March 2016 Posts

Ashwin Sanghi, “The Sialkot Saga”

The-Sialkot-Saga

Bollywood actress, Kajol, and Ashwin Sanghi unveiling the book cover of “The Sialkot Saga” at Jaipur Literature Festival 2016.

Some animals hunt. Others hide. And a few hunt while they hide.

Ashwin Sanghi’s latest novel The Sialkot Saga will be released on 5 April 2016. It is a greatly anticipated thriller whose cover was unveiled with great fanfare by the Bollywood actress, Kajol Devgn, at Jaipur Literature Festival 2016.  The Sialkot Saga  is a retelling of modern Indian history through the lives of a Muslim Mumbai underworld don, Arbaaz Sheikh, and a Hindu Calcutta Marwari businessman, Arvind Bagadia. Basic premise being money matters, nothing else — it is a dhanda after all. As is the fashion nowadays in modern novels a family saga spread across at least two generations is a must and is evident in Sialkot Saga too. There are neat historical details beginning with Partition interspersed with brutal violence and unscrupulous plans to gain money. Politics, land deals, hawala, narcotics, films etc. Anything as long as there is a healthy profit margin to be made. There are some descriptions of violence particularly horrifying since they challenge the boundaries of ethics. But the acts described are so very plausible that the horror is compounded manifold. It strikes a sense of fear. Surprisingly the boldness of these criminal minds also makes one chuckle. 300-odd pages into the novel it begins to seem like a manual on the rise of corporate India. It becomes a little convoluted with its business descriptions. An account of the birth of companies like Reliance, Satyam, Infosys to the formidable place they hold today as the gems of Shining & Incredible India. The chorus of the opening pages soon to be forgotten as the plot builds is “Some animals hunt. Others hide. And a few hunt while they hide.” Attention does begin to flag but every writer writes from their strong point and being a successful businessman is one of Ashwin Sanghi’s strengths.

The second is his avatar as a modern mythographer. It is evident in the tenuous tale he weaves about the sanjeevani. It seems a bit convenient but once again it is Ashwin Sanghi’s forte to pull together myths and present them in a modern setting. It is his trademark. And one that his many readers will be waiting for. ( Till date he has sold over a million units of his previous books.)

Here is the link to the book trailer: https://youtu.be/1qv_tk5i9kM . It is a wonderfully edited movie clip but is not true to the book at all.

Undoubtedly Ashwin Sanghi’s “Sialkot Saga” is immensely readable for its tremendous insight into the Indian brand of businessmen. There is no word for their inventiveness in their greed for money and this is matched by the phenomenal storytelling of the novelist. It is quite remarkable. Setting his story in the historical backdrop of modern India proves that irrespective of political ideologies and government policies, money always wins. Having said that there is a lot of testosterone flowing through this book with the few women characters taking on fairly conventional roles. Even the breakaway character of Alisha as an example of the millennial generation does not quite live up to promise. I am not even going to nitpick about historical accuracy since it does not purport to be a historical novel. It is just a great story.

Read it!

Ashwin Sanghi The Sialkot Saga Westland, Chennai, 2016. Pb. pp. 584. Rs 350

31 March 2016

World Theatre Day, 27 March 2016

It was World Theatre Day yesterday— 27 March 2016. I missed it. Nevertheless I am posting a short note about a couple of books published recently about theatre in India that are worth noting.

  1. A. Mangai Acting Up: Gender and theatre in India, 1979 onwards Leftword, New Delhi, 2015. Hb. pp. 278 MangaiRs.495 : It is an astounding book written by a feminist who has been closely associated with Indian theatre for more than thirty years. It is an astonishing book not just for the breadth and variety of theatre that exists in India but also for the fine analysis. It is by a woman practitioner who understands the nuances as well as the academic discourses, the historical and political context of theatre in post-Independent India and the influence of women’s movements in performance and how more recent performances have challenged heteronormative, patriarchal structures. For this book Mangai interviewed many women theatre artistes. She has also included accounts of performances, plays, troupes and fascinating bits of information such as reference to Neera Adarkar’s work on highlighting little-known aspects of women in theatre history. “For instance, Adarkar refers to an all-female theatre company called Belgaonkar Stree Sangeet Mandali founded by a prostitute called Ekamba, which performed a social play called Dandadhari: a pro-Tilak play that cautiously addressed the issue of widow remarriage. It even featured Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale as characters. But this did not hold back the critics: the women who played these famous men were viewed as ‘ugly, cheap, and abnormal’!” ( p.138)  It is a path-breaking book for its encyclopaedic knowledge about theatre in India. Every time you read it you discover something more.
  2. The Scenes We Made: An Oral History of Experimental Theatre in Mumbai (Edited by Shanta Gokhale) Speaking Tiger, New Delhi, 2016. Hb. pp. 210 Rs. 599: Mumbai theatre has been and continues to be with theShanta Gokhale establishment of Prithvi Theatre an influential space in India. This particular book focuses upon three spaces — Bhulabhai Desai Memorial Institute, Walchand Terrace and Chhabildas School Hall. But the structure of the book is interesting since these are oral history accounts of noted theatre personalities like Ebrahim Alkazi, Vijaya Mehta, Satayadev Dubey, Sulabha Deshpande, Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah. It is an incredible book for it plunges you straightaway into Mumbai of 1950s and brings it to the present. What comes across is the very close knit community the theatre artists formed and continue to do so. Shockingly the brilliant introduction by Girish Karnad is not mentioned on the cover or in the list of contents. It contextualises the theatre movement with a superb overview of the Indian playwrights inheritance from the West and their attempts at experimenting with the folk form in a modern play. Girish Karnad says “Could one, we kept asking, write a contemporary play, sensitive to modern concerns, using the conventions of medieval theatre, such as masks, mime, monologues and songs, without becoming regressive in content?” ( p.xv) It is a book I treasure.

But the book I truly am waiting for is noted theatre person and publisher, Sudhanva Deshpande, writing about theatre. Some years ago as he sat by his father’s sickbed, the noted Marathi playwright, G. P. Deshpande, Sudhanva wrote a series of long Facebook posts interweaving GPD’s significant contribution to Indian theatre with an incredible account of the theatre movement. If published albeit slightly expanded this firsthand experience of being part of Indian theatre would be an invaluable contribution to theatre.

28 March 2016

Yann Martel, “The High Mountains of Portugal” and Kent Haruf, “Our Souls at Night”

Yann MartelLove is a house with many rooms, this room to feed the love, this one to entertain it, this one to clean it, this one to dress it, this one to allow it to rest, and each of these rooms can also just as well be the room for laughing or the room for listening or the room for telling one’s secrets or the room for sulking or the room for apologizing or the room for intimate togetherness, and, of course, there are rooms for the new members of the household. Love is a house in which plumbing brings bubbly new emotions every morning, and sewers flush out disputes, and bright windows open up to admit the fresh air of renewed goodwill. Love is a house with an unshakable foundation and an indestructible roof. ( p23-24, The High Mountains of Portugal)

Three widowers, Tomas ( 1904), Eusebio Lozora (1938) and Peter Tovy ( 1981), are the protagonists in three loosely interlinked stories — “Homeless”, “Homeward” and “Home”. These are in Yann Martel’s latest offering, The High Mountains of Portugal. There is a sense of loneliness and despair. The three long stories are the ways in which the men come to terms with losing their beloved. With Tomas it is walking backwards and then going off to the High Mountains of Portugal in search of a church relic. For Eusebio solace is to be found somewhere in the space of living and the dead, usually during the many hours he spends conducting autopsies in his office. And for Canadian Senator Peter Tovy it is buying a chimpanzee from a laboratory, Odo, and creating a life for themselves together in Portugal, Peter’s country of origin. The three stories are connected unexpectedly but these links do not strike as jarring a note as one would expect. Funnily enough these magic realist tales are incredibly soothing to read, particularly “Home”. It is inevitable comparisons will be made between  Karen Joy Fowler’s Booker-shortlisted We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as was done by Ursula Le Guin in her book review. ( The Guardian, 27 January 2016 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/27/the-high-mountains-of-portugal-yann-martel-review ) Yet the detail and incredible amounts of research it must have required to write this story are masked completely by the sensitive and movingly told relationship between Peter and Odo. But then the idea of a journey, self-growth of the narrator and with a wild animal as a companion is not a unique idea for Yann Martel.

Yann Martel was incredibly lucky when his second book, Life of Pi. It sold over 4 million units and continues to be in print. ( The success of this novel is indicated by placing it as a qualifier beneath Yann Martel’s name on the new book cover as “Author of Life of Pi“.) It is a an enviable luck. But what is even more striking is how the luxury of money allows the writer the time and artistic license to play with ways of storytelling. With a seemingly traditional and old-fashioned opening in “Homeless” Yann Martel moves on surely and steadily to tickle the imagination and challenge the reader to engage with the text such as the image of the ape, Peter and his son trying to read Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death in Portugese, together. It is an extraordinary experience and not to be easily forgotten.

Juxtapose this with the late Kent Haruf’s heartbreakingly tender tale OurKent Haruf Souls at Night. It is about two elderly people — Addie and Louis. Both single having lost their spouses a little while earlier. Both have children who have left the small town they live in for better pastures in the big cities. It is about their unique friendship. Of spending time together at night chatting quietly, lying side by side in bed, neatly sidestepping traditional roles and expectations. This  gives them much solace since they are past the age of caring what others think. Yet it sets tongues wagging amongst the locals and upsetting their children considerably too who return to check upon the parents.  Both, Addie and Louis, have reasons to grieve but have worked out that they derive immense happiness in this unexpected way of life. Even for the short duration that they are responsible for the caregiving of Addie’s six-year-old grandson they come across as a contented family unit.

Our Souls at Night The High Mountains of Portugal are stories that gently but magnificently delve into that very moment immediately after the death of a spouse — loved or not is not necessarily always the question. But the sheer loss of losing someone with whom you have co-habited and existed for decades leaves a devastating hole in one’s life that is not always easily comprehended by family. These two books that despite being heartbreakingly tender are surprisingly very comforting to read. It is worth spending time with them. I hope many copies are sold. Question begs to be asked. Do readers have the space to read mature stories especially that are at a lower pace and dwell on old age? Nowadays there is so much of the angry new novel and baring one’s heart and soul, where do these beautiful novels find their readership?

( Two other novels I would put in the same category as these novels are Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover  and Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child. )

Yann Martel The High Mountains of Portugal Canongate, London, 2016. Pb. pp. 332. Rs.599

Kent Haruf Our Souls at Night Picador, London, 2015. Hb. pp. 180. Rs 550

24 March 2016

Molly Crabapple, “Drawing Blood”


Art is hope against cynicism, creation against entropy. To make art is an act of both love and defiance. Though I’m a cynic, I believe these things are all we have. ( p.320)

In blank notes I put painful bits of my past on the computer screen. As I wrote, these memories became external to me. They were art now, less a burden than a product. They couldn’t hurt me anymore. ( p316)

Molly Crabapple’s Drawing Blood is a memoir which is most Molly's Factoryextraordinary. ( http://mollycrabapple.com/ ) It is like a picture book for adults. The pictures complement the text and vice versa. But the words too recreate in minute visual detail each memory she chooses to recount. There are pages and pages of description that is like walking through an exhibition of dioramas brilliantly laid out by a talented artist. The memories recounted are those that seem to matter the most to Molly Crabapple. There seems to be no inclination or desire to delve into spaces that may give the socio-cultural co-ordinates of the artist. Only what is relevant to her narrative is shared even to the extent her grandfather, the painter, is referred to only because of the artistic inheritance evident in her mother and in Molly’s talent. But it is the incidents she chooses to dwell upon are an extraordinary insight into society, not just the underbelly of modern society but of the marginalised groups and the fight for survival, the fight for rights, the fight against injustice. Her series from Guantanamo Bay for the online journal Vice catapulted her to fame. ( http://www.vice.com/read/molly-crabapple-draws-gtmos-camp-x-ray and http://www.vice.com/read/molly-crabapple-sent-us-sketches-from-khalid-sheikh-mohammeds-trial-at-gitmo )

And this is the opening line of Drawing Blood.

I was drawing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. ( p.1) Khalid Mohammed in G Bay, drawn by Molly Crabapple

In that one sentence Molly Crabapple brings reading to a grinding halt. The visual image it conjures up of an artist peacefully sketching a man in an orange jump suit, shackled and behind bars in a court room, far, far away…with the drawings later to be stamped by an official inspector marking his approval for the sheets to be publicised as a cruel reminder that Guantanamo Bay is a high-security zone. Yet, there is no denying the painful intensity of her drawings as is evident in the sketches tipped into the memoir.

30tmag-crabapple-1-facebookJumboIt takes a while to return to the text but once back it is incredible to read how much experience Molly Crabapple has packed in a short while. Beginning with the time spent as a seventeen-year-old at Shakespeare Molly Crabappleand Company Bookshop in Paris to wandering and drawing in the streets of Morocco, Turkey, participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement to painting sex workers, gay and trans refugees fleeing Syria, migrant workers building Abu Dhabi’s great museums etc. It is no surprise then if you type in the search words, “Molly Crabapple”, there are a number of options that appear for her art work — Art, Burlesque, Illustration, Drawings, Political Art, and Marvel– highlighting her multi-faceted interests. But it is her humility, a rare trait, that shines through the memoir — “As I worked abroad, I began to recognize my own smallness in the vast world, and the learning I still had to do.” ( p.335)

In her concluding paragraph she says:

I started drawing as a way to cope with people: to observe and record them, to understand them, charm them, or to keep them at arm’s length. I drew to show Moroccon street kids that I was more than a tourist. I drew to win the attention of beautiful women and to mock authoritarian twits. I drew from the wings of burlesque shows, when the girls peeled off their gloves and poured glitter into the crowd. When the world changed in 2011, I let my art change with it, expanding nightclub walls to hotel suites and street protests. My drawings bled into the world. 

I continue to draw, out of a gluttonous desire for life in all its beauty and horror. I draw everything I hate and everything I love. I fill new notebooks every week, sketching refugee camps and rebels, performers and migrants. 

My work has taken me past the edge of burnout. It’s burned in. 

Art gave me a way to see, to record, to fight and to interrogate, to preserve love and demand reckoning — to find joy where once I could see only ash. 

I’d take on the world, armed only with a sketchbook.

I’d make it mine. ( p. 335)

Read Molly Crabapple’s memoir. She is like the Elvis of New Age Literature blazing a unique trail of her own while building upon the artistic traditions she has inherited in an informed manner.  Read Drawing Blood. You won’t be sorry.

Molly Crabapple Drawing Blood Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2015. Hb. pp. 335. Rs 1299

16 March 2016

Of two women short story writers — Diane Cook and Arlene Heyman

Over the past few days I have read two debut short story collections — Diane Cook’s powerfully imaginative and equally disconcerting Man vs Nature and Arlene Heyman’s incisive and humorous  Scary Old Sex.

Man vs NatureDiane Cook’s ( http://dianemariecook.com/ ) short stories have been published in online literary magazines. For once the book blurb has to be taken for what it is—this is an astonishingly bold collection of stories. It is easily classified as speculative fiction, nudging the logical boundaries of imagination sufficiently to create a world which is not necessarily dystopic but disconcerting nevertheless especially in the new rules governing human social behaviour. There is a cold-hearted undercurrent to the stories that is chilling bringing home the point very strongly — irrespective of the situation, it is always survival of the fittest. What is frightening is that the scenarios these stories delineate are all in the realm of possibility. An unpleasant thought! It is very difficult to get rid from the mind’s eye of the landscape these stories create. Hence it is not surprising that this has been a Finalist for The Believer Book Award and the LA Times Book Prizes, Honorable Mention from the Pen/Hemingway Award, Longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and A Boston Globe, iBooks, and San Francisco Chronicle Best book of 2014.

Arlene Heyman’s debut Scary Old Sex is of a different ilk altogether. The short stories Scary Old Sexare descriptive and yet so detached, almost as if there is a clinical precision in the manner the mind operates.  It is about sex but unlike most stories that focus on the act here the focus on how the mind operates is spellbindingly written. Being a practising psychiatrist is a definite advantage for Arlene Heyman. It maybe unfair to yoke the two distinct aspects of the author yet it is impossible not to see the influence her profession has on her storytelling. She is able to distinguish between the physical and mental wants of the individual. But equally stupendous is the fine detail with which she describes not only the real world but the spectrum of emotions her characters experience — a rare quality not often seen in short story writing. One of the most interesting stories is “In Love with Murray”, probably an autobiographical story based on Arlene Heyman’s affair with Bernard Malamud — it is dedicated to him. Read Elaine Showalter’s delightful review-article in the Guardian about the literary muse, Arelene Heyman, and unearthing the literary history + mystery that this collection encases. ( Scary Old Sex by Arlene Heyman review – lusty, tough and life-affirming , 25 Feb 2016 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/25/scary-old-sex-by-arlene-heyman-review )

Both collections are highly recommended.

Diane Cook Man Vs Nature Oneworld Publications, London, 2015. Pb. pp. 258 

Arelene Heyman Scary Old Sex Bloomsbury, London, 2015. Pb. pp. 230 Rs 499

 

 

Of picture books and chapter books

Every night Sarah and I have a bedtime ritual. She picks out a book and we read it together. Some of the titles we read these past few days are Ruskin Bond’s Monkey Trouble and Other Grandfather Stories,  Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys and Devashish Makhija’s When Ali Became Bajrangbali.

412_10153369862301867_2618426068633995193_nRuskin Bond’s new offering — Monkey Trouble and Other Grandfather Stories is a delightful comic-like chapter book consisting of three tales wonderfully illustrated by Priya Kuriyan. The speech bubbles make it easy for a new reader. Well laid out text and pictures. Clean. Not fussy. Speech bubbles consist of simple sentences. The printing is neat too. One of the pitfalls of these complicated books is the mismatch in colours or text not sitting well within the prescribed boundaries. Every story panel is neatly placed. Each page is filled with light…the water colours are not dreary to engage with. All these factors make it a
pleasure to read.

Another one illustrated by Priya Kuriyan is Devashish Makhija’s absolutely stupendous When Ali Became Bajrangbali. The story line is delightfully simple and straightforward but deceptively so. There are layers and layers Devashish MakhijaTarget, MoochwalaMoochwallato it. The child enjoys it for the story, rhythm and the roller coaster of emotions it causes. The illustrations incorporating a montage of advertisements and street art give it a richness too. For the adult, from the tongue-in-cheek title onwards it is fun, fun, fun to read while building upon memories too. I love particularly the literary reincarnation of Mr Moochhvaala. He first appeared as “Detective Moochwala” in his own comic strip created by Ajit Ninan in the now-defunct children’s magazine Target. And here is a lovely YouTube link to Devashish Makhija reading the story out at Bookaroo Literature Festival, Pune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pthzhJxBSiA&ab_channel=TulikaBooks

Bad GuysThe last one is laugh aloud rib tickling The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey. It is a chapter book that has the Bad Wolf of countless fairy tales and folklore as the main character. He is trying to turn over a good leaf and become acceptable. He puts together a motley crew of cronies in the Good Guys Club consisting of Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and IMG-20160305-WA0001Mr Snake. They go on quests such as rescuing a stranded cat in a tree —who is petrified when he notices his wouldbe rescuers. The Good Guys Club members hope that such quests will improve their “tarnished” image as vicious and untrustworthy creatures. A very tough call when they look more like the mafia!  Here is the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqbUANlqXXE

Buy these books and make the children happy! Absolutely delightful!

 

In India these books are available by the following publishers:

Ruskin Bond’s Monkey Trouble and Other Grandfather Stories  by Red Turtle, Rupa Publishers

Devashish Makhija’s When Ali Became Bajrangbali by Tulika Books

Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys by Scholastic India

16 March 2016 

 

 

 

 

 

Worldreader in India

 

WR logoWorldreader is actively seeking strategic partnerships with publishers and authors in India. Today it is being accessed by over 6 million readers in 69 countries, providing them with book titles in more than 43 languages. Worldreader would like to discuss a non-exclusive contract for publishing licenses for good, addictive and evergreen content for children, young adults and adults/women especially in Hindi and English. Given that the Worldreader platform supports multi-lingual formats the content could be across other Indian regional languages too. These texts could be across genres and reading segments– picture books, chapter books, bilingual books for children, stories, anthologies, fiction, translations, non-fiction, spiritual, health, cooking, memoirs, biographies, etc. Please email: jayabhattacharjirose1 at gmail dot com . For more information on Worldreader, please see the note below. 

Worldreader ( www.worldreader.org ) is a non-profit organization with the mission of ‘providing digital books to children and families in the developing world. It was established in 2010 by Colin McElwee and David Risher. Worldreader is on a mission to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives.It focuses on enabling digital reading especially using the mobile platform. The mantra is “Books for All”. Today it is being accessed by over 6 million readers in 69 countries, providing them with book titles in more than 43 languages. Another plus point in Worldreader’s favour is that it supports multi-lingual formats. It firmly believes that “Literacy is transformative”.

In fact Worldreader is one of Fast Company’s most innovative nonprofits of 2016 and won the GLOMO Award 2016 for the best mobile innovation for education. Even the UNESCO report on “Reading in the Mobile Era” highlights Worldreader’s programme. ( http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002274/227436e.pdf )

Worldreader is now in India. It has been launched in India with its mobile reading to children programme or mR2C.

mR2C in Delhi, pix credit, David Risher, Feb 2016

mR2C in Delhi, pix credit, David Risher, Feb 2016

It is a two-year pilot in Delhi NCR. In collaboration with select NGOs as implementing partners mR2C seeks to promote pre-literacy skills by encouraging parents to read to and with their young children (age 0-6) and by empowering them to do so by giving them access to a free digital library of high quality, locally relevant books and educational materials via their mobile phones. But Worldreader is focussing on all reading segments and age groups: from toddlers – children – young adult — adult literature. Given how many people, especially women, own a mobile and are willing to charge it first, despite not having ready access to water or electricity makes the idea of delivering books via mobiles an attractive proposition.

mR2C in Delhi, pix credit, David Risher, Feb 2016

mR2C in Delhi, pix credit, David Risher, Feb 2016

The organization uses e-readers, mobile phones and other digital technology to reach readers in more than 69 countries, providing them with over 28,500 book titles in 43 languages ranging from Afrikaans to Hindi. The e-book titles cover a spectrum of reading materials, ranging from beginner readers learning to read, to students and teachers accessing educational materials, to those reading for pleasure. So far it has reached more than 245 schools and libraries; 1,110,196 people reading every month; 5,653,216 people reached since 2010 and since its programme was launched in India, it has 92,698 active readers online ( Dec 2015). It works with 180 publishers to acquire and digitize compelling and relevant content for readers. The non-profit also works with donors, organizations, communities and governments to develop and digitize local and international books, as well as manage logistics and support. It has digitized more than 5,000 titles from African and Indian publishers. They are headquartered in San Francisco, California and have offices in Europe and Africa.

Through an internet-connected mobile device (feature and smartphones), children and families can read e-books with the organization’s reading application, called Worldreader Mobile. 250 million children of primary school age cannot read and write. 774 million people around the world are illiterate. 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low‐income countries left school with basic reading skills – that is equivalent to a 12% drop in the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day. Geographically ¾ of illiterate adults worldwide are in sub-Saharan Africa and Southwest Asia. 2 out 3 illiterate people are women. It is known that readers in developing countries are primarily male but by removing cultural barriers that prohibit or discourage women from owning mobile technology and training women (as well as men) how to use basic mobile phones to access books and stories increases the possibility of women and girls reading more.  This mobile reading in turn positively impacts children since it appeals to (and can benefit) neo-literate and semi-literate adults and adolescents.

Worldreader Mobile is a reading application that provides access to books, educational resources and health information to people with mobile phones. The non-profit launched Worldreader Mobile in April 2012.  The app is also available on Opera Software, Microsoft Windows phones, and in Mozilla’s Firefox Marketplace. In partnership with Opera Software, Worldreader launched a Web-browser app, promoted on the Opera Mini platform. Reading on Worldreader Mobile is particularly popular with women, who spend on average 207 minutes reading per month, compared to 32 minutes for men. Research from a 2013 Report by UNESCO, Reading in the Mobile Era, found that reading on a mobile phone increased reading time across all media. There were also clear benefits for children that were not of reading age as one-third of mobile readers in the developing world use their phones to read stories to children.

Ian Denison at CEOSpeak, Jan 2016

Ian Denison at CEO Speak, Jan 2016. Organised jointly by NBT & FICCI.

Worldreader contends that their mission is two-fold: increasing access to books while springboarding local publishers and authors into an international market. It makes content available in English and an array of local languages such as Hindi and Marathi and this is possible without the high costs and other limitations with print. Worldreader defrays digital start-up costs for local publishers, giving readers better access to relevant content, while simultaneously introducing publishers to new markets. Thereby, strengthening your brand, spreading the word about your publishing house and lists and most importantly, allow your books to be accessed by the diaspora too.

At the recently held CEOSpeak organised jointly by NBT and FICCI on 10 January 2016, Ian Denison, Chief Publishing and Branding, UNESCO said “Problem is not enough content is available when content is primary to get reading takeoff actively on digital devices.” He illustrated this in his presentation by showing the Worldreader icon appealing for more good quality content to be available on the platform. In India Worldreader is actively seeking good content / publishing licenses in English and other local languages especially for children ( 0-12 years) and literature for adults.

13 March 2016

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AND DISNEY INDIA BRING DISNEY’S ICONIC STORIES AND CHARACTERS CLOSER TO INDIAN CHILDREN

 

Penguin & Disney

 

 

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AND DISNEY INDIA BRING

DISNEY’S ICONIC STORIES AND CHARACTERS CLOSER TO INDIAN CHILDREN

 

PRHMarch 08, 2016, Delhi: Penguin Random House and Disney India’s Consumer Products Disney Indiabusiness today announced the launch of Disney books. Penguin Random House will now hold the rights in India for publishing Disney’s iconic Mickey & Friends characters as well as – Aladdin, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Dumbo and the cast of The Jungle Book.

Published under the Puffin imprint and aimed at young readers, the fully-illustrated books will include readers, storybooks, colouring & activity as well as novelty books.

The first series of titles will be available to consumers March 14, 2016 onwards and will include Dumbo and Aladdin colouring books, Jungle Book, Dumbo and Peter Pan Treasured Classic editions, Peter Pan and Dumbo storybooks and readers Mickey’s Round Up, Donald’s Special Delivery, Minnie’s Rainbow, Minnie Red Riding Hood and Mickey Mouse Flies the Christmas Mail.

“Puffin India has long published some of India’s finest writing for children with generations brought up on books from authors including Ruskin Bond, Sudha Murty and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. We are delighted to now be working with Disney India to bring their well-loved characters to readers with a specific range of Indian publishing”, said Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO, Penguin Random House in India.

“Disney is synonymous with storytelling. We all have grown up reading Disney stories and are familiar with Disney characters and classics such as Mickey & Friends, Aladdin, Pinocchio and many more. We are happy to be working with Puffin India to launch a series of Disney books for the new generation of readers in the country,” said Abhishek Maheshwari, VP & Head, Consumer Products, Disney India

 

For further details, please contact:

Caroline Newbury | Penguin Random House | cnewbury@penguinrandomhouse.in

Namita Jadhav | Disney India | namita.jadhav@disney.com

Richa Anand | Disney India | richa.anand@disney.com

 

About Penguin Random House:

Headquartered in New York City Penguin Random House is the international home to nearly 250 publishing imprints, with operations in 20 countries across five continents, publishing 70,000 digital and 15,000 print titles annually and with more than 100,000 eBooks available worldwide. We publish more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.

Penguin Random House in India is part of The Penguin Random House Group worldwide. As India’s longest established international publishing company, we are the proud publishers of many of India and the subcontinent’s finest writers and publishing talent. Our authors have won prizes including the Nobel Prize, the Magsaysay Award, the Jnanpith Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award, Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, Man Booker International Prize, Commonwealth Writers Award, Shakti Bhatt Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

In addition to our Indian publishing program, we also make available over 30,000 of Penguin Random House’s international titles to our readers across India and the subcontinent every year.

Penguin Random House is committed to expanding our role as a cultural institution that serves society not only with the books we publish and investments we make in new ideas, creativity, and diverse voices, but also our belief in the power of books to connect and change lives. Together, our mission is to foster a universal passion for reading by partnering with authors to help create stories and communicate ideas that inform, entertain, and inspire, and to connect them with readers everywhere and across print and digital platforms.

About Puffin India:

Puffin Books India is the children’s imprint of Penguin Books India. Started in 1939, today Puffin is one of the largest, most diverse and successful children’s brands both in India and abroad. With an award-winning range of best-selling titles, Puffin’s ever expanding publishing list spans picture books, fiction, poetry and non-fiction. With a winning combination of literary classics and appealing commercial fiction, Puffin remains a children’s books innovator and perennial reader favourite.

Some of Puffin India’s finest writers include Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Ruskin Bond, Sudha Murty, R.K. Narayan, Anita Desai, Satyajit Ray, Devdutt Pattanaik, Jerry Pinto, Payal Kapadia, Anita Nair, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Subroto Bagchi, Derek O’ Brien, Paro Anand, Subhadra Sen Gupta, Ranjit Lal.

About Disney India’s Consumer Products Business:

Disney is the largest retail character licensor in the world with US$45 billion in character merchandising retail sales globally in 2013. The Consumer Products business includes: Toys; Fashion & Home; Food, Health & Beauty (FHB); Consumer Electronics; Stationery; Publishing and Retail Sales and Marketing. The Consumer Products business plays a critical role in providing Indian consumers a chance to bring a piece of the Disney magic home through a wide range of creative and locally appealing merchandise.

 

Today, Disney-branded products are available across a million retail locations in India. Disney-branded products are present in close to 500 retail touch points including hypermarkets with more than 3,000 SKUs across categories. Working with over 150 licensees across categories, Disney India’s Consumer Products retail branding, such as the unique Disney-branded corners in prominent retail outlets including Hamley’s and Big Bazaar, continue to reach more and more consumers across the country. Disney-branded products are available across all the key online portals with branded pages on Amazon and Flipkart and with strategic presence in portals like Myntra, Jabong, Snapdeal and more.

About Disney Publishing Worldwide:

Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) is the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, magazines, and apps, igniting imagination through storytelling in ever-inventive ways. DPW creates and publishes books and magazines both vertically in-house and through an extensive worldwide licensing structure. As a leader in digital products, DPW creates best-selling eBook titles and best-in-class original apps. DPW is also committed to the educational development of children around the world through Disney Learning, which includes Disney Imagicademy, as well as Disney English and other Disney-themed learning products. Headquartered in Glendale, California, DPW publishes books, magazines and digital products in 85 countries in 75 languages. For more information, visit www.disneypublishing.com.

Caroline Newbury

VP Marketing and Corporate Communications

Random House India

Penguin Random House

 

7th Floor, Infinity Tower – C

DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana

P +91 124 4785600

F + 91 124 4785606

Palestine in India: A Writers’ Colloquium, Organised by Women Unlimited (Delhi, March 11-13, 2016)

Women Unlimited logo(Ritu Menon, founder, Women Unlimited is organising this fantastic literary festival in New Delhi. It is delicious programming. I was so looking forward to attending it but alas, I cannot. Thanks to the traffic diversions set up by the Delhi Police to allow the Art of Living three-day cultural festival to take place without a hitch on the Yamuna river bed. I am most disappointed. So those who can attend, must!) 

 

Palestine in India: A Writers’ Colloquium

 

March 11-13, 2016

Main Auditorium

                     India International Centre

           Programme

 

 

Friday, March 11, 2016, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

Film Screening: The Time That Remains

(109 min; 2009; DVD; English subtitles)

Director: Elia Suleiman

 

Recipient of the Jury Grand Prize, Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2009; Audience Award & Silver Alhambra, Grenada Film Festival Cine del Sur 2010; ACCA Jury Prize & Award for Best Director, Mar del Plata Film Festival 2009

 

Elia Suleiman’s memoir of his family under Israeli occupation continues the mood of his earlier Divine Intervention (2002).

 

Friday, March 11, 2016, 6:30 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

Memory & Imagination: A discussion on writing and resistance; on home and exile; on seeking, finding… with Mourid Barghouti and Sharif Elmusa.

 

Moderated by Ahdaf Soueif & Ritu Menon

 

 Saturday, March 12, 2016, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

Counterfacts on the Ground: A discussion on living under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, and on writing back to subvert suppression.

 

Laila El-Haddad and Adania Shibli talk to Raghu Karnad, and read from their work

 

Saturday, March 12, 2016, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

Palestine in Publishing: A discussion on the challenge of publishing and selling Palestinian writing in, and outside, Palestine.

 

Michel Moushabeck, Interlink, USA; Mahmoud Muna, Educational Bookshop, Jerusalem; Sudhanva Deshpande, Leftword Books, New Delhi & Ritu Menon, Women Unlimited, New Delhi exchange experiences and views, talk about difficulties and how they overcome them, intelligently!

 

Saturday, March 12, 2016, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

“The Blue Between Sky and Water”

 

Susan Abulhawa reads from her new book and discusses it with Githa Hariharan

 

Sunday, March 13, 2016, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

Poetry Reading: “My Country: Distant as My Heart from Me”

 

Mourid Barghouti and Tamim Albarghouti read their poetry in a mesmerising jugalbandhi

 

Sunday, March 13, 2016, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

“Stuck in Historical Amber?”: Susan Abulhawa and Sharif Elmusa speak about what it means to be “out of time, out of place”, to be never at home, and much else besides.

 

A free-wheeling conversation with well-known book critic, Sunil Sethi

 

Sunday, March 13, 2016, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Main Auditorium, IIC

 

Double Bill!!

 

“Palestine: Nothing Makes Sense, Why Should I?”

Suad Amiry performs the tragi-comedy of her situation as a Palestinian under Occupation in the West Bank.

 

Book launch: My Damascus. Suad Amiry takes the reader by the hand and walks her through the city of her childhood, interleaving Damascus in history from the 1860s to the 2000s, with family history, of roughly the same period.  A tour de force.

 

Ahdaf Soueif is the mistress of ceremonies.

11 March 2016

Press Release: SPEAKING TIGER LAUNCHES NEW INTERNATIONAL FICTION SERIES

Speaking TigerI am thrilled about this announcement. In India we get editions of books published internationally but not always easily. Some of the ways this is done is if a firm’s product manager decides to bring a local edition into the market; the consumer buys the international edition online at an exorbitant price or a distributor makes the books available in bookshops. But to have a dedicated space in a publishing house that will focus on international literature, world literature and translations. With the launch of the three titles in this series, Speaking Tiger, has had an auspicious beginning by publishing two out of the three writers on the Man Booker International Prize 2016 longlist — Eka Kurniawan and Fiston Mwanza Mujila. I remember reading Tram 83 last year and mentioning it after which the news was picked up in this part of the world.  From a publishing point of view launching such an imprint may be perceived as a risk since the local readership is not very well acquainted with these writers but one lives in hope… . For now this is a fabulous news indeed!) 

SPEAKING TIGER LAUNCHES NEW INTERNATIONAL FICTION SERIES

Speaking Tiger logoWe are pleased to announce the launch of our new series, ‘International Fiction’, which will bring you some of the best contemporary writing from around the world, either originally in English or in English translation. It will focus on fiction (novels, novellas and short stories) that is truly outstanding and original, and leaves a lasting impression on the mind.

The series kicks off this month with Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, translated from Bahasa into English by Annie Tucker. Rights to this amazing novel described as ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude kicked into another gear’ have been sold in 27 countries.  Published late last year in the US and UK, it quickly made its way to several prestigious lists, including  The Guardian’s The Year’s Best Literary Fiction, the New York Times Notable Books of 2015 and Oprah Winfrey’s Best Reads of 2015.

Hailed as ‘a literary child of Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie’ (The New York Review of Books), Eka Kurniawan is already being spoken of as a likely contender for the Nobel Prize—to quote Le Monde: ‘Original and powerful… Maybe, who knows, the judges of the Nobel Prize could, in a few years, consider giving [Eka] the prize that Indonesia has never received.’

Beauty Is a Wound will be followed in March by South African writer Imraan Coovadia’s new novel, Tales of the Metric System. Part political thriller, part family drama, part historical and human rights drama, it tells the story of modern South Africa in ten chapters that describe ten days spread over four decades, from 1970 to 2010.

Reviews of Tales of the Metric System have been superlative since its publication in South Africa, the US, Germany and elsewhere. The Mail & Guardian has described the novel as ‘an astonishing feat of imagination’ and one that people ‘will read long after our time has passed’, and the Sunday Times reviewer wrote, ‘With its elegant prose and ruthless determination to lead you to the truth, Tales of the Metric System is about as good a book as you are likely to read on South Africa’s transition from struggle to power.’

In April we will publish Tram 83, the sensational debut novel by Congolese writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila, translated from the French by Roland Glasser. Set in a night club in an unnamed Congolese mining town, Tram 83 follows a poet, Lucien, and his escapades with a cast of writers, drunkards, drug dealers, sex workers and dreamers. Mujila’s novel has been described as an ‘exuberantly dark’ tale that ‘delights in absurdities’ and extracts ‘epic poetry from violence, despair and distraction’.

With these three brilliant novels as our lead titles, we will continue to bring you books every few months from different cultures and countries that delight, absorb and enthrall.

 

Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt. Ltd
4381/4, Ansari Road
Daryaganj
New Delhi 110002
India
Phone: +91-11-47472630
e-mail: suchishree@speakingtiger.com
www.speakingtigerbooks.com

10 March 2016