January 2015 Posts

“The prize is right?” ( 1 February 2015)

Literary Prizes( My lead article in The Hindu on literary prizes in India was published online on 31 January 2015 and in print on 1 February 2015. Here is the url: http://www.thehindu.com/books/literary-review/authors-publishers-and-members-of-award-juries-discuss-if-indian-literary-prizes-set-literary-standards/article6842116.ece I am also c&p the story below.)

Do Indian literary prizes set literary standards? Authors, publishers and members of award juries discuss the issue.

Literary prizes are of many kinds. Some focus on texts, some on authors. Some are meant to encourage young writers, some to recognise achievement. Most of the prizes now — Sahitya Akademi (Rs. 1 lakh), The Hindu Prize (Rs. 5 lakhs), The Crossword Book Award (Rs. 3 lakhs for each of the four jury awards and Rs.1 lakh for the popular award), Shakti Bhatt First Book Award (Rs. 2 lakhs), Tata Literature Live!, Muse India Translation Award (Rs. 30,000), and The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature ($50,000) — are for books. But bigger ones like the Jnanpith Award (Rs. 11 lakhs) are for authors. This is also true of Kuvempu Award (Rs. 5 lakhs), the Gangadhar Meher National Award for Poetry (Rs. 50,000) and Kusumagraj National Award for Literature (Rs. 1 lakh).

Both invite attention and prestige to books and authors. In some cases, the money helps too, as most authors cannot live on their writing. As Jerry Pinto, winner of The Hindu Prize 2012, says, “… awards are important because they help writers get through lean patches, encourage them sometimes, open out spaces where they can write and make placing the next book easier.”

Literary prizes are announced in phases — a longlist, a shortlist; finally the winner. In India, most longlists consist of all the books submitted and not, as is usually expected, an initial pruning of submissions by the jury. The logistics involved in organising a prize are daunting. The administrative committee has to select a jury for every category in the award and then send out a call for books. According to R. Sriram, who founded and manages the Crossword Book Awards, “The expenses involved (cost of prize + cost of jury + logistics) can be measured roughly as four times the value of prize money (1:4). If the award ceremony is a standalone event (The Crossword Book Award) and not part of a literary festival (the DSC Prize is a part of Jaipur Literature Festival and The Hindu Prize is a part of Lit for Life), then the costs escalate.”

From 2016, the DSC Prize will not announce the winner at JLF (as in the past). Instead the announcement will be made at another South Asian country in line with the prize’s essence. Every now and then rules are tweaked as a response to the time, but even now self-published books are not eligible to apply for most of these awards.

For an award to be perceived as fair — putting the spotlight on an author and writing, setting a new literary standard — the process begins with the selection of the jury. The members should not have a conflict of interest with the nominated books, authors or publishing houses. This is never an easy task in India, since the world of publishing professionals is small and interlinked. But it is possible. Ensuring an independent jury with no vested interest in the books or authors being considered for the award has a positive domino effect. Nilanjana Roy, author and book reviewer who has been on many juries, says “Juries are at their best when they discard likeability or political correctness, and try to reach for the best writing of the year, however that’s defined — the most original, the most beautifully crafted, the most disquieting.”

A jury selecting an author/book purely on merit, judging it among its peers and tradition it operates within, will have a real impact on sales; readers are discerning and will respect the decision. It also helps strengthen the brand of the literary prize, the publishing firm and the author. Given perception is reality, it is better to manage perceptions. As author and poet Satchidanandan, who has been on the jury of several awards, points out, “On the whole, these awards have been fair but for occasional lapse of judgment. The subjective element is inevitable, but it is generally a jury of three to seven members who debate and decide. In an ultimate sense the awards reflect the taste of the times and may not have a lasting value.”Jaya Bhattacharji Rose

Sometimes there is a contrast between what the jury selects and the readers expect. For instance, bestselling author Ravi Subramanian has won the Economist Crossword Book Award (Popular Choice) twice in 2012 and 2013 and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award for Readers Choice (2008), but never a jury prize. This distance between the jury selection and the market tastes is echoed by noted writer Tabish Khair’s experience. “While I have been shortlisted for around half-a-dozen prizes in India, I have won only one: the All India Poetry Prize, which is the only major prize in which all the entries are anonymous,” he says.

Otherwise publishers, editors, authors, literary agents, booksellers agree that there is no real impact of sales after an Indian literary prize is announced. The inevitable comparison is with international prizes such as the Man Booker, the Pulitzer and the Nobel where there is a noticeable surge in book sales in the local market after the winner is announced. According to Caroline Newbury, VP, Marketing, Penguin Random House, “The gap in the effect they have on sales is possibly because there is more recognition for some of the longer-established overseas prizes.”

Having said that, Karthika V.K., publisher, HarperCollins India, says “[An award] is very important because in a crowded marketplace it marks out a book and its author as special and directs the attention of readers and booksellers to it. The increased visibility and buzz around it helps sales and also helps publishers promote the writer’s past and future books.”

An award for a translated book has a simultaneous impact in two languages says Mini Krishnan, editor-translations, OUP. “A classic case is Bama’s Karukku translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom. That Crossword Prize in 2001 changed Bama’s life. I think there must be over 100 MPhils on the book and many Tamil Dalit works were picked up for translation in English after that. …When a translation wins a prize, the sales of the original also picks up.” Literary prizes in India are few. They help recognise writers in many languages and styles. But there is room for more awards in different categories — women, picture books, illustrators, translators — and also genres like crime, business, spiritual, self-published and graphic novels.

Payal Kapadia, Crossword Award 2013

The Crossword Award 2013 for Wisha Wozzariter completely changed my life … from being invited … as a speaker to the Jaipur Lit Fest, from Bookaroo and the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival and Litomania. The award instilled confidence in my publishers, Penguin, who signed me on for a two-book series and made it their lead children’s title for 2014. The award also made other major publishers sit up and notice my writing… I think winning such a credible and reputed award has done wonders for my career and for how seriously I am taken. Book sales are only a small part of what it means to win such a prestigious award.

Anees Salim, The Hindu Prize 2013

Since bagging The Hindu Prize, Vanity Bagh has been selling quite well. In fact, it’s been selling well, since the shortlist was announced. Post The Hindu Prize, it has been reprinted twice. And the French edition will be out this year, with a Malayalam translation soon to follow. I think the award created a lot of interest in the book.

Cyrus Mistry, DSC Prize 2013

Very glad I won the DSC Prize last year. However, with hindsight, I have to say that the concomitants of any award — excessive media attention, invitations to literary festivals etc — are a major distraction for me. They don’t make it any easier to write that next book.

31 January 2015 

Literati – Kids and reading ( 1 February 2015)

Jaya Bhattacharji RoseMy monthly column, Literati, in the Hindu Literary Review was published online ( 31 January 2015) and will be in print ( 1 February 2015). Here is the url http://www.thehindu.com/books/literary-review/literati-a-look-at-the-world-of-books-publishing-and-writers/article6842119.ece. I am also c&p the text below. )

One day a mother asked me how she could get her sons to read. I wondered if the children were off picture and pop-up books too. The mother said, “They are too old for pop-up books! They are in kindergarten.”

In January, Scholastic Inc. published Kids & Family Reading Report (Fifth edition) based on a survey conducted in the US.., but some of the results are valid worldwide. Reading out aloud to children regularly kindles an interest in books, unleashes their imagination, makes them curious and introduces them to a variety of cultural indicators. Children aged six and above began to show signs of easing away from reading for pleasure. A possible reason is that adults want the children to be “independent readers” and so stop reading out aloud. Eighty-three per cent of children across age groups say they love(d) or like(d) being read to a lot — the main reason being it was a special time with parents. With an older age group of children (ages 12-17) who are frequent readers, it was noticed that they read a book of choice independently in school, relied upon e-reading experiences, had access to a large home library, were aware of their reading level and had parents involved in their reading habits.

Ninety-one percent of children aged 6-17 say, “my favourite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.” The majority of kids aged 6-17 (70 per cent) say they want books that “make me laugh.” Kids also want books that “let me use my imagination” (54 per cent), “tell a made-up story” (48 per cent), “have characters I wish I could be like because they’re smart, strong or brave” (43 per cent), “teach me something new” (43 per cent) and “have a mystery or a problem to solve” (41 per cent). While the percentage of children who have read an e-book has increased across all age groups since 2010 (25 vs. 61 per cent), the majority of children who have read an e-book say most of the books they read are in print (77 per cent). Nearly two-thirds of children (65 per cent) — up from 2012 (60 per cent) — agree that they’ll always want to read books in print even though there are e-books available. Heartening news for publishers!

At Digital Book World Conference 2015 (January 13-15, 2015), New York, Linda Zecher, CEO, Houghton Mifflin, said, “You can’t serve content to children, you have to curate.” Mixing a variety of books for younger readers is important — picture books, pop-up books or even explosive pop-up books and poetry. Sudeshna Shome Ghosh, Editorial Director, Red Turtle, says, “With simple words that may have repetitions or rhymes and pictures, these books are easy to reread and even remember by heart. Even as a child grows older, trickier concepts are easier introduced through picture books (where do babies come from, how people/things are same and different, concepts of diversity, human emotions etc.)”. Imprints that specialise in graded reading are Puffin India, Hole Books/Duckbill Books, Read it yourself with Ladybird, Banana Storybooks/Egmont Publishing, Usborne Young reading, Let’s read!/Macmillan, I Can Read!/Harper, Step into Reading/Random House, and Scholastic Reader.

In India, children are fortunate to be exposed to a multi-lingual environment. It is not always easy to locate a single publishing list that will whet all appetites. Instead it has to be “curated” from the moment infants are given cloth and board books and flash cards. Some books for all ages that “work” splendidly are the late Bindia Thapar’s Ka Se Kapade Kaise (Tulika Books); Anushka Ravishankar, Sirish Rao and Durga Bai’s One, Two, Three! (Tara Books), Devdutt Pattanaik’s Pashu: Animal Tales from the Hindu Mythology, Puffin Books; H.S. Raza’s Bindu with Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai (Scholastic India); What a song! A Bundelkhandi Folk Tale (Eklavya Publication); Rabindranath Tagore’s Clouds and Waves (Katha); Ruskin Bond’s Tigers for Dinner: Tall Tales (Red Turtle) and Nury Vittachi’s The Day it Rained Letters (Hachette India).

As adults we like books that have “pictures”. Few like to admit to the truth. So we disguise it with our preference for heavily illustrated books, photo books, coffee table books and to some extent graphic novels. So why is it with our children we are in a hurry for them to read books that border on the “educational”?

31 January 2015

Anita Anand, “Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary”

Sophia Duleep SinghAs far as her place in history is concerned, Sophia was perhaps her own worst enemy. She never sought glory and disliked speaking in public. Before her death, when asked to contribute to her entry in Who’s Who, Sophia Duleep Singh’s was one of the briefest in the book. Under ‘interests’ she wrote just one line: ‘The Advancement of Women’.  (p.378)

Sophia Duleep Singh was the granddaughter of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, SherePunjab, The Lion of the Punjab.  He was the king who was crowned Maharajah or supreme king, of the new Sikh Empire. It was his empire that Queen Victoria wanted …and got, along with the Kohinoor diamond.  His son, Duleep Singh, was an infant when his father died. His mother was appointed regent but by the time he was fourteen he had moved to the court of Queen Victoria in London. For the rest of his life, except for a couple of visits to India, he remained abroad. Sophia Duleep Singh was born in 1876 to a family that was very well off, except their fortunes declined quite rapidly thereafter. Duleep Singh was frittered away their fortunes, their possessions were auctioned and he abandoned his family for his mistress and moved to Paris. Despite all this, Sophia was well provided for. Her godmother was Queen Victoria.

The few years she spent as being extremely popular on the social circuit, ordering her dresses in the latest fashion from Paris and breeding dogs, especially Pomeranians in the grace and favour apartment Sophia had been given at Hampton Court by her godmother. Then she made her first trip to India. It was a turning point for her. Upon her return she set up the Lascar’s Club where more than 5,000 lascars availed of the facilities. But it was with the Women’s Society for Social and Political Union, a suffragist group, that she became the fierce feminist she was. She refused to pay taxes, marched to Parliament and did not take part in the census, all the time demanding equal rights and vote for women. She part of many violent incidents involving the police and the suffragettes but remained unafraid. Later she moved to the countryside, taking in war evacuees during World War II and died there in 1948.

Anita Anand is a seasoned journalist who has a big advantage in writing this biography — collecting and verifying facts for a story. She has spent a long time researching, speaking to people, including those who knew Sophia, and reading documents in the British Library. To piece together a woman’s life is never easy since there is always a paucity of information. Yet Sophia Duleep Singh  left a paper trail but till now little had been really said or documented about her life or even her involvement in the suffragette movement unlike Emily Pankhurst. Hence Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary is a remarkable achievement of using reliable existing information, verifying it and then putting it together into a coherent narrative. There are moments when the book could have been edited a bit more since Sophia does not really mark her presence in the book till p.168. ( Here is a reviewer who could not read beyond p.175: http://www.dailyo.in/art-and-culture/sophia-dileep-singh-how-to-torture-the-reader/story/1/1319.html ) Till then it is fascinating in its account of Sikh history but a little cumbersome when it comes to retelling of details about their life in the English countryside and of the young princes and princesses, then the narrative takes off once more. It is as if the author is a little concerned about yoking together all that she has unearthed in her research rather than leave anything out. There were moments when I was dipping into A. N. Wilson’s Queen Victoria ( 2014) to understand facts of this Indian princess’s biography, especially for the period set in the nineteenth century. Having said that Anita Anand has put together a fine biography of a women little understood till now.

Anita Anand Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary Bloomsbury, 2015. 

26 January 2015

Helen Oyeyemi, “Boy, Snow, Bird”

Boy Snow Bird

I read Boy, Snow, Bird . It is a fascinating tale set in 1950s USA, when racism was rampant, especially towards the people of colour. This story is also about the racism experienced by even those who were fair skinned and light haired by their own people.  At the same time it is magnificent but disquieting retelling of the Snow White fairy tale and the wicked stepmother. What comes through in the novel are strong portraits of the women. The strength is evident in their relationship with each other and not necessarily in terms of the challenges they experience in society and overcome them.

This is 29-year-old Helen Oyeyemi’s fifth novel. It is extraordinarily powerful and worth reading. She exhibits the maturity of a much older writer. The confidence with which she plays with myth, fairytale, and magic while placing the story in a moment of history is astounding. The storytelling too never gets dull. In some of her interviews she remarks upon the powerful novels that have left an impact on her. Usually by making her stomach recoil. This is exactly what she achieves with Boy, Snow, Bird.

Here are a couple of interviews with her: Helen Oyeyemi: ‘I’m interested in the way women disappoint one another’ ( 2 March 2014,  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/02/helen-oyeyemi-women-disappoint-one-another) and An Interview With Helen Oyeyemi: “Nothing Happens Without My Teapots” ( 10 March 2014, http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexanderchee/an-interviews-with-helen-oyeyemi-nothing-happens-without-my#.jdJO6oP70 )

26 January 2015

Who will win the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature? (13 January 2015)

DSC shortlistAccording to the vision statement, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature celebrates the rich and varied world of literature of the South Asian region. Authors could belong to this region through birth or be of any ethnicity but the writing should pertain to the South Asian region in terms of content and theme. The prize brings South Asian writing to a new global audience through a celebration of the achievements of South Asian writers, and aims to raise awareness of South Asian culture around the world. This year the award will be announced on 22 January 2015, at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Diggi Palace, Jaipur.

The DSC Prize for South Asian Shortlist 2015 consists of:

1. Bilal Tanweer: The Scatter Here is Too Great (Vintage Books/Random House, India)
2 Jhumpa Lahiri: The Lowland (Vintage Books/Random House, India)
3. Kamila Shamsie: A God in Every Stone (Bloomsbury, India)
4. Romesh Gunesekera: Noontide Toll (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, India)
5. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi: The Mirror of Beauty (Penguin Books, India)

( http://dscprize.com/global/updates/five-novels-make-shortlist-dsc-prize-2015.html )

The jury consists of Keki Daruwala (Chairperson), John Freeman, Maithree Wickramasinghe, Michael Worton and Razi Ahmed.

All the novels shortlisted for the award are unique. They put the spotlight on South Asian writing talent. From debut novelist ( Bilal Tanweer) to seasoned writers ( Jhumpa Lahiri, Romesh Gunesekera and Kamila Shamsie) and one in translation – Shamsur Rahman Faruqui, the shortlist is a good representation of the spectrum of contemporary South Asian literature in English. Three of the five novelists– Jhumpa Lahiri, Romesh Gunesekera and Kamila Shamsie–reside abroad, representing South Asian diaspora yet infusing their stories with a “foreign perspective”, a fascinating aspect of this shortlist. It probably hails the arrival of South Asian fiction on an international literary map. The three novels — The Lowland, Noontide Toll and A God in Every Stone are firmly set in South Asia but with the style and sophistication evident in international fiction, i.e. detailing a story in a very specific region and time, culturally distinct, yet making it familiar to the contemporary reader by dwelling upon subjects that are of immediate socio-political concern. For instance, The Lowland is ostensibly about the Naxalite movement in West Bengal, India and the displacement it causes in families; A God in Every Stone is about an archaeological dig in Peshawar in the period around World War I and Noontide Toll is about the violent civil unrest between the Sinhala and Tamils in Sri Lanka. Yet all three novels are infused with the writers’ preoccupation with war, the immediate impact it has on a society and the transformation it brings about over time. The literary techniques they use to discuss the ideas that dominate such conversations — a straightforward novel (The Lowland), a bunch of interlinked short stories narrated by a driver ( who is at ease in the Tamil and Sinhala quarters, although his identity is never revealed) and the yoking of historical fiction with creation of a myth as evident in Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone. All three novelists wear their research lightly, yet these novels fall into the category of eminently readable fiction, where every time the story is read something new is discovered.

Bilal Tanweer who won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014 for his wonderful novel, The Scatter Here is Too Great. Set in Karachi, it is about the violence faced on a daily basis. (Obviously there is much more to the story too!) Whereas Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s novel The Mirror of Beauty, translated by him from Urdu into English is primarily about Begum Wazir Khanam with many other scrumptious details about lifestyles, craftspeople, and different parts of India. It is written in a slow, meandering style of old-fashioned historical fiction. The writer has tried to translocate the Urdu style of writing into the English version and he even “transcreated” the story for his English readers—all fascinating experiments in literary technique, so worth being mentioned on a prestigious literary prize shortlist.

Of all the five novels shortlisted for this award, my bet is on Kamila Shamsie winning the prize. Her novel has set the story in Peshawar in the early twentieth century. The preoccupations of the story are also those of present day AfPak, the commemoration of World War I, but also with the status of Muslims, the idea of war, with accurate historical details such as the presence of Indian soldiers in the Brighton hospital, the non-violent struggle for freedom in Peshawar and the massacre at Qissa Khwani Bazaar. But the true coup de grace is the original creation of Myth of Scylax — to be original in creating a myth, but placing it so effectively in the region to make it seem as if it is an age-old myth, passed on from generation to generation.

13 January 2015

 

Shashi Deshpande, “Shadow Play”

Shadow PlayHaving read Shadow Play, I am of the firm opinion that Shashi Deshpande is brilliant at observing, describing and writing about women –their situation, relationships, nudging readers to notice many of the things women leave unsaid or half said. Shashi Deshpande is also wonderful at writing about children. Once I read an interview with her where she said she began to write soon after she became a mother. Shashi Deshpande is familiar with and is empathetic to the space women occupy in society in a manner that few have.  Yet it may be time she discarded the need to use a fictional space like a novel to pour out her heart about the status of women and children in India, especially of the middle class. Her years of experience and anecdotes would be far more effective in non-fiction writing. Otherwise the yoking together of her passion for analysing and commenting upon gender equations with fiction seems very forced.

Shadow Play has been shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2014. ( http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/shortlist-of-the-six-novelists-of-the-hindu-prize-2014/article6471245.ece .) The award will be presented by Justice Leila Seth n 17 January 2015 in Chennai.

Shashi Deshpande Shadow Play Aleph Book Company, An independent publishing firm promoted by Rupa Publications India, 2013, Delhi. Hb. pp. 312 . Rs. 495.

12 January 2015 

JaipurBookMark speakers profiles

bookmark-logo

JaipurBookMark is a B2B conference organised at Narain Niwas, Jaipur. It runs parallel with the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on the 21 – 22 January 2015. The programme and registration details are available at: http://bit.ly/1KxRcZx 

Aditi Maheshwari holds Masters degrees in English literature (Hansraj College, Delhi University) and Business Management (Strathclyde Business School, Scotland) and a pre-doctoral/ M.Phil. degree in Social Sciences (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai). She also holds a diploma in Public Relations and Advertising. She heads the Department of Copyrights and Translation at Vani Prakashan and is the Managing Trustee at Vani Foundation.

Ajit Baral, an alumnus of the International Writing Program-2011, Iowa University. Ajit Baral is the author of Lazy Conman and Other stories (Penguin, India), Interviews Across Time and Space (FinePrint). He is the co-editor of New Nepal, New Voices (Rupa, India) and the editor of First Love (in Nepali). He has contributed articles, book reviews and short prose pieces to national and international magazines, journals and book forms. He used to coordinate the literary supplement of Nagarik, Akshyar, the first stand-alone literary supplement in Nepal. He runs an independent bookstore, Bookworm and is the co-founder of a Kathmandu-based publishing house, FinePrint and the director of Nepal’s first-ever international literature festival, Nepal Literature Festival.

Alberto Manguel is a Canadian writer, translator, editor and critic, born in Buenos Aires in 1948. He lives in a small village in France, surrounded by more than 40,000 volumes. He has published several novels, including News From a Foreign Country Came, and All Men Are Liars, and non-fiction, including A History of Reading, The Library at Night and (together with Gianni Guadalupi) The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. He has received numerous international awards, among others the Order of Arts & Letters from France, and is doctor honoris causa of the universities of Liège and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge.

Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy — The Immortals of Meluha (2010), The Secret of the Nagas (2011) and The Oath of the Vayuputras (2013) — quickly became the fastest selling book series in Indian history. His books have been translated into 14 Indian and International languages. Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100, he has also received the Society Young Achievers Award for literature, Radio One’s Indian of the Year award and PRCI’s Communicator of the Year award in 2013. Amish is a graduate of IIM-Calcutta and worked for 14 years in the financial services industry before turning to full-time writing. He lives in Mumbai with his wife Preeti and son Neel.

Prof. Apoorvanand teaches at the Department of Hindi, University of Delhi. He is a literary and cultural critic. He also writes on contemporary issues. He has been associated with various committees on school and university education. Presently he is the editor of Aalochana, a journal of criticism.

Arpita Das is a Publisher-Editor based in New Delhi. She owns the indie publishing house YODA PRESS and has recently co-founded the self-publishing start-up AuthorsUpFront. She is a believer in book culture and writes in her free time.

Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest selling English fiction authors. He has written several bestsellers (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key). He has also recently co-written an international thriller with James Patterson that hit the New York Times bestsellers list. Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and winner of the Crossword Popular Choice Award, Ashwin lives in Mumbai.

Atiya Zaidi holds a post graduate degree in English Literature. She has done a Publishing course from Yale University. She is the Publisher with the largest national publisher, Ratna Sagar. She has 26 years of experience in writing and preparing books for children, her specialization being ELT (English Language Teaching) Material. She also creates course material for social sciences, primary Maths and primary Science. Atiya Zaidi has presented papers at international conferences, on ELT and learning methodology. She is on the faculty of two major publishing courses. She is a founder member of the FICCI Publishing Cell.

Prof. Avadhesh Kumar Singh (Ph D), has been Vice Chancellor, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad. Thereafter, he was Convener, Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat, Government of Gujarat. He has been Director, School of Translation Studies & Training, IGNOU, New Delhi and Director (i/c) Indian Sign Language & Research Centre (ISLRTC), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment at IGNOU. His areas of interest include literatures in Indian languages, comparative poetics, contemporary literary theory and criticism, translation and interdisciplinary studies. He has published papers in various anthologies, national and international journals. He has worked on various UPSC, UGC, DEC and NAAC Committees. Since 1994, he has been Editor, Critical Practice, a biannual journal of literary and critical studies.

Bharti Sinha has a Post Graduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Mysore University. She is the MD of Bharti’s Center of Learning & Development which has 26 weekend workshops designed as a curtain raiser to various career opportunities.

Bikash D. Niyogi, a Commerce Graduate with Diploma in Marketing Management, has a wide and varied experience in trade and commerce, particularly in the fields of Printing and Publishing. He started the Publishing House Niyogi Books in the year 2005 with associate offices. Today Niyogi Books has over 250 titles to its credit and has won numerous awards from Federation of Indian Publishers and other International forums. He is also a member of Indo German Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Indian Publishers, All India Federation of Master Printers and the India International Centre, Press Club of India, Delhi State Booksellers & Publishers Association and Capexil, among others.

David Ryding is the Director of the Melbourne’s UNESCO City of Literature Office. Melbourne was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2008 in recognition of the city’s rich literary culture and diverse offering. The Melbourne City of Literature Office is responsible for celebrating and promoting this designation and everything literary Melbourne has to offer.
Prior to this he was the Executive Director of the NSW Writers’ Centre, Director of the Emerging Writers’ Festival and the Artistic Director for South Australian Theatre Company Mainstreet Theatre Company, a company dedicated to new Australian writing about Regional Australia.

Dipali Khanna is a civil servant with a distinguished career. She is presently Member Secretary, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), which is a CEO position and she has been in this role since August 2012. This is a research centre established to collate and preserve the various forms of art in India. Dipali has demonstrated a strong track record in the revival and setting up of institutions. In her present role, she has been responsible for comprehensively revamping IGNCA from an organization with low visibility to one that is on track to becoming a hub for content, resources, research and interaction in the field of art and cultural heritage.

Henry Rosenbloom is Scribe’s founder, publisher, and CEO. A son of Holocaust survivors, he was born in Paris, France, in 1947, was educated at the University of Melbourne — where he became the first full-time editor of the student newspaper, Farrago — and later worked in the Whitlam Labor government for Dr Moss Cass. The author of Politics and the Media (1976), he has been a book printer, freelance journalist, book reviewer, and occasional newspaper op-ed and feature writer. In 2010 he was presented with a George Robertson award for service to the publishing industry.

Ivor Indyk is the founder of the award-winning independent literary publisher Giramondo Publishing, and Whitlam Professor in the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney. A critic, essayist and reviewer as well as a publisher, he has written a monograph on David Malouf for Oxford University Press, and essays on many aspects of Australian literature, art, architecture and literary publishing. Giramondo publishes poetry, fiction and non-fiction by Australian and overseas authors. Important Australian authors published by Giramondo include Alexis Wright (winner of the Miles Franklin Award), Brian Castro, Gerald Murnane, Nicholas Jose, Judith Beveridge, Jennifer Maiden, Robert Gray, Gig Ryan and Antigone Kefala.

Karthika V.K. is publisher and chief editor of HarperCollins Publishers India. She started her career in publishing at Penguin Books India in 1996 and moved to Harper in 2006 to head the publishing programme in India. She has published several major including Anita Nair, Anuja Chauhan, Manu Joseph, Hartosh Singh Bal, Rana Dasgupta, S Hussain Zaidi, Sarnath Banerjee, Amruta Patil, Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Karthika Nair and Booker-prize winner Aravind Adiga, among others. At HarperCollins she oversees a publishing programme that includes a vibrant poetry and graphic fiction (and non-fiction) list apart from a strong literary imprint in Fourth Estate and Harper Sport, the only imprint in India that’s dedicated to sport books.

Kate McCormack’s first position was with an Australian educational publishing company. From Australia she moved to London where she worked for Foyles Bookshop, then as an assistant agent with The Sayle Literary Agency and after that took a job in rights with Virgin Books. She then travelled to India where she did some work with Tara Books. She has been with the Penguin Australia rights department for close to eight years now and was recently promoted to Rights Manager.

M. A. Sikandar is presently the Director of the National Book Trust, India. He has varied managerial, teaching & research experience in various Government departments and the University of Delhi. He also serves as Member in the project advisory committee of National Translation Mission, Grant-in-Aid Committee of Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, Advisory Committee for Central Hindi Directorate (Ministry of HRD), Advisory Committee Indian Literature Aborad, Sahitya Akademi, Advisory Board for Junior Science Section, TERI Publication. Dr Sikandar is also the Fair Director of the New Delhi World Book Fair. He has been conferred with the Award for Excellence – Production of Books globally by the Afro Asian Book Council (2014).

Manas Saikia has been with the Book Industry since he joined OUP as a 19 year old novice representative. He has handled every aspect of publishing, from editing to selling, from finance to distribution. Since 1985 he has been the face of Cambridge University Press in India. He was awarded an Honorary M.A. by The University of Cambridge. After an early retirement, Manas has started a distribution organization called “FEEL Books Pvt. Ltd.” who represent the distinguished German Publisher – De Gruyter among others. In 2014 he and another publishing veteran, Ravi Singh of Penguin fame, have joined hands to create a new Publisher – “Speaking Tiger”.

Manasi Subramaniam is Commissioning Editor and Rights Manager at HarperCollins Publishers India

Manisha Chaudhry is a writer, translator, editor and publisher. She started her career in publishing with Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house. She has also worked in the development sector as a consultant on issues of gender and primary education. Her English translation of Ailan Gali Zinda Hai by Chandrakanta published by Zubaan as A Street in Srinagar was shortlisted for the DSC prize for South Asian Literature in 2012. She works with Pratham Books as the Editorial Head. She was Founder Trustee of Bookaroo Trust which runs a children’s literature festival and is advisor to the Kahani and Samanvay festivals of literature.

Meredith Curnow is the Knopf, Vintage publisher at Random House Australia. Writers published include Don Watson, Gail Jones, Frank Moorhouse, Deborah Forster, David Malouf, Tom Keneally, Nick Earls, Kate Forsyth, Philipp Meyer and Stephen Dando-Collins. Before that, she was the director of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, from the re-launch as a freestanding event in 1998 until 2002. She spent five years at the Australian Publishers Association working with the export development committee, the trade publishing committee and the small publishers committee. Meredith chairs the APA / Australia Council committee for the Residential Editorial Program and is on the Editorial Advisory Board, Writing and Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney.

Mohua Mitra Senior Editor at Niyogi Books, Delhi, she has an inherent love for creative writing and translations. A former journalist, she worked with Business Standard and The Telegraph (ABP Group Publications, Kolkata) as feature writer and arts and music reviewer before moving on to creative & editorial consultancy and books & journals publishing as founder-partner of Inkpot in Kolkata (2003-2009), with a former journalist friend. She is happy grappling with the twists and turns of authors and manuscripts, particularly translations of indigenous writing from eastern and north-eastern India. Mohua lives in Delhi with her two children.

Naresh Khanna worked in the print industry in the U.S. and India till 1979, and since as a consultant to leading printers, publishers, and large international organizations in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Active in the movement to use computers for Indian language typesetting since 1976, he founded Indian Printer and Publisher a trade monthly in April 1979 and Packaging South Asia, another monthly in 2007. He started IppStar in 2001 and researched and wrote its Indian Print Industry Survey in 2004. IppStar began a country-wide survey of the Indian book publishing industry in January 2014. Author of Miracle of Democracy in India, 1977, Interprint Publications, New Delhi.
Nicholson Baker is the author of ten novels and five works of nonfiction, including The Mezzanine, Vox, Human Smoke, and The Anthologist. He has received a National Book Critics Circle award, a Herman Hesse Prize, and the Katherine Anne Porter Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives with his family in Maine.

Nicolas Idier is the Head of the Book Office at the Institut Français en Inde since September 2014, after having held the same position in Beijing at the Embassy of France in China during the last four years. A specialist in history and a Doctor of the Université Paris-Sorbonne, Nicolas Idier is also a fiction and non-fiction author.

Niyam Bhushan is an independent media, publishing, and IT professional, as well as one of India’s leading designers. He has worked as a consultant with Adobe of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, PageMaker, Xerox and Acrobat. Niyam has consulted with DK India, as also with Living Media for Scientific American as well as Prevention magazine. He is currently exploring how to adapt Pratham Books titles into digital formats including eBooks. He has been a Contributing Editor to Hindustan Times, Mint newspaper, Former Editor of PCWorld magazine, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Chip magazine, and Contributing Editor to LinuxForYou magazine. He comes from a family background in publishing and writing.

Oliver Møystad is Senior Adviser in NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad), working with translation support and the promotion of Norwegian literature abroad. Before joining NORLA in 2008, Møystad has worked for many years in Norwegian publishing as an editor and as a literary agent. He also translates from English, German and Spanish. He has a degree in Business Administration and a BA in Humanities.

Prasoon Joshi is a National Award winning Indian songwriter, screenwriter and advertising copywriter. He has built mega brands, won the prestigious National Award twice, garnered glory at international awards, and has been Chairman of the Jury at Cannes as well as on the jury of the Dadasaheb Phalke award. His work– be it mainstream brands like Coca Cola or socially relevant campaigns like Malnutrition or writing for feature films like Taare Zameen Par, Rang De Basanti or the recent Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (for which he has written the story, screenplay, dialogue as well as lyrics)– finds a deep social and mass connect.

Rajiv Mehta is Amazon’s Country Manager of Kindle in India and is responsible for all aspects of the Kindle business across India. Prior to joining Amazon.com in November 2014, Rajiv Mehta was Senior Vice President of Samsung America where he was responsible for the entire pre- and post-sales Operations. Before joining Samsung, Rajiv Mehta worked as Vice President, B2B Sales and Business Development at Sears Home Services and held several positions at Motorola where he was last regional Director and Business Development for EMEA and Asia Pacific. Rajiv Mehta is a graduate of University of Florida – Warrington College of Business.

Ralph Möllers In 1986, Ralph became an editor for computer book publisher Markt & Technik in Munich. In 1988, he teamed up with Iris Bellinghausen to found Systhema Verlag, one of Germany’s first multimedia publishers. Möllers left the company and took over as head of the multimedia publisher Navigo. In 1997, he founded his third publishing house Terzio, which publishes innovative children’s media. Book2look is an online marketing tool that Möllers & Bellinghausen has developed in a joint venture with the Mumbai based WITS Interactive Pvt. Ltd. and that is now internationally distributed by Nielsen Book Data.

Renu Kaul Verma is the founder director of Vitasta Publishing Private Limited and specializes both in fiction and non-fiction. A former journalist, she has worked with major Indian dailies such as the Indian Express and the Hindustan Time. She also publishes a monthly newspaper focused on Indian publishing industry, called BOOK LINK and is associated with a literary e-journal called Earthen Lamp Journal. She has published best-sellers such as Narendra Modi The GameChanger, Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: An inside job, Café Latte, Four Aleys, India’s Biggest Cover-up, No Secrets, Flight of Hilsa, From the streets of Kathmandu, No Country for Women, Brahmacharya Gandhi & His Women Associates, My God is a Woman, A Naxal Story, Shakti, Line of Control and Constitutional Controversies.

Renuka Chatterjee started out as a journalist with the Times of India in the late ‘80s, and helped launch The Saturday Times, the country’s first colour magazine weekend supplement. She switched to publishing in 1992 as Associate Editor with Penguin Books. After Penguin, she has been editor-in-chief of HarperCollins India and subsequently, Roli Books and Westland Ltd. In 2013 she started her own literary agency, The Boxwallah, for promoting quality fiction and non-fiction. She is currently Consulting Editor with Speaking Tiger.

Rick Simonson has worked at The Elliott Bay Book Company, an internationally recognized Seattle bookshop, since 1976. He is senior book buyer there and founded an author reading series that presents writers from around the world in 1984. He is on governing or advisory boards with Copper Canyon Press, the University of Washington Press, and Seagull Books. He has been a jury member for the DSC South Asian Literature Prize and the US’s National Book Award. He has spoken on bookselling and publishing at festivals and conferences in the U.S., Beijing, Sharjah, and Jaipur – which he has been attending since 2010.

Sandip Sen Writer, journalist Sandip Sen is the author of Neta Babu, Subsidy : Roundup 2000 to 2014 a book that charts the journey of the Indian economy during the last decade leading to the sharp fall of the Indian Rupee during the summer of 2013. He is currently an Editor at the 35-year old publication The Indian Printer and Publisher. A business analyst and energy sector specialist, he has been writing freelance for The Economic Times, The Financial Express and The Hindu Business Line. He also writes a risk management blog at ET named What happens if? and an environment blog Ecothrust at Blogspot and is also known by his Twitter handle @ecothrust.

Satti Khanna is Associate Professor at Duke University, USA, where he teaches Indian Cinema and Modern Hindi Literature. He has a special interest in the aesthetic experience induced by works of art. He interprets the lives and works of contemporary Indian writers through a series of documentary films and translations, of which the most recent is his translation of Vinod Kumar Shukla’s Khilega to Dekhenge (Once It Flowers, HarperCollins, 2014).

Dr Shantanu Ganguly, has served several reputed organizations in and around Delhi such as University of Delhi (DU), Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), and National Productivity Council (NPC), Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute). He served as Academic Counselors to several institutions such as IGNOU, VMOU to develop their course modules. He also served as Associate Editors for several reputed national journals and newsletters. He is the Organising Secretary of the most prestigious International Conference on Digital Libraries (ICDL). He is also recipient of most prestigious awards – Bonnie Hilditch International Librarian Award for Science and Technology – 2010, conferred by Special Library Association, USA and Roll of Honour, and conferred by TERI for his outstanding contribution in the profession.

Shona Martyn has been the Publishing Director of HarperCollins Australia and New Zealand for 15 years. She previously worked for Random House and Transworld Publishers. Shona started her working life as a newspaper journalist and was the winner of the Journalist of the Year award in her native New Zealand before working in the UK and Australia. She was subsequently the Arts Editor of Vogue Australia, the editor of Good Weekend and the founding editor of HQ magazine before her move to book publishing. In her role at HarperCollins, she oversees all adult fiction and non-fiction publishing.

Sirish Rao is a writer, festival producer and publishing professional. He is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the annual Indian Summer Festival in Vancouver, an omnivorous festival of arts, culture and ideas. Sirish has authored twenty books, from commentaries on popular culture to children’s books, to retellings of Greek plays for the Paul Getty Museum. His books have been translated into seventeen languages and won several international awards. Sirish is the former Director of the award-winning Tara Books and is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Publishing Department at Simon Fraser University where he teaches a course in international publishing.

Shubhada Rao is the Chief Economist at YES BANK. Shubhada brings with her over 25 years of experience in academia and industry wherein she has pioneered research design geared to facilitate business decisions. Shubhada has also worked with Kotak Institutional Equities, Bank of Baroda, CRISIL Advisory Services and Times Bank. Shubhada is an active member of the Economics Committees of Industry Associations and is a member of CII National Economic Policy Council, New Delhi, Co-Chair of Economics Committee at ASSOCHAM and a member of the Monetary Policy Group – Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). She had also served as Chairman of Economics Committee of Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry between 2009-11

Terri-Ann White has spent her working life around books and ideas: as a bookseller, writer, teacher and workshop presenter, editor, festival organizer and now publisher. The one driving constant is her passion for the unique voice in writing, and the preparedness to be evangelical in its promotion. She is currently Director of UWA Publishing in Perth, Western Australia.

Urvashi Butalia is the founder and CEO at Zubaan books. She co-founded Kali for Women in 1984 and Zubaan in 2003. Along with over 35 years of experience in feminist and independent publishing, she also has several works to her credit, key among which is her path-breaking study of Partition, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India which won several awards. She has also taught publishing for over 20 years and is on the advisory boards of a number of national and international organisations. She has received awards such as the Pandora award for women’s publishing, the French Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres, the Nikkei Asia Award for Culture and the Padma Shree, the highest civilian honour awarded by the Indian government.

Ute Reimer-Boehner has been working at the Goethe-Institut across the globe since 17 years. Currently she is the director of Information and Library Services South Asia at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. Goethe-Institut organises and promotes a wide spectrum of cultural events with the aim of presenting German culture. The department of library and information services cooperates with institutions, publishing houses and libraries in India and fosters the translation of German literature as well as the professional exchange with Germany.

Dr Venu Vasudevan is currently serving as the Director General of National Museum and Vice Chancellor of National Museum Institute, under the Ministry of Culture. Till recently, he was also Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Culture. In his brief tenure in the National Museum, Dr Venu, has been instrumental in reviving the Museum. Under his leadership, galleries have reopened, displays have improved and facilities upgraded. He has also played a key role in designing and rolling out the ‘Incredible India’ campaign. He played a key role in organising the Kochi Biennale, an international art event. He is active in theatre, and performs with his group ‘ Abhinaya’.

Vera Michalski-Hoffmann Born in Basel, Switzerland, in a family with Swiss, Russian and Austrian roots, Vera spent her childhood in France, studied in Spain and has a degree in Political science from the Graduate institute of International Studies in Geneva. She established the Jan Michalski (named after her late husband) foundation for Literature and Writing to actively support literary activities in different countries. She is now the publisher of the Libella group that comprises the following imprints: In France : Buchet/Chastel, Phébus, Le temps apprivoisé, les Cahiers dessinés, Libretto. In Switzerland : Noir sur Blanc, with a new line called Notabilia, Editions Favre. And in Poland: Oficyna Literacka Noir sur Blanc.

Vishal Anand is Chief Product Officer at NewsHunt. His career spans between US, Japan and India where he has led product & engineering teams that have shipped large-scale consumer software products. He currently heads NewsHunt, and derives happiness in bringing never before available Indian literature in hands Indian mobile users.

Wendy Were After running three successful writers’ festivals at the Perth International Arts Festival, Wendy was the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sydney Writers’ Festival. She has also been a Business Advisor with the Creative Industries Innovation Centre and the CEO at the iconic West Australian Music (WAM. The Sydney Morning Herald listed Wendy in the top 100 of the most influential people in Sydney in 2008. In 2009 she was listed in Artshub’s top 15 arts power players in Australia. Wendy is a member of the WA regional arts panel for the Churchill Fellowship; a Council Member of Voiceless, the animal protection institute; and a patron of the Fairbridge Folk Festival.

JaipurBookMark ( JBM), 21-22 January 2015, Narain Niwas, Jaipur

The Jaipur BookMark 2015
Where South Asia meets the world

21-22 January 2015, Narain Niwas, Jaipur

(JBM 2015 will run for two days parallel with the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on the 21 and 22 January)

bookmark-logo

Day 1: 21st January 2015

12:30 PM-INAUGURATION

Sanjoy Roy, Namita Gokhale, Oliver Moystad

1:30 PM-2:30 PM- INAUGURAL LUNCH hosted by NORLA

2:30 PM-3:30 PM- SESSION 1

IS PUBLISHING “UNBANKABLE”?

A business like no other, publishing finds it notoriously difficult to raise finance: a session on the business of publishing; discussing the structural issues concerning publishing, bank finance, volume and scalability etc.

 

Speakers: Dr Shubhada Rao, Henry Rosenbloom, Bikash Niyogi, Manas Saikia, Atiya Zaidi and Aditi Maheshwari
Moderator: Naresh Khanna

3.30 PM – 4.00 PM TEA

4:00 PM-5:00 PM-SESSION 2

DIGITAL PLATFORMS: THE UNTAPPED TERRITORIES

From social media to distribution, what should publishing professionals be aware of in their rapidly changing industry? Kindles, Kobos, iPads and audiobooks; what does all this new technology mean for the industry from writers to editors, marketers to consumers?

Speakers: Nicolas Idier, Niyam Bhushan, Rajiv Mehta, Ajit Baral and Vishal Anand
Moderator: Arpita Das
Session Supported by: NewsHunt

5.00PM – 6.00PM – SESSION 3

LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES: TIME TRAVELERS EXTRAORDINAIRE
An IGNCA supported Open Forum, on the convergence of Libraries, Archives and Museums. With more access to information available online than ever before, regardless of location, what new role could and should libraries and archives play in making information accessible to all?

Speakers: Dipali Khanna, Alberto Manguel, Nicholson Baker, Dr. Venu Vasudevan and Shantanu Ganguly
Moderator: Bharti Sinha
Session supported by: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts

6:00 PM-7:00 PM DRINKS

Day 2: 22nd January 2015

10.30AM TEA/COFFEE

10.45 AM – 11.30 AM – SESSION 1

WHO IS THE BOOK?
‘More than 48 printed pages and bound within 2 covers’, is that the book or is there more to it? On the changing format and technology of the book in an increasingly interactive environment.

Ralph Mollers in conversation with Sirish Rao; introduced by Ute Reimer-Boehner

11.30 AM- 12.30 PM – SESSION 2

RETHINKING TRANSLATION: RELOCATING THE CENTRE

How do we translate content across multi-media and digital borders including e-books, audio books, graphic texts and cross-media conversions?

Speakers: Vera Michalski, Satti Khanna, Mahua Mitra, Rick Simonson, Shona Martyn and Manasi Subramaniam
Moderator: Renuka Chatterjee

12.30 PM-1.30 PM SESSION 3

SOUTH-SOUTH COLLABORATIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH AUSTRALIAN PUBLISHERS

Increasingly, publishers in the global south are beginning to work directly with each other; literary festivals and bookfairs in southern countries are now choosing to focus also on southern authors. In a free ranging conversation, Australian publishers and literary entrepreneurs talk about new collaborations and new relationships.

Speakers: Ivor Indyk, Terri-Ann White, David Ryding, Kate McCormack, Wendy Were and Meredith Curnow
Moderator: Urvashi Butalia

1.30 PM-2.30 PM LUNCH

2.30 PM-3.30 PM SESSION 4

CONTENT IS QUEEN

The book is no longer just a book–it is now a basis for film, video games, interactive reading, collective writing and so much more. With book formats morphing and mutating how will content adapt to survive?

Speakers: Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Prasoon Joshi, Sandip Sen and Renu Kaul
Moderator: Karthika V.K.

3.30 PM-4.00 PM TEA

4.00 PM – 5.00PM-SESSION 5

TOWARDS A NATIONAL READING POLICY

A viable reading policy involves encouraging reading, creating an infrastructure to make books available and finally providing books. What role can States and private actors play to overcome the gap between policies and their implementation?

Speakers: Oliver Moystad, M A Sikandar, Prof. Apoorvanand and Prof. Avdhesh Kumar Singh
Moderator: Manisha Chaudhry
Session supported by: National Book Trust

5 PM CLOSING CEREMONY

6 PM-7 PM DRINKS (those who wish to leave for DSC South Asian Literature prize at Diggi Palace may proceed)

Participants are free to network in the Rights Chaupal.

To register, please visit the Jaipur Literature Festival website at: http://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/registration/jaipur-bookmark-registration

and click on the Register button.

Registration would include delegate status for the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival specified to the date.

Rs 3,500/- per day or Rs 6,000/- for two days per person

For further queries, please contact: jaipurbookmark@teamworkarts.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaipurBookMark?fref=ts

Freda Bedi, “Rhymes for Ranga”

Rhymes for Ranga_coverSarah and I discovered a fabulous book of poems for children — Rhymes for Ranga by Freda Bedi. These were written in the 1930s and 40s by an Englishwoman for her eldest son, Ranga. These are simply told, easily understood by children and stupendous to recite. They may have been written many  years ago but do not sound dated. There are rhymes echoing the pride of the birth of a new nation, Mahatma Gandhi, about cattle, seasons, the national flag, pets, a lovely one on the birth of Jesus ( “Mariam’s song”), festivals of India like Basant and Diwali. Some describe India so well — “Sherbets in thumbs_ranga-7Summer”, “The Kite Song”, “Gulairee”, “Pir Panchal”, “Kashmir Birthday”, “The Land of Nowhere” and “The End of the World”.  The charming watercolour illustrations by Anna Bhushan accompanying the poems are perfect. Each page has been well designed with the illustration matching the text.

Freda Bedi was born in Derbyshire, England and met her husband Baba Bedi at the University of Oxford in 1931.thumbs_ranga-17 Her eldest son Ranga, for whom these poems were written, was born in Berlin, Germany and six months later, in 1934, the family came home to India. ( She had two more children – a daughter, Gulhima, and a son, Kabir Bedi, the actor.) Freda took active part in India’s freedom movement and was the first British woman to serve a six-month internment in Lahore jail in 1943. She remained in India all her life, and went on to work with Tibetan refugees in the 1960s, and converted to Buddhism. In 1965, Freda became the first European woman to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun, Sister Palmo, or Gelongma Karma Kechog Palmo. She died in 1977. When the book was published in 2010, Mid Day published an article containing some black and white photographs from the family album: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/a-bedi-good-rhyme/91679 ( Fiona Fernandez, “A Bedi good rhyme”, 15 August 2010 ).

While creating a rich imaginative space for Indian children especially through poetry that is closely linked to their reality is sadly lacking. Rhymes for Ranga is one big step in filling that vacuum.

Freda Bedi Rhymes for Ranga Random House India, New Delhi, 2010. Hb. pp. 90. Rs 399.