At last, the truth about those obscenely huge advances that our litpack is rumoured to be bagging from publishers abroad. Yes, it is true that authors are now being paid as much as a jaw-dropping £300 million (paid by Walt Disney for the film rights to A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books), according to a report in The Guardian. But the Indo-Anglian celebrities who shot into the limelight with inflated reports about their advances are nowhere in the big bucks race. Except Salman Rushdie, who ranks seventh on the list with the two million pounds advance he got for US rights of The Ground Beneath Her Feet. The only other Indian on the list is Pankaj Mishra trailing way behind Rushdie with a £150-million advance for a two-book deal, including The Romantics. The Guardian, citing a recent survey that shows that half of all writers earn less than the minimum wage and only one in 10 earns a living from writing, has a warning for bucks-bedazzled writers: don't give up that day job!
One litstar who seems to have left behind the million-pound book race is Arundhati Roy. Is she too busy fighting big dams and bombs to write another winner like The God of Small Things? "I hope to write another book like that," she said in a rare appearance at a book discussion of Out of the Nuclear Shadow.