Apex Book of World SF Interview Series #7: Anil Menon
With exceptions like Vandana Singh, why do you think Indian speculative fiction isn’t as popular as it should be internationally? With the Internet and globalization, do you see that changing soon?
I think the problem has to do with access. You can’t form an opinion about tandoori chicken if you’ve never seen it, let alone eat it. It’s possible for a western reader to grow up without encountering a story by an Indian author along the way. So it’s something readers have to develop a taste for as adults. Unfortunately, a lot of our like/don’t-like preferences are wired-in by then.
At the same time, there simply aren’t enough desi spec-fic writers. Indian writers find it hard to participate in the marketplace. As in the first-world, it’s tough to make a living at writing, but third-world economies have much less surplus-value, so career-choices have a life-or-death quality. Western magazines can only tolerate a certain dosage of ethnicity, and there are few native magazines that will publish speculative fiction. There are hardly any local workshops to train new writers. There’s only a rudimentary Critical-Industrial complex; that is, there’s no real tradition of conventions, prizes, funding grants, retreats, POD presses, spec-fic conferences or fanzines. There are few desi editors and reviewers who understand the genre. So on and so forth. The situation is not unique to India, of course.
But I do see the internet and globalization changing the situation. Readers are much more adventurous; there’s a new class of readers who treat stories the way foodies treat food. And the internet has brought a lot of easy-to-set-up infrastructure. The future should be interesting. – Read the rest of the interview.
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