Times Change, Style of Writing Changes

Aravind Adiga is a hit, and now that he acquired the Booker for his debut novel The White Tiger, he has become the pride of the nation.“Congrats, Mr. Adiga! You tamed the tiger”

The genus and genre of writing has changed in every generation. In the initial nineteenth century, Raja-Rani stories were the mainstream writing genre. But with birth of iconic writers like Rabindranath Tagore, Sharat Chandra Chatterjee and Munshi Premchand, the focus shifted from the stories of upper class elite to human emotions, to oppressed, to contemporary women, to life. Premchand touched the chords of human hearts with his realistic stories of Indians, especially peasants. The pathetic penury of the poor was aptly captured by him. It is said, to know India read a Premchand. Tagore’s Postmaster still remains an incomparable thought.

Then came the blow of India-Pakistan partition, Hindu-Muslim separation, which saw Amrita Pritam’s memorable Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu, Pinjar, Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan. Pre independence, in the early twentieth century, R.K Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand gave readers an India that existed but was unimportant. Anand’s Untouchable referred to the caste system in India, and R.K Narayan’s stories on common man in an imaginary place – Malgudi – portrayed lives so common and so unglamorous.

In the last few decades, books are written in miscellaneous genre. Amitav Ghosh’s fiction, Sulman Rushdie’s (of the fatwa fame to a non-reader of books) magic realism stories, Shashi Tharoor‘s analysis on Indian civilization, Nehru, India of past and India of future marked unbound thoughts of a writer. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s The Last Song of Dusk read stories of new age Indian life – love, sex and tragedy. The two books deal with stories of happiness and unhappiness, of people wanting to live in virtue but how they eventually succumb to violation..

Tagore and Rushdie have given the world unparalleled stories but today’s Indian writers have brought about a revolution in the field of reading. Chetan Bhagat, the engineer, the investment banker and now a writer gave sanction to sex during study classes, with his three books, Five Point Someone, One Night @ the Call Center and The Three Mistakes of My Life. He has made book reading a hobby for all. It is undoubtedly a good sight to see every youngster reading his book, though it is quite obvious why they read only Chetan Bhagat. The language is simple, the characters are young, and the acts are juvenile. It is baffling how the reviewers rate Chetan Bhagat’s nothing-at-all books a-must-read. (This is a personal opinion, of course.)

The latest entry is Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan who, in her debut book You Are Here, epitomizes new Indian female who is confident and wild enough to compare her life with a bra strip. Gone are the days when Indian women were described conservative, hesitant and uneager (I dare not comment on the character of this book since she is a Delhiite, and there would be many readers from Delhi).

The writing style, the theme of story and the art of story telling have all been changing with time. And with the new age writers gaining popularity, interest to pick up a pen and write has become more widespread than ever. Maybe a decade later, we will have a set of new writers with new writing art altogether. As of now, let Adiga ride the tiger!

Suhani Dewra

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