This has something to do with the narrowness of the social class that reads English for pleasure in India. But even within this sliver, publishers seem to aim their books at the tiny minority that’s willing to be bored witless in the name of art. The idea of fiction as guiltless diversion where the reader turns pages in search of reliable narrative pleasure, doesn’t seem to exist.
This matters because there’s something odd about a reading habit where the literary fiction you read grows out of the world you live in, but the popular fiction comes from elsewhere. Your Indian reader will turn from Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy and Allan Sealy to Stephen King, Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown and the assembly line consolations of Mills & Boon for entertainment. While the middle-class English consumer of Julian Barnes, Will Self and V.S. Naipaul shares a reading world with people who read formulaic romantic novels and genre fiction of all kinds— detective, horror, suspense—her Indian counterpart, far from sharing a reading world with people-not-exactly-like-her, has no idea what they’re reading.