This posts follows on from the previous one: “why personal essays matter”.
Why is there no Indian publication that is promoting this art form?
I am not too sure. My hypothesis follows:
As a society, unlike the West, India values groups and communities more than the individual — so maybe that’s why memoirs and personal essays are not big?
Broader problem: personal essays are best suited to find a home in magazines, but magazine journalism in India is dead. What a tragedy.
Resources: you can’t produce high-quality writing by poorly paying writers. You must pay people well and push them to produce their best work. That’s a resource problem.
Editorial interest: I think English language journalism in India generally lacks good editors — editors with solid taste and skills to get writers to deliver what they need. You can’t produce a great magazine product without a good editor. The ones who are good at their job, perhaps, feel their talent is best used elsewhere: so much is going on in this country, just look at the political environment and our destabilised economy, and you want to work on stories about family trauma or the struggles of online dating? Seriously? (My answer: hell, yeah!)
Talent pool for creative non-fiction: emerging but still very small. Few great books published in this genre show that. Fifty Two showed us that Indian writers have that creative energy. It’s a matter of time and investing resources to cultivate talent. We must discover new voices, mentor them, and give them a platform. Applies as much to personal essays as to reportage-centric narrative nonfiction.
What do you think?