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erotica frenzy

Clit lit is the new chick lit

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To get an idea of how cutesy chick lit progressed into the deliciously badsounding clit lit, sample the quotes below:

"Just as you are? Not thinner? Not cleverer? Not with slightly bigger breasts or slightly smaller nose?" - Bridget Jones's Diary, 1996

Women are for friendship. Men are for fucking. - Sex and the City, 1997

I don't make love. I fuck hard. - Fifty Shades of Grey, E L James, 2012

Helen Fielding's daffy, thirty-something singleton heroine Bridget Jones has a pathetic love life but dreams of falling in love with her modern-day Mr. Darcy. After a few hiccups, she does.

Carrie Bradshaw and her New Yorker friends in Candace Bushnell's blockbuster Sex and the City are far more sexually adventurous. In one episode called "Are we sluts?", Miranda discovers she has the STD Chlamydia, feels morally compelled to inform all the men she has slept with in case they have it too. She makes a list. It runs into a few pages.

Now, E L James's virginal Anastasia Steele has taken sex to a whole new kinky level, beyond passion and promiscuity. Her Darcy is rich and handsome, and armed with a whip and blindfold. Not only does James want to tell you all about it and describe every moan, more than 30 million men and women from Birmingham to Bandra to Brooklyn have paid good money to listen in to the sounds of the obsidian-eyed Christian Grey spanking and whipping young Anastasia into sexual submission. Kink Inc. has never had a better season.

So whatever happened to smart, sassy Chick Lit that martini-slugging, shoe-shopping, spasoaking women loved to read? Are these erotic novels that border on the pornographic and thrive on sadomasochism, bondage, orgies and kinky sex games a progression from their tamer, chick lit cousins? Or are they symbolic of a larger change in mindset?

"A stiletto and a cupcake on a pink jacket used to guarantee that your novel would fly off the shelf, " writes Adam Sherwin in The Independent. "But now publishers are asking if the 'chick-lit' genre is exhausted after a spectacular slump in sales. " The change has been worldwide. In India too, publishers are writing the obituary of 'sex, shoes and shopping' sagas. "Chick Lit has been there, done that, " says Nandita Aggarwal, editorial director, Hachette India. "Unless the stories are re-invented as chick lit business/crime, they're run-of-the-mill tales of singletons waiting for Mr. Right or about finding themselves. " Same ole, same ole in other words.

In India, publishers are keen to feed the erotica frenzy. Tranqebar, which brought out Electric Feathers - the first erotic anthology of South Asian writers in 2009 - is issuing a second installment later this year. The new Aleph Book Company is coming out with Tamil Summer and Other Erotic Tales by Aranyani in early 2013. At the feminist publishing house Zubaan, Rosalyn D'Mello is editing Venus Flytrap, an anthology of erotica written by women. Zubaan's senior editor Anita Roy says the idea is to tap into India's rich tradition of erotic writing in various regional languages. "We wanted a collection that wasn't confined to stories in urban settings by contemporary authors, but one that traced this rich lineage over generations, " she says. "Also, as a feminist publishing house, we'd like to explore erotic writing not limited merely to a woman having sex but that moves beyond the sheer physicality and views the erotic experience through texture, smell, etc. "

Simon & Schuster has bought the rights to Beautiful DISASTER by Jamie McGuire, who comes highly recommended - by no other than writing group friend E L James - and will launch the book in India next month. The book has already sold 200, 000 copies in the West, and Rahul Srivastava, the publisher's marketing manager in India, is confident it will fly in India as well. "The age group for erotica is now as low as 16 years with Fifty Shades opening up the segment, " he says. "It might be considered a fad, but is going to continue for some time and most publishers will expand this category. In the US, for instance, most publishing houses have imprints or series of titles in this segment. "

One important reason for the sexy sales is the arrival of the ebook, a gadget that allows women to enjoy erotica safe from prying eyes. As 42-year-old teacher Rakhi Sen says, "Reading naughty books on an iPad or Kindle lends the experience a delicious anonymity. It's wicked, like a turn on! And, hey, why should boys have all the fun?"

Exactly the point made by the celebrated vampire novelist Anne Rice, who recently said that women are sexual beings too and should be able to indulge their sexual fantasies without being made to feel ashamed or slutty. Rice's erotic version of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale is being reissued by her publishers to cash in on the Fifty Shades phenomenon. In her retelling, the prince wakes Beauty with more than a kiss. "He mounted her, parting her legs, giving the white inner flesh of her thighs a soft, deep pinch, and, clasping her right breast in his left hand, he thrust his sex into her. " Whether this literary Viagra can sustain sales and readers' imagination or not, only time will tell. Until then, what can we say except, bring it on.

Kundu has written a lad lit novel titled 'You've Got The Wrong Girl'

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