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Books for Young Adults in India

Nilima Sinha

Not very long ago, while searching for Indian books for classes 11 and 12 we found just a few books that could be considered suitable for the older age group. Now, suddenly, there is a spate of books for young adults in the market. Intrigued and delighted to see the change, my colleagues and I set about reading as many as we could, with the idea of selecting a good title for the Author Category of the IBBY Honor List, 2011. As mentioned in an earlier article in The Book Review, Indian authors for children have at last emerged on the Indian scene, just as writers of adult fiction had done several years ago. The books were mainly picture books and read-aloud books for younger kids and fiction for the eight to twelve year age group. There were mystery-adventure, short story collections and fantasy galore for the latter group. It is a pleasant surprise to find that now the missing category of young adults, too, is being catered to, publishers having realized that it was necessary to fill the gap. Older readers may remember, as teenagers we were exposed to all that adults read. There was no fine distinction to separate the two categories. Whether it was Indian literature, with books by Premchand, Sharatchandra Chattopadhya, Tagore, Ashapurna Devi and others with their focus on social issues, or literature from the West, such as Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities and that perennial favourite of all teenagers, Gone With the Wind, they were loved by both adults and adolescents. As a fourteen year old, I remember swooning over Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy, and reading the above two classics so many times that long passages became engraved in my memory. Nowadays, of course, with adult fiction acquiring much greater depth and complexity, and containing explicit sexual details and descriptions, there is definitely a need for books for adolescents not mature enough to deal with adult issues. The teenager is a child poised on the threshold, not yet an adult, but no longer a kid, either. She is prepared to deal with serious issues, is curious about and interested in the other sex and mature enough to read about broader social, national and international subjects. At the same time, she clings to the delight, innocence and joy of being a child. A separate category for the coming-of-age, developmental needs of the ...

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