Global Trade Talk: Does Indian Fiction Lack Ambition?; Dylan Thomas Prize Goes Annual

In Global Trade Talk by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

While much of world is enamored with Indian English-language novelists, those at home are not always so impressed. Looking at the shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, Hartosh Singh Bal expresses his discontent with the current state of Indian fiction in the most recent issue of Open magazine. He asserts that “the literature of this generation of writers is mostly about a few people staring at their navels.” Bal laments that publishers and writers alike lack the ambition to write “the big Indian book.”

The problem, Bal believes, stems from the insularity of the publishing industry itself. He writes: “This world is largely a product of Bengalis and Malayalis living in south Delhi or south Mumbai writing for each other. Maybe not quite, you can throw in a few people in Bangalore and Chennai, but there is no escaping the monotony and effeteness of much that is finally published.” I wonder: Is it so different in New York, London, or Berlin? Not likely.

Steve Rubin, the former Doubleday publisher, has resigned his position as executive v-p and publisher-at-large for Random House, a position where he had been tasked, among other duties, with serving as a liaison with the company’s international division. PW reports that he plans to write a book. About what, exactly, remains yet to be seen.

The Dylan Thomas Prize is becoming an annual event, writes The Bookseller. The award previously gave £60,000 to a writer under the age of 30, but only did so every two years. Going forward the prize will be awarded every year and offer £30,000. The first two winners were Rachel Trezise in 2006 and Nam Le in 2008 (a prize for which I served as a judge.) The next prize will be awarded in 2010.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.