Arpita Das Posts

An interview with Vidyun Sabhaney and Arpita Das about “First Hand graphic narratives” Vols 1&2

First Hand Vols 1 & 2 are a collection of reportage told in graphic format or comic style. There are a variety of stories, styles of illustration and to some extent representation of regional diversity. Turning the page to a new story brings with it an unexpected pleasure — for a brand new style of presenting a visual story. A new kind of drawing and unexpected stories. For a reader this is tremendous as at one level it is challenging to read such a lot of variety and yet it is engaging. But for the publishers of this book it must have been quite a project to put it together.
In First Hand 2 the stories are arranged thematically as per the Exclusion report. Nevertheless it is a powerful treasure trove of searing stories. “Shadow Lines” has to be the most powerful of stories in this volume for it focuses on the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar  based on a report by journalist Neha Dixit and illustrated by Priya Kuriyan. The others focus on ethnic conflict  in Bodoland in the north east of India (“There’s no place like home”), on the Devadasis or on the Jarawas of Andaman ( “Without permit, entry prohibited”). It is imperative these stories are kept alive. These are extremely tough stories and need to be heard by a wider audience.
The “byproducts” of the second volume, if ever created, will travel far. For instance these can be turned into storyboards / story cards of one panel each to be used in workshops or educational programmes. These can be used as a springboard for short animation films, again with a wide variety of applications.
Here is an interview with Vidyun Sabhaney, along with writers and illustrators to the book, Neha Dixit, Bhagwati Prasad, Vipin Yadav and Anupam Arunachalam. They speak to Souradeep Roy of the Indian Cultural Forum on the process behind the making of the book.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=110&v=DlS98i7nbnw
Following are excerpts of an interview with the editor Vidyun Sabhaney and Yoda Press publisher Arpita Das.
1. Why and how were the First Hand series conceptualized? How long did the process take from conception to publication of each book?

Vidyun: The First Hand books were initially conceptualised as non-fiction comics anthologies, as at the time there was not too much non-fiction work being made in a dedicated way. Speaking personally, I was interested in what could be produced if we encouraged artists and writers to engage with their social, political, and economic context through a platform like an anthology. That’s the sprit with which First Hand 1 was begun with myself, Orijit Sen and Arpita Das. First Hand 2 took on a slightly different approach. The first book took about three years from conceptualisation to finish, and the second book took roughly two years.

Arpita: Vidyun came to me with the idea for First Hand, to make comics out of real on-the-ground reportage in India, in early 2014. We had published our first graphic anthology on the Indian Partition, This Side That Side very successfully in the Fall of 2013, and I was immediately excited by the potential of what Vidyun was sketching out for me. Conception to publication took 2-2.5 years each time.

2. How did the name “First Hand” come about as a title for these books? What is the principle of selection for the stories to be included in the volumes?

Vidyun: The name “First Hand” reflects the spirit of the books – that they are or are based on seen and heard stories, or that someone has witnessed them. It also alludes to the process of drawing.

The first book was much more about generating a kind of content we (my co-editor Orijit Sen and I) thought was missing in the Indian comics’ scene and trying understand the many facets of non-fiction. So it was an exploration of genre and what is possible in it. For this reason, we did an open call for stories, from which we received 50-odd applications. From this we selected work using the writer’s process as a filter for this book, as well as the ‘contemporariness’ of the narratives. ‘Process’ refers to how the material that forms the base of the narrative was gathered—for example, if it was through research, interview, or personal experience. The second lens was the relationship of the work with contemporary public life, i.e., the social and political milieu of the country. A deeply personal story, while being non-fiction, would have to have some relationship with recent events or phenomena.

On the other hand, this book was a deep-dive into the theme of exclusion – so it was a challenge in a different way. To understand the length and breadth of the issue, what the data in the report was saying, and develop works accordingly was an intensive process. Many of the stories in the book are not strictly non-fiction – rather it is work that is true-to-life. In order to put forward the data holistically, we had to fictionalise and merge experiences of different people and place them in a narrative frame. In some cases, anonymity was also a concern. In addition, there were some non-fiction narratives that were selected for the book – like Water and Shadow Lines. I tried my best to develop and select work that their either reflected the report or then complemented what it was saying in a different way – for example through visual poetry (Water) or then a wordless comic (Without Permit Entry Prohibited).

Arpita: This was Vidyun again. She had a few options in mind but was always leaning in favour of First Hand, and I loved it too. The title communicated so effectively what the most vital core of the series would be. For Volume 1, there was a Call for Entries while for Volume 2, Vidyun commissioned the artists to collaborate with the writers. But for both models, what remains most important is that there is tremendous integrity in telling the story as the writer envisaged it, and excellence in terms of form.

3. Making  graphic novels is an expensive proposition in terms of all  resources, not just financial. Why choose this format to tell these stories?

Vidyun: The only aspect of comics making that is inherently more expensive than other books is the production – but even that depends on the kind of book. This has to be viewed relatively – those who work in film marvel at how much more resource efficient the medium of comics is, even as it tells a visual story. Although, comics and graphic novels come in the form of a book – they offer something very different from the written word, and need to be viewed in those terms.

There are so many reasons to work with this medium. For example, through drawing, one can evoke a detail or a feeling or a texture or a history as experience for the reader. It is also a way of seeing the world, of picking up information and metaphors that arise from a visual understanding of society. In that way, practising this medium offers a different perspective. These observations can be put forward as visual metaphor or cinematically, while using the physical space of the page to emphasise different parts of the story. The list goes on and on!

Arpita: Yes, it is a time-consuming format, and there are financial challenges as well, but for me, it is a genre that is unbelievably exciting in its potential. I also have to say that the way our two earlier graphic books, A Little Book on Men and This Side That Side continue to sell, and sort of put us on the map in terms of spelling out to our audience the kind of bold and stereotype-smashing publishing we wanted to do, almost nothing else has done it with such effectiveness. Frankly, I am waiting for a time when we start having multiple awards for graphic books to reward some of this stupendous work, and the risks we have taken to put it out there.

4. The publication of the second volume has coincided with the first ever graphic novel being nominated on the Man Booker longlist. Do you think the reception to graphic novels will change after this announcement? What has been the reception to your two books?

Vidyun: Personally I think that these are two very different spaces. Perhaps it will make non-readers of the medium more aware of it but little changes otherwise. Comics have been winning ‘mainstream’ accolades for several years now, I don’t think there’s much left for us to prove. After all, it’s a medium that can be used to tell stories well or poorly – that depends on the creator. Things only change for the field when genuine interest is taken in the distribution of comics, which currently remains very niche the world over.

Arpita: As I said, the reception has been incredibly heartening. We keep printing these books, and we are always behind on demand, which as a publisher I can tell you, is a good thing.

5. Why did you choose to base First Hand 2 on the 2015 edition of the India Exclusion Report instead of circulating an open call for submissions of original stories as you seem to have done for First Hand 1?

Arpita: CES have been our publishing partners for more than three years now, and Yoda Press publishes the India Exclusion Report annually with them. When Harsh Mander got in touch with me asking if there were other genres in which they could adapt some of the narratives emerging out of the extremely important documentation that IXR is doing, I immediately thought of the graphic genre. Because that was exactly what we had hoped to achieve with First Hand 1: bringing the Indian reality on the ground to another audience, and we succeeded. Vidyun and I had also thought from the beginning that from the second volume onwards, we should think thematically—that this the only way to build up a series. So when CES showed interest in trying something radical and new, we immediately got to work on it. The stories were all already there, incredible, chilling, uplifting, eye-opening stories. They just had to be gleaned from the documentation and told in this fabulously bold format that graphic books always make available.

Vidyun: Centre for Equity Studies (CES) approached us with the idea of converting their 2015 edition into graphic format – we accepted because of the possibilities of the stories that we could create. These are very important narratives about marginalisation that need to be told, so that we can work towards a more inclusive society. India is a shockingly unequal nation, and there are urgent issues like casteism, gender-based discrimination, communalism, economic disparity – to name a few. We felt these comics could offer an introduction to them, and also give them a visual register. Exclusion can at times hide in plain sight, and we hoped that this book could make it easier to identify and fight.

Open calls are a great way to push the field further, to encourage new voices through a platform. Since there was little non-fiction work being produced when we did First Hand 1, an open-call worked very well.

With First Hand 2 the approach was different – working in a dedicated way on a specific theme is an opportunity to engage with subject and storytelling a more detailed way. It was important that exclusion be explained in the terms of the original report, and for that reason it made sense to have a small, dedicated team that could also familiarise themselves with the report and produce accordingly.

6. Do publications like this lend themselves to travel well in other English language book markets or even other languages? Or do you see them only as India-specific books?

Arpita: Many German, French and Australian publishers have shown interest in buying rights. There is a French publisher who recently asked if they could put together the comics on women from the two volumes. I have discussed this with Vidyun and we are open to it. I had meetings at Frankfurt Book Fair 2018 with French and Australian publishers to discuss the project. Next year the Salon the Livre is doing a Guest of Honour India year, and they are showcasing some books from India for their publishers recommending them for rights purchase, and they picked First Hand 2 as one of the books. So yes, I think we are getting there.

7. Why Is there inconsistency in providing translation for text spoken or written in Hindi/Devnagari? The first story is narrated in Hindi with no translation whereas “Shadow Lines” has translations for the few lines spoken in Hindi but written in Roman script.

Vidyun: It was important to have some works in Hindi in the book as I have always felt that graphic narratives and comics should be published in a variety of languages, in their original script.

“Shadow Lines” has translations as it is reportage work, and some translation was required to explain context  – especially as the rest of the comic is in English and roman script.

Arpita: Well, because both the stories by Bhagwati Prasad were written originally by him in Hindi using the IXR data and information. Whereas, Neha’s story was written in English, and the Hindi text occurred in between. I think the two narratives were treated faithfully as they should have been, within the language of origin parameters.

8. Will “First Hand” become a platform and a launch pad for testing new voices alongside experienced storytellers?

Arpita: I think it already is. So many narratives have been drawn or told in both the existing volumes by first-time artists and storytellers. And they appear at the end alongside well-known voices. And if and when we manage to publish more volumes, its perception as a series which empowers new voices as much as it showcases established ones should only grow.

Vidyun: I think to a degree it is already that, and I am very happy that it has been able to provide this platform to both.  If we can continue this series, then it will hopefully continue in this vein.

9. Yoda Press is known for publishing unusual literature and always crackling good subjects but are not necessarily known as publishers of graphic novels (except for This Side, That Side). So why venture into the graphic novel genre? Will this become an annual feature for Yoda Press or remain as a series whose frequency is undetermined?

Arpita: Well, since 2013 we have indeed become known for our graphic anthologies as well, since we have published three in just five years since then, and these are big books, over 300 pages, each one, involving much skill and many voices. It cannot be an annual feature because each of these anthologies takes 2 years to come together at a minimum. So that is what we are looking at as a time frame.

10. What were the highs and lows of publishing Vol 1 vs Vol 2?

Arpita: The high for me as a publisher is always when the book is in my hand. The lows usually occur when there are delays in the scheduling and one hits the panic button, and then you have to calm down. I think in some ways Vol. 1 with its Call for Entries starting point was a more dynamic journey, whereas here it felt more like the work was at hand to begin with and had to be delivered. The book at the end in both cases was just splendid, so finally it was a high that outlasted the lows.

21 November 2018 

 

Panel on “The Business of Books: Is there a Gender Gap in Publishing?”

(L-R) Aditi, Aarti, Rashmi, Jaya, Shantanu and Arpita

( Update: An expanded version of this blog post was published by Times of India on their website on 16 March 2018.)

To celebrate Women’s Day, ShethePeople organised a day long Women Writer’s Fest at Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi on Saturday, 10 March 2018. There were a range of fascinating panel discussions organised. I was moderated the midday session on “The Business of Books: Is there a Gender Gap in Publishing?”.

The panel consisted of eminent publishers such as: Aarti David, VP – Publishing, SAGE India; Shantanu Duttagupta, Head of Publishing, Scholastic India; Arpita Das, founder Yoda Press and co-founder Authors Press; Aditi Maheshwari-Goyal, Director, Copyrights and Translation, Vani Prakashan; and Rashmi Menon, Managing Editor, Amaryllis. The panel was a good representation of different kinds of publishing as they exist in India/ world today. SAGE is a multinational firm specialising in HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) academic books and journals. Scholastic is a multinational firm specialising in children’s literature and is widely known for its direct marketing initiatives like school book fairs. Amaryllis is the English language imprint/firm launched by the Hindi publishing firm Manjul. Manjul Publishing is known globally for publishing the Hindi translation of Harry Potter. Recently Amaryllis announced its collaboration with HarperCollins India to distribute their books. Vani Prakashan is a family-owned business specialising in Hindi literature across disciplines and was established by Aditi’s grandfather. They also publish translations of international literature. Yodakin is an independent publishing firm co-founded by Arpita specialising in gender, social sciences academic books. They were the first to launch an LGBTQ list in India. A couple of years ago they announced a collaboration with SAGE India to co-publish titles. She is also the co-founder of a self-publishing firm called Authors Press.

The conversation which ensued was fascinating with anecdotal experience about publishing. Aarti David spoke of her entry into publishing after being told by a HR consultant that now she was the mother of a two year old child it would be very difficult for her to get a job. Fortunately the person who interviewed her at SAGE India for the post of an executive assistant was the legendary publisher, late Tejeshwar Singh. After the interview he offered her a post in the marketing department. She has never left the firm. In fact there is gender parity at SAGE evident at the senior management level too. Of course as Arpita pointed out this has to do with the insititutional culture given that one of the co-founders of SAGE is Sara Miller McCune.

Rashmi Menon asserted that this was a complicated topic as depending upon which layer of publishing function one viewed there were gender gaps to be seen. For instance in her experience gender gap was noticeable in every top layer of management but much less in the editorial departments of a publishing firm.

Arpita Das was very clear that a gender gap existed as she rightly pointed out, “Always ask who controls the money?” She too shared some powerful examples of how gender equations work within firms and the publishing eco-system. Unfortunately in her experience after many years of being a publishing professional none of these deeply embedded attitudes have disappeared or are showing any signs of lessening. To illustrate this point she spoke of the male messenger in her first publishing job who had been entrusted with the task of taking their final manuscripts to the printers. At the time of handover this person would stare at the chest of the editor who inevitably was a female. Once Arpita called him out and asked him to look directly in to her eyes and speak. Ever after that all her handovers to the printer had mistakes. Even now, years later, she finds that these scenarios are repeated with her younger colleagues and she is still having the same arguments.

Shantanu Duttagupta was the only male publisher in a women dominated panel. He was also the only publisher to be representing children’s literature which is more often than not viewed largely to be the purview of women editors. He was clear from the outset that the gender gap in their firm is rapidly narrowing. In fact according to a recent statistic released by their HR department nearly 60% of their employees are women. This includes departments that are otherwise not viewed traditionally as women-oriented roles like production, accounts, and sales. He also reiterated that in his opinion this gender gap was in all likelihood being corrected by the ever growing list of books by women where the gender role plays were being discussed, demonstrated and subverted. Classic example of this being Scholastic’s bestseller the Geronimo Stilton series that are written by an Italian woman and then translated into multiple languages.

Aditi had a fascinating perspective to share. Vani Prakashan traditionally sells in the Hindi-speaking belt of the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In her experience publishing firms established outside the metros in tier-2 and tier-3 towns as well as in the villages are increasingly being managed by women. They are even responsible for printing, publishing and promoting their books. Selling it in the market while balancing a baby on their hip. Nothing deters them from continuing with the business of publishing books. Even at their own firm it is her mother who is responsible for ensuring the GST is filed on time, the office is opened on time, all branches of the firm work efficiently with the employees clocking in on time and leaving on time too. Her mother plays an integral part of the daily running of the firm. But as Arpita pointed out that in many family owned business the role of the woman gains importance which may not necessarily be the case in corporate systems.

After listening to the various perspectives I shared my own experience in the industry. I shared how in the past nine months since the new taxation policy of GST ( 1 July 2017) was announced it has become amply clear how the business lines in this industry are divided. I say this from personal experience at having witnessed and/or participated in events that have been about the business of publishing. Soon after GST came into effect I chaired a panel discussion of tax lawyers with publishing professionals. For the first time in my career (and I have been associated with this industry since the early 1990s) I witnessed a gathering representing finance, production, and editorial. There were people from independent publishers to multinational firms. There were self-publishers. There were language publishers. There were trade, children’s literature and academic publishers. Both men and women were present with men outnumbering the women. In the past year whenever I have attended policy meetings, had conversations about the business of publishing, attended the recently concluded 32nd International Publishers Association Congress and researched for my reports on the book market of India, I have inevitably come across more men than women in key decision-making positions. By “key” I mean designations where the professionals have the authority to comment upon their firm’s business models, income-generating streams, focus on business of making money in an industry which traditionally survives on razor sharp profit margins or those who are at a liberty to speak on behalf of their companies. Having said that there is a perceptible shift in this gender composition of firms to see women workforces in accounting, sales, and production departments and some are distributors and buyers for book retail chains and increasingly men in editorial departments. This gender disparity is “reversed” where the feminisation of the creative side the publishing ecosystem is visible. Increasingly there are more and more women writers, translators, designers, freelance editors, typesetters, reviewers, bloggers, publicists, and booksellers. These creative spaces are where there is less money to be made upfront. Also it is work that can be done juggling other responsibilities like domesticity and caregiving. This part of the workforce is as critical as all the other aspects listed above but is underpaid because  a) they are perceived as being a part of the gig economy and b) because of an inherent gender bias their labour is undervalued since the costs of production are “contained” within reasonable limits. After all the end product, i.e. the book is a price sensitive commodity, even though in my humble opinion every single book is akin to being a design product and needs to be recognised in this manner. Frankly everyone ( irrespective of gender) involved in this publishing ecosystem needs to recognise the importance of being critically aware of how the business of publishing needs to be aligned severely with the creation of books and knowledge platforms. It is probably then that some form of gender parity may begin to creep into the industry. Green shoots of it are already noticeable with some key positions being held by women. Having said that feminisation of the editorial and creative community continue to exist. To my mind this appalling given how the evaluation of this industry is growing in leaps and bounds. According to the latest figures released by Nielsen Book Scan the Indian Book Market is valued at $6.5bn. This is an industry that creates something of value based upon the creative output of others, ie the authors.

So yes, I sincerely believe there is a gender gap in publishing, particularly when it comes to the business of books. There are many, many more strands I can pick up in this discussion but due to constraints of time I am unable to do so.

All said and done it was a fabulous session that according to the wonderful organisers, Kiran Manral and Shaili Chopra, not only went down well with the audience but also gained a lot of traction over social media. If it had not been for the competent emceeing of Saumya Kulshreshtha we would have continued chatting on stage for hours. There is so much to say on the topic!

13 March 2018 

 

 

JaipurBookMark speakers profiles

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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

Review of “Aziz’s Notebook” and “Violent Belongings”, HardNews, May 2013

Review of “Aziz’s Notebook” and “Violent Belongings”, HardNews, May 2013

This is a book review of two Yoda Press titles, published in HardNews magazine. The link is here:
http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2013/05/5907

‘Write down what you saw, what you heard, what you endured’


Aziz’s Notebook was written immediately after the events described, and is extremely powerful to read. Violent Belongings is an academic attempt to “trace the political economy of memory”

Aziz’s Notebook is about the two daughters of Aziz, Fataneh and Fatameh, who were arrested for being mujahideens in the early days of the Iranian or Islamic revolution. Fataneh was pregnant and Fatameh had a three-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter, Chowra. Later, they were executed by the regime. But not before they, especially Fatameh, had been put through torture, solitary confinement in a tiny cell that was actually an abandoned bathroom, electric shocks, nails being pulled out and spine being broken. (“Her head is still filled with Rajavi’s — the leader of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq organization — ideas and she is not willing to collaborate with us. She will remain in prison until she rots.”) This slim diary-cum-memoir by Aziz, from 1981 to 1988, when his daughters were taken away by the new regime and ultimately put to death, was written for his grandchildren, though they would accompany the elders every week to visit their mother in prison. The immediate reason for their arrests was that Fataneh and Fatameh had stood for election as candidates for the Mojahedin-e-Khalq in the towns of Gachsran and Shiraz. These were the first legislative elections held under the Islamic Republic. In the book, Aziz attempts to record his memories and observations. He is an “old man of seventy, with trembling hands, bloodshot eyes, a broken heart and a life that was swept by the wind, the pernicious effect of this revolution,” but it is his “inner voice” that shouts: “Write down what you saw, what you heard and what you endured.”

Many years later, when the grandchildren had fled to France, to be with their father, a “political refugee”, they would watch and help their father build a “museum” to their mama in their flat. An empty wardrobe — “the same size as a coffin and looked like one too”— with Persian calligraphy engraved in red on its door which meant “Nothing”. Inside, the transparent shelves were slowly stocked with all the possessions of Fatameh that could be retrieved from her Iranian home and prison. But their father found it very difficult to answer his children’s questions about what exactly happened to their mother. Many of the answers lie in their grandfather’s continuous text.
The structure of Aziz’s Notebook is in three sections. The first is a translation of Aziz’s real notebook, the second is Chowra’s account of discovering her grandfather’s diary and the painful journey she embarked upon in trying to access what he had written, and finally, there is a selection of correspondence between the family members (1978-1992). It is interesting to compare the tenor of each section.

Aziz’s writing is focused, taut with details, dates and journeys, trying to recreate the horrific period as correctly as possible for his family. It must have been excruciatingly painful for him to write it but he seems to be determined. Whereas, when Chowra begins to write, she opens her narrative with an account of her brother’s and her flight from Teheran to join their father in France. It is composed and flows chronologically. Then it begins to waver and meander as she recalls incidents that link it to what she is writing. At times, this style becomes confusing to follow but is quite understandable (and not at all unusual), given how, as a woman, she is trying to piece together a part of her history, more importantly, derive an image of a mother whom she never really knew, save for some hazy memories of a woman sitting behind a glass partition in prison trying to hold the telephone with both hands to speak to her visitors. Chowra solicits friend Sarah’s help to translate her grandfather’s Persian manuscript but the project is quickly abandoned: “Sarah discovered the reality of a buried history: her country, her society, her history.” Experiencing extreme violence first-hand and living in a state of constant terror is not an enviable position to be in, as in the case of Aziz, but to write about it requires stupendous perseverance and mental strength. Yet, as Chowra discovers, the memories are permanent for the survivor.

Violent Belongings (first published in 2008) is focused on the relation of violence and culture in the modern world, particularly on how Partition had a resounding effect on history for a long time after 1947. Its most obvious impact seems to be on the way the Indian subcontinental diaspora redefined and realigned its identities in a post-colonial world. Speaking from her experience and engagement with the Indian diaspora, Kavita Dahiya discovers how the events of Partition continue to resonate in contemporary life and communities are “collectively created and contested through various media, in postcolonial India and ethnic America”.

According to her, these discourses continue to reside deeply in the consciousness of these societies, albeit through their existence in literature, films and other modes of cultural expression. Research on international migration reveals that currently 190 million people reside in a country where they were not born, while there are 24.5 million internally displaced people in the world, making one in 35 humans in the world a migrant. Hence, it is not surprising that generations of writers, filmmakers, cinematographers, historians, feminists and academic discourses are preoccupied with how the “scene of violence that becomes ordinary during Partition and refashions everyday life” has left an indelible impact in literature, cinema, memoirs and verbal accounts. Apart from English, much of this material is to be found in accounts recorded in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Punjabi.

Reading two books in quick succession dealing with an extremely violent chapter in a nation’s history is a disturbing exercise. But, they are differentiated in treatment. Aziz’s Notebook was written immediately after the events described, and is extremely powerful to read. Violent Belongings is an academic attempt to “trace the political economy of memory” and to understand the senseless losses of those who have endured, inhabited and survived ethnic violence and displacement, both in contemporary South Asia and in the Indian subcontinent of 1947. It goes over much familiar ground covered in many published discourses on Partition. It will remain a useful handbook for its analysis of literature and media linked to Partition.

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, Delhi, 13 May 2013

Chowra Makaremi Aziz’s Notebook: At the heart of the Iranian Revolution Translator, Renuka George Yoda Press. Pg 150. pp. Rs. 250. Publ. 2013.

Kavita Dahiya Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India Yoda Press, Delhi, 2013. Pp. Pg.250. Rs. 450