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Academic Reform through Campus Novels: An Indian Perspective

This paper attempts to show how the emergence of Campus Novels augurs well for the growth of English fictions in India particularly by bringing in some sort of academic reforms. Synonymous to ‘diary-writing’ or ‘coffeehouse-writing’ this sub-genre of social novel sometimes goes ahead of the other mainstreamfictions or classics in terms oftheiratypical successhaving sold a million copies worldwide within a few months of their publication. This is due to the fact that writers of Campus Novels often satirize the stereotypes of the academy paving the way for certain reforms.Because of this pragmatic and reformative approach,millions of youngsters have adored this new breed of novelrather than the social novels of Lawrence, Dickens or Hemingway.

Though Campus Novels in India date back to R.K.Narayan’s period when he wrote his The Bachelor of Arts (1937), they gottheir momentum with the unusual success of ChetanBhagat’sFive Point Someone in 2004. The fiction explores the darker side of IIT, one in which students having worked for years to make it into the institute – struggle to maintain their grades, keep their friends and have some kind of life outside studies. It was really an eye-opener for parents not to thrust their dreams on children and for youngsters to follow their dreams with open eyes and minds like the three main protagonists in the book.Many other contemporary Indian fictions on the same line like Above Average by Amitabha Bagchi, Mediocre but Arrogant by Abhijit Bhaduri, Bombay Rains, Bombay Girls by Anirban Bose, Joker in the Pack by Ritesh Sharma, and Keepoff the Grass by Karan Bajaj have been phenomenal in illustrating the intellectual pretensions in Indian universities and colleges.They have also turned ‘non-readers’ into ‘neo-readers’. The paper shows how in line with these books a good number of academic fictions have been brought out in India with different themes and different means preying on academic loopholes of Indian educational institutions and the dire need of change.

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