Monday, October 16, 2006

What Men Want? Vandana Kalra of Indian Express has the insight

What men want

After chick lit, it’s men’s turn to turn on the tap of creativity. The new literary genre is called lad lit

Vandana Kalra

Move over Bridget Jones, Mark Darcy is here. After the hyped arrival of chick lit as a genre, men have decided to keep pace, coming up with their own version of a literary strand called—no surprises here—lad lit. So even as debate rages over the limitations and frivolity of the genre, the works are raking up sales and rising in popularity, inspiring a new breed of lad lit writers.

Cases in point are the first anniversary edition of Abhijit Bhaduri’s celebrated B-school drama, Mediocre But Arrogant, which hits the market this week, the success of Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center and Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal’s Tourism released earlier this year, which managed rave reviews. The soaring sales, not merely of the Indian lad lit, but international counterparts like JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Nick Hornby’s About a Boy and High Fidelity, Kyle Smith’s Love Monkey and Nick Laird’s Utterly Monkey also indicate the growing interest in this new style.

“People aren’t really aware about the genre, but are gradually becoming interested in purchasing works that fall into the category,” says Anil Arora, proprietor of Bookworm in Connaught Place. The USP of the genre? “The feeling that ‘this story is so much like mine’,” says Bhaduri, whose Mediocre But Arrogant chronicles the life of an unambitious drifter who is clueless about his post-graduation plans. “Lad lit has the ability to blur the line between fact and fiction and the readers can often recognise their own selves and their acquaintances among the characters of the novel,” he adds.

However, unlike Bhaduri, most authors and publishers prefer not to categorise their work. “Lad lit is essentially a form of writing that is targeted at the young male audience and none of the Indian writings fit into that classification,” says Ravi Singh, editor-in-chief of Penguin. So while Sudeep Chakravarti’s Penguin publication Tin Fish, a nostalgic narrative of a 15-year-old studying in Mayo College in the 1970s, may have the essentials of a lad lit, Chakravarti doesn’t prefer to term it as one. Says he, “It’s simply about a youngster’s tribulations and experiences. It appeals to a cross-section of society, not simply the lads, so why call it lad lit?”

The denunciation is apparent, but also much needed. As Singh explains, “Lad lit is usually targeted at young men and they comprise a very minute segment of the pulp fiction readers in India. So the readership is limited the moment you term a work lad lit.” The Wikipedia definition of lad lit doesn’t do much for the genre either: “(A) literary genre that features books written by men and focusing on young male characters, particularly those who are selfish, insensitive and afraid of commitment.”

While the authors still ponder over the definition and relevance of lad lit, there’s no arguing that the works are flying off the shelves. “Lad lit is here to stay and will continue till all college/school campus settings have been utilised,” predicts Bhaduri.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Display at Universal Books, Lucknow, India

Professor Madhukar Shukla of XLRI has just sent in photos of the book Mediocre But Arrogant. He clicked the picture in Lucknow, India at the Universal Bookstore.

It is always fascinating to see which books my book is keeping company of. Whether in someone's bookshelf at home or at a major bookshop. It must be some kind of analysis that says that people who buy a particular book TEND to buy some other books from a predictable list. Is that something you can predict? What do you think?

If you see an interesting photo of the display of Mediocre But Arrogant with "interesting neighbours", do send me a photo with details of the bookshop where the photo was taken. I would love to publish it along with credits for the photo.

Madhukar also has a great photoblog at check it out.