For a while now, publishers have expressed concerns about Indian fiction in the English language dying a slow death. Fewer novels are being published, and sales figures are precarious. There just doesn’t seem to be enough readers who might be interested in what the young and hot-blooded writers are writing in India today.
This is a bit of a paradox since well-established older writers like Amitav Ghosh or Jerry Pinto continue to be favourites and books, by literary greats such as Rabindranath Tagore or Sadat Hasan Manto continue to dominate backlists. However, publishers are witnessing a growing interest in Indian nonfiction – especially political biographies, spirituality and well-being, and alternative histories among other.
Interestingly, there has also been a surge of fiction in translation – translators are doing a wonderful job of scouring regional literature to bring to the English reader the best of classical and contemporary writings from the languages of India. Apart from an ever-expanding readership, big literary awards in India have also realised the potential of translated fiction – for instance, the longlist for the 2022 JCB Prize for Literature is dominated by translations.
Publishers are pointing out how more and more young writers are taking to translation and the reasons why these stories appeal…