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Fast Forward 2014: Books

1. Informed helper in bookstores
Please don’t make a dog out of us who keeps on chasing its own tail. Know the book, know where it’s kept, or even if it’s in stock or not.

2. Case of the missing library
Let’s make our libraries a thing of the present: from David Sassoon to Asiatic. How about infusing them with a dose of culture?

3. Groom kid bookworms
When was the last time a grown-up author ever visited a school? The might of the pen should be demonstarted to young city minds.

4. Where are our Indian authors?
There’s a huge gulf between a Chetan Bhagat and Salman Rushdie. Will the real Indian English author stand up, please?

5. Literary festivals for Mumbai
We need more literary events having fancied Joseph Conrad and Kiran Nagarkar. A dialogue between regional to the global, maybe?

6. Pick the ‘Ignore’ genre
Let’s get experimental about poetry, drama, translations and short stories. These genres need a refreshing shot in the arm.

Today, fewer kids read compared to adults. Eighteen to 35-year-olds usually walk into my library. And the ratio is roughly 10 kids to 400 adults, which is disappointing. Kids are busy with tuitions or playing video games and so reading suffers. In the summer, they pick Manga comics while their parents force them to read Amar Chitra Katha (ACK). Kids’ TV channels air Japanese animation, and this has affected their imagination.



On another level, Indian comics and graphic novels need more humour. So far, we’ve been doing well with the slice-of-life genre but we are derivative in the superheroes genre -- it’s either mythological or anglicised, with Western visual language. We need to look beyond, and in the right places to rediscover the diversity that once existed in Indian comics.

I’d like to see comic events filled with comics by Indians, and less with merchandise. Awareness about comics is needed as many associate it with kids. We also need more public platforms, especially where writers and artists can connect. It’s hard to write and publish a comic in India. This should change. From writing to finding an illustrator, people are clueless because there aren’t any institutions around, or even mentors. Funding is tough; it’s like a fight every step of the way including distribution to procuring prints. In the West, people who write comics are celebrities, and make a lot of money just doing that.

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