Why the star biography is still a fail-safe literary formula

The biography has proved to be one of the most successful literary genres of all time. And of all kinds of biographical books, the ones that are read, and that sell, the most are life stories of celebrities. So it comes as no surprise that the star biography is still in great demand in the publishing world, and that established journalists and authors, along with major publishers, are doing their utmost to keep the biography sections of bookstores well-stacked. 

Dipa Chaudhuri, chief editor, Om Books International, talks about the popularity of this genre among today’s readers. “Stars worldwide connect to their audience through their larger-than-life personae that may be distinct from their actual lives. A biography, or an autobiography allows the readers to partially understand the foundation of star mythologies, and discover other half-truths about the subject,” explains Dipa. 

She continues: “Most artfully written biographies avoid falling into the trap of overlapping biographies—of the biographer and the subject. A personal favourite is Donald Spoto’s Marilyn Monroe: The Biography.  And autobiographies could take a leaf from Confessions by Saint Augustine. So, the biography/autobiography of a star—from cinema, politics, sports or any other sphere of public life—is not meant to be a ballad, hagiography or the record of a court chronicler. A living subject may or may not allow a scathingly honest account of his or her life depending on the cultural moorings, but reliving and sometimes willingly revising and altering  personal histories could be a cathartic process. A star who has passed on provides the leeway for a speculative reconstruction of his or her life without being around to either corroborate, challenge or censor the presentation. Much depends on a biographer’s ability and willingness to provide multiple perspectives, and the subject’s willingness to be open to public scrutiny.”

Christina Daniels is the author of…

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