National Bestsellers (read=load of crap)

What happened with me in last few months have kept me brimming with outrage over this new trend that has started in India. In my internship in Durgapur, West Bengal during the summer, I was a regular visitor at the Crosswords bookstore there. And I was appalled to see that nowadays all the major book retail chains across India have a special large section dedicated to “National Bestsellers”. And what do these ‘national bestsellers’ constitute? Pot-boilers, all stories invariably written about college life, romance, adolescent urges, crappy profs, booze, drugs, and ‘ye-dosti-hum-nahi-todenge’ stuff. Invariably, and without a single change, about these things. And what’s even worse, they are INVARIABLY (again) written by 20-somethings, who’ve completed their graduation(mostly engineers), or MBA and think they’ve ‘seen it all’ in their college life.
Damn! Chetan Bhagat has started a very horrific trend in India. I’ve seen some extremely rubbish novels in the National Bestseller section (one of them was named, Love Life and a Beer can) of Crosswords. Almost every damn graduate having grandiose dreams of being the next Chetan Bhagat, pours out his verbal diarrhea in novel form, and reputed publication houses like Rupa have gone on to the length of publishing ALL of these works. Most of them who think they’ve ‘been there, done that’, are those who’ve landed up good jobs after single-mindedly studying their way through 4 years of engineering without ever noticing a single girl or without ever getting high for a single time. Chetan Bhagat is one such prick.
Indian Publishing Industry and contemporary culture has gone to the dogs. The youth is not interested in what Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anita Nair etc are writing. No, they are more interested in the rocka-rolla life from authors who’ve never lived it, and sms lingo.
I am an IITian like Chetan Bhagat (but more like the 5-pointers he wrote about rather than he himself), and when I tell somebody about my writing aspirations, the first question they ask is: “Oh, like Chetan Bhagat?” Oh, how much my blood boils then…..

(An interesting story regarding this post: When this was first drafted, it was not even a blog-post. It was a comment :D. You can find it here. The blogpost by Sampada got me so worked up (as I had this thing going on in my mind for quite a while) that my comment got a bit ‘too’ long ;). Now as I looked at it again, I thought why not share it here on my space :). I could’ve made some more changes, and expanded it, but i guess i’m too lazy to do that )


14 thoughts on “National Bestsellers (read=load of crap)

    1. Mitostargazer Post author

      😀 I second your feelings…
      thanks Chintan 🙂
      this thing had been going on in my mind since this summer; I don’t know how I lost track of it in my mind. Thankfully, Sampada’s post reminded me that I was supposed to write some vituperation for Mr. Bhagat and the cult he has generated 😉

  1. Sampada

    Hey, I was going to suggest that you do write your own post, so glad to see this! 🙂

    I don’t have a problem in generic people/non-writers getting the chance to publish their works. In fact, that’s great. My problem is that these books are getting their day in the sun as representatives of Indian writing in English. Let’s call a spade a spade. But there are better writers and better novels out there. And Chetan Bhagat is the youth icon? Pfft.

  2. Spaceman Spiff

    I once read a book titled “Oh shit! Not again!” by Mandar Kokate. And as usual, it had the words “National Bestseller” on the front cover. I picked it up because I was in the mood for some light reading and I’m reading more of Indian authors these days.
    The book was so poorly written, that I ended up sending a mail to the publishers, asking them how they could publish a book that was so bad?! I was stumped! I mean, the guy had a pretty decent story to tell, but the writing was juvenile and full of grammar mistakes. What work are the editors doing then?
    You can’t really blame Chetan Bhagat. That guy had a brand new idea, of that to write about college life and his adventures. And it clicked! The ones to be blamed are the many million publishing houses who keep publishing books of such nature, probably following the saying “Make hay while the sun shines.” No matter how much critics pan his books, the fact remains that they sell. No no, I’m not an advocate of Chetan Bhagat. Just an unbiased reader. 🙂 I’ve read quite many books fashioned along the same lines, but not all of them are terrible. For example, have you read ‘Dork’ by Sidin Vadukkut? It’s a brilliant read!

    But ya, it really is sad how any and every book is passing off as a ‘National Bestseller’ these days. Sad…

    1. Mitostargazer Post author

      I have hardly read 2-3 ‘National Bestsellers’ (besides Chetan Bhagat’s books). I know his books are not bad, in fact they and the other NB have a wide chasm between them. but the point is he has started a trend which has grown up to monstrous heights. And yes, the publishers are most to blame for, who are busy cutting their hay in the sunlight. But the evening is coming soon in the Indian literature, and we have very few to light the lamps in the night. These NBs have become the fodder of the cattle that a large amount of India’s youth have become.

  3. prashant

    hey, i am the author of one of the (crappy) books you have mentioned. i have come out with one more book, would be great if you could review that.

  4. Pingback: Remembering: One year of blogging « Prairie Wind

  5. Muthu

    Hello guys,
    i had a thought running in my mind on reading some books, but the environment around me force to read such books u mentioned above only.

    Even i think the same as you people regarding those books, but if that is the case then which are the ones i can read about.

    I hope you guys will give me a better answer than any others

    1. Mitostargazer Post author

      Dear Muthu,

      There is a world full of quality novels out there, but we need to be able to separate wheat from the chaff, and considering the amount of chaff being heaped on us, it might not be so easy.
      I think the best way would be to start with modern Indian writers in English, like Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, or even R. K. Narayan.
      If you like fantasy books, and getting introduced to Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series might be the best thing for you 🙂
      It depends on your taste and predisposition. Good books are available in every genre.
      In any case, try to avoid the “National Bestsellers” section when visiting bookstores. Not that all the books there are crap. But a majority of them are, and it’s better to know what good literature is before trying to find out the good ones among the bestsellers.


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