The Campus Novels


Campuses across the country have become a fertile ground for fiction. After the turn of the IITs and the IIMs, the trend is now catching up in JNU. The young alumni of various colleges around the country are in the race to write the greatest Indian campus novel. These novels are a huge success among the alumni fraternity, college goers and those who wish to set foot in those campuses. They give a sense of déjà vu and are selling like hot cakes.

The trend of ‘campus novels’ as they are called, started with the phenomenal success of Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, which is claimed to be a bestseller having sold a million copies worldwide. This novel may not compare with F.Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, a great American novel about college life, but has created a whole new market for campus novels in India. It has also turned non-readers into ‘neo-readers’. The latest in campus novels include JNU: Sumthing Of A Mocktale by Soma Das, a former post-grad student at the university. Her book takes a look at JNU politics and culture that is characterized by jeans, kurta and jhola. Harishdeep Jolly, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore is the author of You Desire: A Journey Through IIM, a book, which deals with the issues of career and relationships. The Inscrutable Americans, published nearly a decade ago still remains hugely popular. Other novels creating a buzz on the campus include The Funda of Mix-ology by Mainak Dhar, Mediocre But Arrogant (MBA) by Abhijit Bhaduri and Above Average by Amitabha Bagchi.

Publishers of these novels say that every month they are flooded with dozens of manuscripts of campus novels set in the countries famed colleges and universities. Those that get published are low priced and have catchy titles. An imaginative cover design and an effective PR drive help in making these novels bestsellers. Major publishers are encouraging young writers to come up with good manuscripts in the hope of getting a bestseller.

Most college novels have simple narratives and are spun around study pressures, social integration and a romantic twist. They have a comic undertone and deal with issues that college goers have often faced. They make the reader relive his own experiences in a delightful way. At times events are exaggerated and not entirely factual. But it makes for a lighthearted read at the end of a tiring day, which is what most of us look for. In the next few months, novels revolving around the IIM, IIT, DU and the Law Campuses are expected to hit the market. Young readers are in for some fun reading this summer!

Astik Sinha