If you are Chetan Bhagat, ignore all of this and jump right to the end.
I’ve defended Chetan Bhagat during almost every outrage cycle. Examples here and here. I’ve even been called a fanboy. My friends will attest to that. I think he’s picked on unfairly for his views and people project their perception of his dumbness on every sentence he says—not unlike a certain young Gandhi. Perhaps there is even a tinge of envy in some critiques.
But I do think there are some things he just doesn’t get. When he talks about ideas, he’s too simplistic. (Anyone here likes memes?) And when he talks about “writing”, lord save us all.
The internet was alive with the sound of outrage when I woke up today. He’d written something over at Huffington Post outlining why he wasn’t popular in the West. We’ll set aside the irony of writing in the Huffington Post to complain about Westerners ignoring him. Let’s instead dive right into his column. It’s bad, it’s what makes him a bad writer and it’s so much fun editing what he writes! (His words in bold.)
English is the new caste system, complete with levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism.->English *proficiency* is the new caste system, complete with levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism.
To use “complete with”, there have to be a few more ways the metaphor works other than “levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism”. There aren’t here. So it’s not “complete with”; that’s all there is to it. Let’s instead try: English proficiency is the new caste system, with levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism.
Now the latter part of the sentence is really just explaining the metaphor, but we’ll let that slide in the interest of explanation.
However, because I write in simple English, my books have managed to be a bridge between Indians who speak English well and Indians who speak little English.
How are his books a bridge? A bridge connects two things. How are they connecting those two categories of readers? From what anyone can tell, it’s a bridge that starts from Indians who come from vernacular backgrounds and stays there. The only person that bridge is connecting his readers to is Chetan Bhagat. (And there’s nothing wrong with writing for people who don’t speak English in an ornate manner or with a few errors! Language is a tool for communication and if you’re communicating your thoughts across in words from that language, you’re speaking that language as far as I am concerned.)
Further, the phrase “Indians who speak English well” isn’t in contrast to “Indians who speak little English“. Who’s to say those speaking little English also speak bad English? They might speak perfect English; they could just be introverts.
Let’s instead try: However, because I write in simplified English, my books have managed to connect to Indians for whom English is not a primary language of thought.
I am fortunate to have a wide reach of readers, including Indians irrespective of age, gender, class or location.
“Reach” is geographical, so “range” works better. And “including Indians irrespective of” just sounds odd.
Let’s try this: I am fortunate to have a wide range of readers, who identify with my books regardless of age, gender, class or location.
All sects can read and enjoy my books.
I’m fairly certain he means religions here. So let’s make the previous sentence: age, gender, class, religion or location.
My simple stories are set in contemporary India and reflect society as it is today.
If you’re not face-palming already, I suggest you do so RIGHT NOW! What’s wrong with that sentence, you ask?
Contemporary India = reflect society as it is today, you silly verbose writer! That’s the whole point of inventing the word “contemporary”, so you don’t have to spell out what it means!
And that may be one reason why the West is not so interested in me.
“Not so interested” is odd phrasing. It’s like being a little pregnant. Since his whole piece is whining about lack of Western interest (Why is that still a thing? Why are we still craving for Western attention?), let’s go with: And that might be one reason why the West is not interested in my books.
I also changed “may” to “might” because it’s more pure, and “me” to “my books” because “me” sounds like the whining of a teenage girl who’s just being dumped for the first time in her life.
I write the actual reality of India
Unless Chetan Bhagat is literally scripting reality, let’s try: I write about the reality of India.
And “Actual reality” is the same as reality. If it’s not actual reality, it’s not reality.
My characters are looking for jobs while falling in love.
Nothing wrong with that sentence, but maybe that’s why they’re still looking for jobs?
Who wants to read about such Indians — those who work in multinational banks and shop in malls?
Ambiguous sentence. Are the Indians those who work in multinational banks and shop in malls, or is he posing the question to those Indians?
Let’s instead try: Who wants to read about such Indians who work in multinational banks and shop in malls?
Also, the answer: EVERY-FUCKING-ONE, if it’s written well and in engrossing prose!
The India that has sold abroad is typically India with lotus ponds and simple villagers.
Quick: tell me 5 instances of recent India-based art that were about lotus ponds and simple villagers?
The last thing we tried to sell abroad about simple villagers was Lagaan which didn’t win an Oscar because—you guessed it—the West wasn’t interested in our simple villagers.
Those who ride elephants and climb up coconut trees and that is all they want to do in life.
Doesn’t ring a bell either. WHERE IS HE GETTING ALL THIS STUFF FROM?
If there is a villager in my book, chances are he will be visiting a cyber café, checking his phone or trying to get ahead in life.
Not “or trying to get ahead in life“, try “and trying to get ahead in life”. Unless those three actions are mutually exclusive.
Don’t know if the West is ready for or interested in that India.
Yes they are, you fucking whiner! JUST WRITE IT WELL!
I write to bring about change in my country, towards the direction of economic progress
You’re either bringing about change in your country “towards economic progress” or “in the direction of economic progress”. What the fuck is “towards the direction of economic progress“?
Also, timeout! What’s with repeating the phrase “my country”? You’re not a ten-year old kid writing an essay. It’s “our country” once you’re old enough to write a decent sentence.
Oh wait ..
I wrap my easy-read stories
I wrap my easy-to-read stories
that is how I feel I can contribute towards my nation.
I don’t know what’s wrong with his direction sense but he needs to see someone about it. Let’s instead try: That is how I feel I can contribute to the nation.
He allowed his daughter to marry her boyfriend, ending a two-year long bitter, acrimonious opposition.
What’s acrimonious a synonym for? I’ll give you one guess.
The girl’s father even set up a stall in the wedding function, offering all guests a copy of the book 2 States
Formatting: The girl’s father even set up a stall at the wedding function, offering all guests a copy of the book 2 States.
Props though for calling it a wedding and not a marriage. See this is why I like him .. a little.
Perhaps this also partly explains limited awareness about my work in the West. I have never really aspired to that goal.
Wait .. what?
Then why the fuck did I read this badly written few-hundred word column on why the West is ignoring this awesome and revolutionary writer who shares a name with that other revolutionary, Bhagat, as if it were some conspiracy hatched at the 25th reunion of the 1980 batch of pretentious St. Stephen’s alumni?!?!
Seriously, what the fuck?
I’ll spell it out in less than a hundred words: The reason Westerners don’t love Chetan Bhagat’s writing is the same as why the Indian elite don’t. They’d rather read someone else they like better in the same time because no one has hours to waste on a book just so someone doesn’t accuse them of conspiring against this writer who is probably the fucking richest writer in India!
An underdog can whine about being a victim, not the most famous writer in India! So cut the crap, okay?
Until today I didn’t realize he had gone so deep into victimhood. I went over to his Twitter feed where looks like he loves to wallow in it.
Here’s his latest tweet, a retweet from @AdviceToWriters:
Like any passive-aggressive adolescent, the subtext here seems to be that the West ignores him therefore he is lonely (with just hundreds of millions of readers), and therefore he is exceptional?
And here’s a tweet he wrote, again today:
OK, what’s wrong with that metaphor? I’ll give you one guess.
HOW THE FUCK DO YOU FLY WITHOUT OPENING YOUR WINGS, YOU DIMWIT?!
I didn’t have the time or drive to scroll further down. What I saw was enough to convince me he’s the Deepak Chopra of writers.
Here’s what I’d like to say to Chetan Bhagat if he ever gets this:
Dude, honestly, I think you tell stories that people like and find interesting. That makes you a good *storyteller*. Don’t get caught up in this debate of whether you’re a good writer. There’s no reason for you to give a fuck about whether you’re a good writer. That is not what made you famous. And if that’s what you’re after, you can’t win it—atleast not the way you write right now. You’ll end up being mocked for bringing a butter knife to a lightsaber fight, you’ll feel victimized as a result, write about being victimized by identifying all the wrong reasons, and get mocked for it (and the writing) all over again. It’ll never end. Here’s what I’d recommend as a fellow human being:
Just stick with the storytelling part of things that you’re good at. It’ll save you loads of time and perhaps result in more content for your loyal readers. That content obviously adds value to their lives—and it is worth pursuing with all your efforts.
Let that be your legacy.
P.S. Please hire a good editor who proofreads everything you write—tweet, column or book. It’ll be worth the investment.