Literature Has To Be Controversial To Be Popular

The third session was about how important controversies are in making a book popular.

With references from Shakespeare, which not only contained vulgar songs and cheap jokes, but will always remain a favourite, this session, I understood will definitely be very interesting.Yes, controversy does make a work popular, but it can never be a benchmark for good literature.

Ranjan Bandhopadhyay, who has written highly popular books like “Kadambari Debi’s suicide note” which became controversial and famous, spoke about how he wrote it because the lady intrigued him and thus, he had to put it down in a fictional piece. He never thought that it would make so much news or become so popular. He looks for interesting pieces of information, which would get reader intrigued but does not do that to make the book scintillating. He has also written books about Vivekananda, which did not become controversial, but was loved nonetheless. He believes, that whether a book becomes popular or not, is not about controversies, and is totally dependant on individual authors.
Tilottama Mazumdar said, that controversy and literature cannot be anticipated and so, the author can never guess what becomes controversial and what doesn’t. Discussion and controversy is not necessarily negative. It is only when an author hurts the sentiments of a community or section of people, is the time when a danger arises. The publisher however, does look for certain elements of controversy because he needs to publish books that would sell for ages.

Swapnomoy Chakroborty, who has taken the road less travelled by and written books on transgenders, spoke about how some books, when they come in the news, only paves the way for betterment.

Kaberi Roychowdhury, a bold writer, currently residing in Bangladesh, has a readership that includes the youth. She says, that sometimes, even the publishers purposely create a controversy to highlight some particular author or work. She says that when someone writes a character they elevate the characters to a level where no one can identify them. Especially if that character has been written from life. They breakdown the character to a level where none of their loved ones would recognize them. Writers have to write forever: so for them, they need to find ways to survive in their craft. Sometimes there are scenes which might not be accepted by the world at large, but needs to be depicted by the writers to substantiate their point in the book. Raat bhor brishti was controversial but she did not understand it during the time of its release.

The session contained a healthy argument about controversies and literature. It opened up new ways of looking at the entire idea of controversies, which not necessarily is negative. In the end, any publicity is indeed a way of making a book famous, and that can definitely make a book more read than the usual.


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