Do writers also need to be readers? Perhaps not in India
If you attend the Jaipur Literature Festival—in whatever capacity, as author, journalist or star-struck reader—you expect to pick up lots of quotable quotes: Erudite, highbrow ones, certainly, but a few ear-popping ones too. I didn’t have to venture far this year. During a session I was moderating, the words came at me from just two feet away. The other people on the panel were saying them, and most of the audience was cheering in response.
The session was titled ‘The Craft of the Bestseller’ and here are two quotes—both of which are by suave, hugely-popular fiction writers—that I thought were particularly intriguing:
“Solitude distracts me.”
This was by Ravi Subramanian, author of a successful trilogy of thrillers about bankers and banking. It was a part-response to a question I had asked: Does the new generation of ‘mass-market’ authors follow the accepted wisdom that writing is essentially a solitary profession? Or do they see it as more of a communal endeavour?
“I have never been a reader. I hadn’t read any book before I wrote my first novel.”
This was from Ravinder Singh, whose bestsellers include I Too Had a Love Story and Can Love Happen Twice?. He was one of the festival’s rock-star-like celebrities; groupies threw themselves at him, demanded selfies and cooed away during the question-and-answer sessions.