Indian publishers wake up to new generation of homegrown thrillers

Readers increasingly swapping Agatha Christie and Dan Brown for compatriots with a focus on fast plots and happy endings: The Guardian

book stall Kolkata
A stallholder waits for the customers at a book market in Kolkata. Photograph: Piyal Adhikary/EPA

At the Om bookshop in a mall in southern Delhi, Prabeen Kumar has been watching the browsers for years. There are the young people who usually head directly for the love stories. There are the “mature” readers who go to the classics. And now a new category has arrived, in search of India’s new wave of thriller writers. “It is a big thing now. There are more and more liking. All sorts of people … gentlemen and ladies,” Kumar enthused.

The new wave of homegrown writers are climbing the country’s bestseller lists, challenging the dominance of international heavyweights such as Dan Brown, John Grisham and Tom Clancy, and even affecting the tenacious local taste for Agatha Christie.

“Indian thriller writing still hasn’t fully arrived but it is taking off. There’s huge potential,” said Ravi Subramanian, one of the bestselling authors.

Some thrillers sell more than 100,000 copies, a huge number in a country where, despite its size, relatively few books are bought. They combine swift-moving plots that stretch that bounds of credibility, some violence, very simple language and occasional sex scenes that are explicit by conservative local standards. Enough are now being published for a series of sub-genres to emerge: set in the worlds of crime, banking, journalism, politics and, of course, war.

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