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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Abhijit
I chanced on Mediocre But Arrogant when waiting for my daughter to pick up her school reference books at a popular book store in Hyderabad.
The graphic cover design similar to Rang De Basanti got me interested and I read the back cover reviews and started off on the first few pages, having come to know that you were at XLRI Jamshedpur, a place which my wife Mita belongs to and you pursuing a course which she had taken from XISS Ranchi I bought it for Mita.

Mita was busy and could not start on MBA, I started it at 10pm in the night and read it one single go until 4:30 in the morning. I must say that it is a wonderfully written experience of your time at XLRI and I really could identify with most of the characters and their relationships with you, others, the professors at the institute.

Boy am I going to hunt Dadu's place when I next visit JSR.

Keep up the good writing that you have done and I do hope to read more of it soon. May you never face a white page syndrome.

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Just finished reading Mediocre, But Arrgonat... To say that its a great read, would be an understatement! This story is so much like mine...!

But I have a question. At the end, when Keya says she has something to say... but she doesn't tell it... does this mean that there's a sequel in the offing? What does she want to convey to Abbey?



Anonymous said...

Dear Abhijit (Sir),

A friend of mine passed me your book - MBA. The book is something totally different in terms of the style and approach. The language used, the sense of humour, the storyline, the writing style et al - they are all simply SUPERB. I could not keep the book down. I reiterate, the language and wittiness are a class apart. Thanks a lot for such an entertaining masterpiece. I plan to buy this book as soon as my end terms are over - the book is most certainly worth owning and passing on to friends.

Rascal Rusty was the character I liked the best. But the cherry on the cake was the letter Abbey recieved from Hathaway. I agree completely that higher education is intended to understand oneself and oneself's strengths. It is a wonderful message that you have conveyed.

All the very best to you.
Warmest regards,


Arunava Mukherjee
Student, B.A., LL.B. (Hons).
National Law University, Jodhpur

Abhijit Bhaduri said...

Dear AG
Thanks for your mail. To answer your question, yest there is a sequel in the offing. The title is MARRIED BUT AVAILABLE !!!
Another MBA

Anonymous said...

Hi ! Abhijit,

Read yr book, thoroughly enjoyed it !!! It took me through a range of emotions.

Having read the book felt me scoring 2/10 in QT during my MBA was`nt that bad (just joking) !!!

What really made me think was the last page wherein protagonist reads the letter given by Prof.Hathaway. All this while I wondered if an MBA made any difference to my career (read as life) . After reading the last page I realize that the impact does not really have to be very apparent, it can be at a subliminal level as well !!!

Also, must share this with you. My dad is a retired Railway officer too, although he was never posted in Delhi. Since, you`hv stayed at Railway Colony;SP Marg, guess you can join this community on Orkut with the same name

Thnx for writing such a wonderful book. Look forward for many more such books from you



Anonymous said...

Hi Abhijit

heard a lot about ur book but I couldn't get it anywhere in delhi/noida/chandigarh. any ideas from where i can get it .

Abhijit Bhaduri said...

I know that Landmark in Gurgaon has it. As does Quills and Canvas and Om Book store in Gurgaon.