EL James’s world-wide bestselling book Fifty Shades of Grey, has evoked differing opinions, from wow..to yuck. Among my immediate peers and avid book readers (mostly Indian), most have thought it to be worthless and not a book to be wasting money upon. Most of my peers have given up reading the part one of the book, post 5/10/100 pages.
The reaction of my peer-group avid-book reader friends made me realize, that boy, is EL James lucky that her book was not born in India! Had it been, it would never have achieved the stupendous success: it is part of publishing folklore, of how this self-published book, became a rage, thanks to friends recommending it to other friends. Umm, and here (my immediate cross-section of readers) most are being told not to anywhere near it. It would be doomed for sure.
Do I also hate it? I don’t; I am reading part 3, Fifty Shades Freed. Among my friends I am perhaps the only one who is still reading the book, it makes me feel almost weird. A friend succinctly asked me, “Are you worried, that you are continuing to read the book?” Now, what is it that has kept me going, is what I will write on a separate post, since I do not want to digress now.
Aha, but looks like I am not alone among my ilk; one of the leading newspapers in the country, The Times of India, reported recently of how the book was notching up sales in Delhi. Hmmm, now Delhi is a different ball game, since there is even a stage adaptation of the Fifty Shades of Grey running in the city, scripted by playwright Gopal Sharman!
Coming back to E L James being thankful that this is not an Indian publication: I am truly foxed, why in spite of being such an International hit, the book has not done anything much for the Indian readers, even the mommies? (After all it is touted as mommy-porn!) Do we have better refined tastes? We are discerning readers? Are we the true- feminists who hate the dominant romance? Or maybe, there is something else: Are we prudes?
We were invited for dinner at one of our friends’ residences. Though we are friends, this couple is not really in our peer group (in common parlance, they would be known as senior citizens). But then friendship knows no barriers: we get along famously. Post a sumptuous dinner, the hostess while graciously serving homemade dessert, casually asked me, “ Are you reading the book, which everyone is talking about?” I was taken by surprise, and for a moment did not know what she was talking about. But seeing the twinkle in her eyes and her naughty smile, I asked, “The Fifty Shades of Grey?” She chortled loudly and said, “Is it not such a outrageously naughty book?” My mouth almost fell open; here was my senior citizen friend (she had just celebrated her 60th birthday a few weeks back), enjoying a book, which most in my peer group were not too kicked about. Before you say, oh, she is senile, well; this senior citizen friend is an extremely well travelled, well read and an avid vintage art-collector too.
I said, “ I am amazed you like the book, because none of my peers in my immediate circle do”. She looked at me and said knowingly, “ We are a little prudish by nature, hence the dislike for something so very explicit and sexual”. Laughing loudly she said, “ I feel sad, when I read the book, I missed out on so much fun, in my youth! You are lucky you are reading it now, there is so much you can learn and do!” Now, that comment truly left me speechless!
The success of Fifty Shades of Grey seem to resonate Victor Hugo’s words..
“No power on earth can stop an idea, whose time has come”.