A new Crossword bookshop is coming up on Hill Road. Ain't that wonderful?? Like the advent of multiplexes brought with it the 'multiplex movie' phenomenon, could the spread of chains like Crossword be ushering in a 'bookplex' one?
Certainly the kinds of books being written in English for Indians has undergone a change. The 80s and 90s saw the Salman Rushdie-Arundhati Roy variety off books which were based in India but written for the international audience - with a spillover Indian readership.
Today, you have a new generation of books and authors with no literary pretensions. They're just good timepass reads about people, places and things the urban Indian can connect with. And surprise! many are written by b school graduates. Which is what my piece 'A Novel Pastime' published in the latest Businessworld magazine looks at...
By day, they are investment bankers and brand managers. By night, they toil away at their keyboards, tapping into their own experiences to spin out slice-of-life stories that appeal to 'People Like Us'.
IIM Ahmedabad graduate Chetan Bhagat relived his IIT days in Five Point Someone. Swati Kaushal's stints at Nestle and Nokia provided rich fodder for Piece Of Cake, a light-hearted tale set in corporate India. And that's just the beginning. July 2005 sees the launch of Mediocre But Arrogant, a story of love and life in the fictitious Management Institute of Jamshedpur (MIJ).
You can read the rest of my story here (free registration required)
Bottomline: MBAs turning to writing is actually not that surprising because many Indian B-school graduates are simply exceptionally bright individuals who followed the easiest path available to them. Anyone who's been on an elite b school campus will vouch for the many potentially great singers, writers and film makers lost to the world of business.
Or then again - as these novelists prove - maybe not.