The new phenomenon called young adult fiction!

From this year, Vodafone Crossword started awards for the children's section too and entries are works of children and teenage prose fiction or non-fiction.

According to Shreekumar Varma, whose "The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu" has been shortlisted for the Crossword award (Children's Award category), writers as well as publishers are taking young adult fiction seriously.

"When I was in Delhi a couple of months ago, I found there's so much more coming up for young adults. It has become a big market. The upside is that young readers are turning to books by Indian authors. The trend was to say 'we never read Indian authors, don't find anyone interesting'. Now a whole new genre has come into being in Indian publishing. I believe that's going to be a very strong focus from now," he told PTI.

Varma says he is almost jealous of the young adult reader who is "getting things we never dreamt of".

For Shoba Naidu, modern young adult literature in India is in its infancy but is growing.
"There is still a dependency on the West for modern stories to interest this segment.

Books for young adults rooted in Indian culture and ethos about growing up pains in the Indian milieu written by Indian writers are few and far between," the author of "On the Yeti's Trail" says.

"Publishers and writers are now realising that there is readership for young adult fiction. Indian publishers such as CBT and NBT were among the first to bring out fiction targeted at adolescents. Now, apart from small independent publishers, a few mainstream publishers like now Rupa, Puffin and Popular Prakashan among others are turning to this genre."

Monideepa Sahu, author of the fantasy novel "Riddle of the Seventh Stone", sees a phenomenal growth in the young adult literature in English segment in the past few years.

"New authors like me are being encouraged and efforts are being made by the Children's Book Trust, and events such as Jumpstart and Bookaroo, an annual children's book festival held every November in New Delhi, are also drumming up more interest in books for young readers. As for writers, we always took young adult fiction most seriously," she says.

"Desi young adult fiction so long was more a clumsy attempt between juvenile chick-lit and over-mature kiddie books, so the new crop is welcome. Vampires, ha-ha books and adventures are upon us and not a bit too late," says Bangalore-based author Shinie Antony.

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