Young, creative - male ‘chick lit’ writers are here (Feature)

October 2nd, 2011 - 12:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Chetan Bhagat New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) They are young, footloose, creative and often handsome… Meet the GenX male writers of commercial lifestyle and business fictions who tell racy stories of love, loss, failure and dizzy success.

Some call them the writers of male chick pulp, while readers like to call them the male equivalent of Bridget Jones - the lonesome chick of 1990s who represented the mad world of singletons in search of love…

“The chick writers are changing genders. By god, they are men…,” laughed V. Rosemary Ann, a 35-year-old entrepreneur and part-time model in the capital.

Ann recently stumbled upon Ajay Khullar’s “The Nothing Man”, a book which reminded her of “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, the 1996 classic.

Journalist-turned-writer Khullar describes his hero “Baru as a reterosexual, who does not have to work for a living”.

Baru is not exactly evangelical. He is selfish, irreverent, laid back and well-read, desperate to complete his manuscript.

“Twelve years ago, I started writing a manuscript and could not complete it. It stayed with me. It is my story - of an unfinished manuscript,” Khullar told IANS.

The writer thinks that the “25 and above” segment is his audience.

Writer Chanchaldeep Singh Sandhu, an upwardly mobile Germany-born Punjabi, has just published his urban love novel, “I Never Thought I Could Fall in Love”.

The campus romance features Ronny, the playboy, who thinks he has hit a jackpot when he has sex with Miss Fresher on the Fresher’s Night. But destiny seems to have its own plan and Ronnie falls in love. However, the journey from love to lust is not easy… Ronnie has to convince his lady love that he is no playboy.

“I can say only 10 percent of the book has been inspired by my own life, the rest is fiction,” Sandhu told IANS.

This is how the idea of writing a novel struck Sandhu.

“I had got my annual job appraisal and thanks to my boss, it was not on the better side of the bell curve. I was so frustrated that I shot a mail to him saying, ‘a bad boss and a good wife will make you successful one day’,” Sandhu said. To distract himself, Sandhu began to read a novel.

“After finishing it, I told my wife that I was feeling inspired to write,” the writer recalled.

Twenty-six-year-old software engineer Ravinder Singh’s novel, “But Then What Happened To Ravin”, is a sequel to “I Too Had a Love Story”, a contemporary tragedy.

The sequel begins from where the first one ended with Ravin’s tragic love life. It picks up the hero’s life when he is sent to Belgium on a project… and falls in love again.

“The first book was dedicated to the girl I could not marry. But the sequel is more fictional,” Ravinder Singh said.

The metro lit trend dates back to an Indian phenomenon - Chetan Bhagat - who gave India its first chick lit, “Five Point Someone” (2004), noted Kapish Mehra, publisher of Rupa & Co.

“Five Point…” was followed by a spate of light commercial young fictions by Bhagat like “One Night @ the Call Center” (2005), “The 3 Mistakes of My life” (2008), “2 States the story of my Marriage” (2009) and “Revolution 2020″, which will be released next month.

“These are basically urban stories. You can call them male equivalent of chick lit. They target across the spectrum - not only the big cities but readers in the smaller towns can identify with the books too,” Mehra told IANS.

“Anurag Mathur wrote ‘The Inscrutable Americans’ years ago in 1991 - in a similar vein,” Mehra said.

Three books published by Rupa & Co - “Resident Dormitus” by Vikas Rathi, “The Incredible Banker” by Ravi Subramanian and “Zero Percentile: Missed IIT Kissed Russia” by Neeraj Chibba - best symbolize the genre, Mehra added.

“The books appeal because of the stories and the fun element,” said Vaishali Mathur, senior commissioning editor of Penguin Books India, which has an imprint “Metro Reads” dedicated to light urban fiction.

“The youth between 18 to 25 have no time to devote to heavy texts. Their attention is diverted by Internet, Facebook and cell phones. They want books which are quick, funny and easy to read,” she told IANS.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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