Responsibilities of Fiction Readers

By default, a person is compelled to grow up understanding certain things about literature produced in English language – Shakespeare was the greatest ever dramatist; Wordsworth was the greatest poet and can only be put next to Shakespeare; Dickens was the greatest ever novelist in English language; there did not happen such case that any essayist could excel Francis Bacon in essay writing and so on… the list is endless and we are cowed by those. We have to accept without any opportunity for us to register our protest. We are told such things in such way and if our taste betrays the facts stuffed in our minds, we are said to have a ‘bad taste’ for literature. Isn’t it true?

Even in India, Indian literature in the English language holds very little respect and our syllabus is filled with the ‘genuine works’ of ‘English Literature’. We cow down. In the name of the variety, we are offered American literature; Australian literature; colonial literature and post-colonial literature, women literature and so many other forms of literature which seldom have space for our own literary productions. Where is Indian English literature? When we ask this question, we are offered Tagore, Narayan, Rao, Anand, Das, Roy, and the concurrent ones like Ghosh, Desai and a few others including the poster boy Bhagat. This is good; it has to be better and it won’t unless we realise (sooner the better) that we must have a ‘real taste’ of literature rather than a good or a bad taste at all!

We seriously need to recognise the potential authors who can represent Indian English literature on the world literature forums and we need to support them with wide readerships and encouragement. Instead of staged award-functions, we need some serious encouraging organisations which support real and genuine literary fiction instead of branding commercial and utterly cheap fiction as the trend. How on earth can someone write a cheap garbage with explicit gain a prize by some reputed company or organisation or a book chain? Ask yourselves before believing such news.

Why is India’s baggage very empty when it comes to literary awards? Why we struggle in the Booker and Nobel Prizes? Why not our authors are there? Because we have let down our serious writers by not reading their works; by not encouraging their hard work, we have compelled several of our marvellous fiction writers to quit writing and start something else and this is surely on our part! The readers will also have to understand the importance to read literature instead of reading the cheap pieces of roadside comic stories which offer textual ejaculation of mental avarice!

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