Now on to the big questions. A books podcast? Why another, when there are so many, not to mention so many book review pages in all the newspapers?
I can think of three reasons. At least.
The first is the mismatch between the books covered by typical review sites and shows, and the ones we as readers read. If you’re someone who’s interested in reading, as I am, you probably veer between literary fiction, thrillers and genre fiction, poetry, non-fiction, history, poetry, comics, cooking/food, travel, and who knows what else. Not to mention all the newspapers and magazines you dip into. But mainstream book reviews focus on a very small subset of these, mostly literary and “important” fiction. For others - there are niche sites like cooking sites or shows, or maybe comic book reviews, that focus on only that category, and have specialized reviewers. But we’re normal readers, we want to judge all books as generalists. Bookasur tries to do that. It’s the same guy - me - who reads all these different books and gives you a consistent picture.
The second reason is the desi perspective that colours everything we Indians read. Nearly all of us - especially those who are reading this little essay in English - are multilingual in Indian languages. Whether or not we read books in those languages, we speak them at home, we watch movies in them, we forward Whatsapp jokes in them. Given that superbly rich stew of cultural influences and history, relying on purely western culture for cross references and critical points feels like a wasted opportunity. This is not to say that the show is going to be in Hindi or Kannada - but if we need to refer to, say, an Abbas Mustan movie when talking of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, we will.
The third is me (Am I allowed to say Teesre Badshah hum hai here?). Who’s me? I’m the guy in love with books and reading. The guy who’s been helping friends with book recommendations all his life. I’ve been doing book reviews for Deccan Herald and The New Indian Express for years, not to mention a bunch of other reviews on my own blog. I’m also the guy who’s had a horror novella published, with another on the way, so I’ve been on the other side of publishing. So you’re going to hear from someone who knows his stuff.
Here’s a fourth, bonus reason: Amazon and the internet and social media have brought us an overload of media. Every single book that’s released, and all the millions of published books, are out there at your fingertips. There’s no way you’re going to know about all of them. There’s no way you can read everything. You rely on recommendations and thoughts from other readers to select your next read. Fortunately, technology now also lets you take my voice and hear it tell you about books in the car, or on the bus, or before you sleep. Let me help you out here.
Worth giving it a whirl?