Excellent post here by Chandrahas about Open magazine's slapdash approach to literary journalism. I've been a fan of Manu Joseph's writing for a long time (and was part of a jury that took approximately 45 seconds to give the Hindu Fiction Award to his novel Serious Men) - in his own work, he shows a sharp eye for detail as well as a natural talent for shaking up long-held notions and providing an off-kilter view of familiar things. But some of the magazine's recent editorial pieces about literature have read like watercooler chats gone awry; forced attempts to be sensationalistic for the sake of it, without thinking an argument through. (When someone sweepingly dismisses books that he hasn't actually read on the basis that the titles "speak for themselves" ... well, I'll just be polite and say that I sweepingly dismiss his rant after having at least done it the courtesy of reading it.) I hope the magazine becomes a little more discriminating soon.
(To Open's credit, it also ran this candid and to-the-point piece by Pramod Kumar KG, the director of the first Jaipur Literature Festival in 2006 - an event that Chandrahas and I attended back when the world was younger and more innocent. Here's a short interview I did with Pramod exactly five years ago today.)
And Chandrahas's observation about tabloidish journalism during the Jaipur lit-fest is spot-on too; more than once, I got the impression that young reporters had been given the brief to cut well-known authors down a peg or two because it would make for piquant copy. Tch.