Today I’m very excited to write my first post from Dharamsala, India! I arrived last week (after two flights and a twelve-hour bus ride—whew) and I’ll be here teaching English for the next three months at a school for Tibetan refugees. It has already been an amazing experience, and I look forward to sharing glimpses of it with you here. Pictures coming soon!
Since most of my readers come to Word Cafe for content about writing and publishing, I’ll continue to post on those topics (next up, a fabulous guest post from sci-fi writer Michael J. Martinez). And as a way of merging these two worlds, I’ll also include glimpses of the book scene here in India.
On that note, here are a few of the titles I saw on the bestseller list at a W.H. Smith book store in New Delhi. WHS is a British chain that has opened branches in airports and train stations across India (as well as several other countries) and features a wide variety of Indian and international titles. Note that this list was for the English language version of each title.
Indian Author Bestseller List
The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi (#1); commercial fiction
Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi (#2); commercial fiction
What Young India Wants by Chetan Bhaghat (#6); nonfiction
The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das (#9); nonfiction
Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat (#13); commercial fiction
Techie at Heart by Karthik S. (#18); commercial fiction
The Secret Wish List by Preeti Shenoy (#22); women’s fiction/romance
Many of these titles are available outside India; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni actually lives in the U.S., and Gurcharan Das is an international bestselling author. The first two titles on the list caught my interest, as they had such a high profile throughout the store (they were featured as “Books of the Month” as well). Along with the first title in the series, The Immortals of Meluha, they are known as the Shiva Trilogy and have become the fastest-selling series ever on the Indian market. The stories are based on Hindu themes, and Tripathi seems to be a marketing genius, using first-chapter giveaways, high-quality book trailers and even an original album/soundtrack featuring recognized Indian artists for promotion. His film rights are represented by Creative Artists, a major Hollywood agency. The subject matter is probably a bit tricky for the international market (depending on how accessible the stories are for non-Hindus), but it will be interesting to see whether Tripathi finds an audience abroad. I’d certainly love to see an increase in multicultural themes/translated works on the U.S. market to reflect our diverse society.
Here are some titles from a second besteller list at W.H. Smith, featuring international authors. My understanding is that these were based on UK/international sales so they may not reflect Indian trends specifically.
The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth (#1); thriller
Robert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal (#3); thriller
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (#9); literary fiction
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (#12); crime fiction
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (#13); literary fiction
Fifty Shades Freed (#25), Fifty Shades Darker (#26); erotica [Can’t say I’m thrilled, but there you have it!]
Aleph by Paulo Coelho (#28); fiction/spirituality
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory (#30); commercial fiction