Growing up in a conservative Indian town in the 1980s, Aravind Adiga devoured literature, most of it English, he says in an essay in The Independent.
"Mangalore, the coastal Indian town where I lived until I was almost 16, is now a booming city of malls and call-centres. But, in the 1980s, it was a provincial town in a socialist country. Books were expensive in those days, and few of us could actually buy them. The thing to do was to join a circulating library that would lend them out at a nominal rate (novels, two rupees a fortnight; comics, 50 paise).
Like most of my friends in school, I was a member of multiple circulating libraries; and all of us, to begin with, borrowed and read the same things. Up to the age of 10, you borrowed comics (mainly illustrated versions of the great Indian epics); later came your first novels, a boys' detective series called "The Hardy Boys". Girls read an equivalent series called "Nancy Drew".
When you grew out of the Hardy Boys, you started on the action novelist Alistair MacLean, whose fast-paced novels such as The Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare were given glamour by their big-budget Hollywood adaptations. My problems started when Alistair MacLean bored me. The owner of my favorite lending library suggested that I try a "woman's writer" instead: Agatha Christie. She was fascinating for a while, introducing me to the revolutionary idea that a killer could narrate a novel (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) before she bored me too."
Read the full piece here.
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