Eye Spy Posts

Jaya’s newsletter 8 ( 14 Feb 2017)

It has been a hectic few weeks as January is peak season for book-related activities such as the immensely successful world book fair held in New Delhi, literary festivals and book launches. The National Book Trust launched what promises to be a great platform — Brahmaputra Literary Festival, Guwahati. An important announcements was by Jacks Thomas, Director, London Book Fair wherein she announced a spotlight on India at the fair, March 2017.  In fact, the Bookaroo Trust – Festival of Children’s Literature (India) has been nominated in the category of The Literary Festival Award of International Excellence Awards 2017. (It is an incredible list with fantabulous publishing professionals such as Marcia Lynx Qualey for her blog, Arablit; Anna Soler-Pontas for her literary agency and many, many more!) Meanwhile in publishing news from India, Durga Raghunath, co-founder and CEO, Juggernaut Books has quit within months of the launch of the phone book app.

In other exciting news new Dead Sea Scrolls caves have been discovered; in an antiquarian heist books worth more than £2 m have been stolen; incredible foresight State Library of Western Australia has acquired the complete set of research documents preliminary sketches and 17 original artworks from Frane Lessac’s Simpson and his Donkey, Uruena, a small town in Spain that has a bookstore for every 16 people  and community libraries are thriving in India!

Some of the notable literary prize announcements made were the longlist for the 2017 International Dylan Thomas Prize, the longlist for the richest short story prize by The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the highest Moroccan cultural award has been given to Chinese novelist, Liu Zhenyun.

Since it has been a few weeks since the last newsletter the links have piled up. Here goes:

  1. 2017 Reading Order, Asian Age
  2. There’s a pair of bills that aim to create a copyright small claims court in the U.S. Here’s a breakdown of one
  3. Lord Jeffery Archer on his Clifton Chronicles
  4. An interview with award-winning Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan
  5. Pakistani Author Bilal Tanweer on his recent translation of the classic Love in Chakiwara
  6. Book review of Kohinoor by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand
  7. An article on the award-winning book Eye Spy: On Indian Modern Art
  8. Michael Bhaskar, co-founder, Canelo, on the power of Curation
  9. Faber CEO speaks out after winning indie trade publisher of the year
  10. Scott Esposito’s tribute to John Berger in LitHub
  11. An interview with Charlie Redmayne, Harper Collins CEO
  12. Obituary by Rakhshanda Jalil for Salma Siddiqui, the Last of the Bombay Progressive Writers.
  13. Wonderful article by Mary Beard on “The public voice of women
  14. Enter the madcap fictional world of Lithuanian illustrator Egle Zvirblyte
  15. Salil Tripathi on “Illuminating evening with Prabodh Parikh at Farbas Gujarati Sabha
  16. The World Is Never Just Politics: A Conversation with Javier Marías
  17. George Szirtes on “Translation – and migration – is the lifeblood of culture
  18. Syrian writer Nadine Kaadan on welcoming refugees and diverse books
  19. Zhou Youguang, Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111
  20. Legendary manga creator Jiro Taniguchi dies
  21. Pakistani fire fighter Mohammed Ayub has been quietly working in his spare time to give children from Islamabad’s slums an education and a better chance at life.
  22. #booktofilm
    1. Lion the memoir written by Saroo Brierley has been nominated for six Oscars. I met Saroo Brierley at the Australian High Commission on 3 February 2017. 
    2. Rachel Weisz to play real-life gender-fluid Victorian doctor based on Rachel Holmes book
    3. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda to star in Netflix’s adaptation of Kent Haruf’s incredibly magnificent book Our Souls at Night
    4. Saikat Majumdar says “Exciting news for 2017! #TheFirebird, due out in paperback this February, will be made into a film by #BedabrataPain, the National Award winning director of Chittagong, starring #ManojBajpayee and #NawazuddinSiddiqi. As the writing of the screenplay gets underway, we debate the ideal language for the film. Hindi, Bengali, English? A mix? Dubbed? Voice over?
    5. 7-hour audio book that feels like a movie: Julianne Moore, Ben Stiller and 166 Other People Will Narrate George Saunders’ New Book – Lincoln in the Bardo.
    6. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson on creating those jaw-dropping visual effects

New Arrivals ( Personal and review copies acquired)

  • Jerry Pinto Murder in Mahim 
  • Guru T. Ladakhi Monk on a Hill 
  • Bhaswati Bhattacharya Much Ado over Coffee: Indian Coffee House Then and Now 
  • George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo 
  • Katie Hickman The House at Bishopsgate 
  • Joanna Cannon The Trouble with Goats and Sheep 
  • Herman Koch Dear Mr M 
  • Sudha Menon She, Diva or She-Devil: The Smart Career Woman’s Survival Guide 
  • Zuni Chopra The House that Spoke 
  • Neelima Dalmia Adhar The Secret Diary of Kasturba 
  • Haroon Khalid Walking with Nanak 
  • Manobi Bandhopadhyay A Gift of Goddess Lakshmi: A Candid Biography of India’s First Transgender Principal 
  • Ira Mukhopadhyay Heroines: Powerful Indian Women of Myth & History 
  • Sumana Roy How I Became A Tree 
  • Invisible Libraries 

14 February 2017 

Eye Spy Indian Art: A peephole view

( This article was published in Mint on 11 February 2017. Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai’s book, which recently won the Hindu-Goodword children’s book award, takes its young readers on a ride through the history of modern Indian art. The book is published by Takshila Publication and is available on Amazon. ) 

In 2015, at a workshop organized by art educators Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai during DAG Modern’s exhibition, A Visual History Of Indian Modern Art, in Mumbai, children played an “eye spy” game. They were each given a cut-out of an eye that was part of a painting in the gallery; and they had to find the match. When they found the right painting, they had to write the name of the artist, the year of conception, the name of the painting and the school of art it belonged to.

The success of this experiment led Khoda and Pai to attempt the game in book form. Eye Spy Indian Art, a tactile book with a number of flaps, foldouts, stickers and die-cuts, has just won the Hindu Young World—Goodbooks Best Author award at The Hindu Lit for Life.

The excitement of the game, say the authors, really begins with the book cover. “A cover without a title? Why not? We added an element of intrigue by showing a pair of blue eyes peering through die-cut sockets. At first glance, the eyes look human, but on opening the cover, one is presented with a Kalighat painting of a cat,” says Pai.

Eye Spy contextualizes company painting, moving to Raja Ravi Varma’s academic realism and stopping at the Baroda school. It offers a comprehensive understanding of the emergence of art movements in India; along with the independence movement, artists were consciously trying to carve their own identity through a distinct art language.

It was their passion for art education that brought the authors, who are actually management and communication professionals, together. “It became crucial to generate awareness about what art learning can offer in terms of transformative thinking,” says Khoda. She had already set up the Art1st Foundation, which works in the field of art education, when she met Pai. “Ritu had written school books but she wanted to create literature on Indian art which could be taken to a much larger audience. And that’s where we connected,” says Pai. “We were concerned that children do not know the fundamentals of art, our rich art history, or about our Indian artists and their life journey. We decided to make books that would instil a sense of pride and heighten awareness about our rich visual art heritage.”

The Hindi version of ‘Raza’s Bindu’.

The Hindi version of ‘Raza’s Bindu’.

Their first book together was Raza’s Bindu, published by Scholastic India. They linked it with the basic concepts of art—dots and lines— to engage children, realizing that Raza’s vibrant art appealed greatly to children: When you bring pen to paper, what emerges first is a bindu, they say. This book has now been translated and published in Hindi by Eklavya.

The response to both books seems to have been tremendous; several schools across India have included them in the curriculum. Publishers such as Tulika and Tara Books have earlier published wonderful titles introducing art to children, but Eye Spy is probably the first innovative experiment in print introducing children to a timeline in modern Indian art.

11 February 2017 

Production Process for “Eye Spy: Indian Art” by Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai

While researching for an article on Eye Spy Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai shared a detailed note on the production process for the exquisitely produced book. Since it was too long to accommodate in the article I am reproducing it here with their permission. It is worth reading to understand how a book can be made. 

Children enjoy tactile activity. So we build in a great number of flaps, foldouts, stickers and die cuts, besides drawing and painting exercises. Usually, the artwork determines the production treatment and we work really hard over this. We never choose effect over relevance, and we are pleased that many readers have noticed the thought behind every page.

We chose Manipal Technologies to produce the book. Their technical expertise and availability of skilled manual workforce made it our only choice for the level of complication involved. Extensive manual tipping meant that the forms had to be perfectly organised for binding in the correct order.

• Cover die-cut had to be registered perfectly with the image on the inner second cover
• Tracing sheet (page 39) and Transparency sheet (page 43) had to be perfectly tipped in, covering only parts of the page
• All eight perforated, foldout section separators had to be tipped manually.
• Die-cuts (page 65 and page 93) had to be registered perfectly with the image on the inner second cover
• Flaps on page 83 and 139-140 were manually pasted
• Stickers (with the “eyes”) had to be perfectly kiss-cut to match the images below that children will stick them over

Production process and special paper: Aqueous coating on inside covers; UV spot treatment on eyes on inner cover; foldouts; flaps; die-cuts; stickers; perforation; tracing sheet; transparency sheet.

Vanita has designed and printed corporate calendars with MTL with a greater complexity level. These were relatively simpler operations. The complication arises while planning when they are trying to organize forms since there are different sheets and papers involved, and during prepress because it requires detailed DTP work such as precise keylines, diecuts, etc. Moreover, it was the first time that MTL packaged as many and diverse special operations in one product. This was appreciated by PrintWeek India Awards 2016 jury who gave the book Special Mention in the “Innovative Print Product” category.

We never force a treatment. It must add to the idea. For instance, a transparency sheet revealing the various arms of Durga in Manjit Bawa’s artwork on page 112 would not make sense because there we are talking colours. But Nandalal Bose’s mastery of lines and strokes lends itself to the transparency solution. So that children can see the emotion strokes can add to a painting. Likewise, the die cuts on Sultan Ali’s work on page 93 -95. We want children to notice the expression on the creatures, and the idea is in sync with “Eye” spying game.

6 February 2017