branding the nation.

The translator of Pathak’s novels, Sudarshan Purohit, wrote a somewhat sad article on the low sales of the translations, wondering whether: We might be in this situation because we’ve imported the whole business of English books – writing, buying, marketing, even the genre names on the bookshelves, from the Western books ecosystem. This includes the reviewing and the top ten lists and the contacts with the press – everything that constitutes the hype that sells the books. Publishers in other languages are still waking up to the fact that the English publishing industry is dominating the literary supplements.

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