On 23 Jan 2021, the Romain Rolland Prize was announced. At first there was a session on the “Challenges of Translation” with Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Diplomat. Counsellor for Education, Science and Culture at French Embassy in India / Ambassade de France en Inde & Director of French Institute in India, Maina Bhagat, Director, Oxford Bookstores & Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Chinmoy Guha, translator, Dr Christine Cornet, Attachée Débat d’Idées et Livre, INSTITUT FRANÇAIS, Delhi with Jaya Bhattacharji Rose.
The winners of the prize are translator Dr S A Vengada Soupraya Nayagar and publisher Amutharasan Paulraj of Thadagam Publishers for the #Tamil translation of the French novel ‘Le mariage de plaisir’ (“A Marriage of Pleasure”). by the eminent award-winning French-Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun. The publisher and translator will be invited by the French Institute in India to the Paris Book Fair 2021 (Livre Paris 2021) where India will be the guest of honour.
Romain Rolland Book Prize, started in 2017, aims at awarding the best translation of a French title into any Indian language, including English. An Indo-French jury takes into account the qualities of the translation and the publication.
The presentation of the prize was followed by a fascinating conversation between the author, translator and publisher with Jaya Bhattacharji Rose. Interesting details emerged from the discussion especially since Tahar Ben Jelloun firmly believes that “Translation is a gift of friendship from an unknown language and culture.” There were some wonderful insights from Dr Nayagar regarding the process of translating and facing the challenges of communicating cultural practices accurately without any faux pax.
This AKLF event is in association with Institut Francais and Alliance Du Bengale.
The recording of the conversation is available at: https://www.facebook.com/TheAKLF/videos/247540610074687/
Jaipur BookMark is a critical component of Jaipur Literature Festival . The tag line for JBM is “where books mean business”. It is certainly one of the largest literary festivals organised globally and has developed a brand identity that is synonymous with fascinating conversations and emergence of new ideas. It is inevitable that Jaipur BookMark was established as an independent B2B platform while being closely aligned to Jaipur Literature Festival. It makes perfect sense to capitalise upon this fantastic congregation of publishing professionals at the literature festival enabling a cross pollination of experiences and perhaps new synergies developing. It is also attaining critical significance in the global publishing calendar for Jaipur BookMark is held approximately four months after the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the mecca of rights sales. Shifting the base from Europe to Asia, to a significant book market such as India, enables publishing professionals to review their conversations of Frankfurt as well as explore new ideas before buckling down for the next few months and working on their lists.
So far there have been six editions of Jaipur BookMark consisting of more or less the same format. It is a mix of panel discussions, business panels and focused group discussions. There are plenty of networking opportunities worked into the programming. For instance, the event begins on the eve of the main literature festival enabling participants to have key conversations without any distractions on the business of publishing. There are plenty of coffee breaks and a longish lunch enabling conversations to happen unhurriedly. The weather is good. The winter sun is perfect. There is a crispness in the air that is welcome. The impeccable hospitality arrangements enable speakers and participants to mingle, sit at various tables and chat leisurely. Emphasising these aspects of the interactions is as important as the business angle of the conclave. As Jeremy Trevathan, Publisher, Macmillan says “From the evidence before me in Jaipur the Indian book publishing scene is obviously developing rapidly and the JBM was a perfect snapshot of the diverse challenges and exciting opportunities this affords. Whether it was a panel on diverse retail models or the commercial health of conglomerate publishing versus independents the discussion was lively, engaged and, yes, thrilling. “
The Jaipur BookMark management ensures that there is a crackling good mix of professionals. The impressive 2019 edition had:
Delegations from 20 countries: Australia, USA, Canada, France, Nepal, Lithuania, Paraguay, Switzerland, Tunisia, Argentina, UK, Ireland, Norway, Germany, UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, India, amongst others.
In fact the keynote address for the 2019 edition was given by Juergen Boos, President and CEO, Frankfurt Book Fair on “Freedom to publish“. He referred to JBM and JLF as “confluence of cultures” and after expressing his concern about the growing threats on freedom of speech and expression around the world, he urged those publishers present in the audience who “As discoverers and disseminators of ideas and free thought, we, as a community, have a greater responsibility to uphold freedom of expression. At the same time, we cannot withhold our criticism of its misuse.”
All the discussions are fascinating. On the third day of the 2019 business conclave, Friday 25 Jan 2019, I moderated a session on “Indies vs Giants”. The scope of the discussion was: “Independent publishers with lower overheads are finding their niche position in the publishing industry around the world, even as publishing giants are consolidating their positions. This session talks about creative risk taking and the tools brave, new publishers adopt.” The panellists were publishers Vera Michalski-Hoffman (Libella group), Karthika VK ( Westland/Amazon), Jeremy Trevathan (Macmillan), and Anna Solding (Midnight Sun Publishing). Vera Michalski-Hoffman also delivered the keynote address. Born in Basel, Switzerland, in a family with Swiss, Russian and Austrian roots, Vera Michalski-Hoffmann 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 a foundation named after her late husband, The Jan Michalski 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. She also acquired The Polish Bookshop in Paris. Her keynote address was a fascinating account of the emergence of the Libella group and its publishing history, including some of its A&M. Jaipur BookMark offers such opportunities that are to be treasured.
The panel discussions are varied and interesting such as this one on children’s literature: “Writing for Children, Writing as Children”. The panelists included Anoushka Sabnis, Maja Lunde, Paro Anand and Rohini Chowdhury in conversation with Manisha Chaudhry.
JBM has various components such as platforms to present unpublished manuscripts iWrite where book deals can be signed. It is a platform where authors have been known to find literary agents too.
The Jaipur BookMark 2020 edition promises to be equally, if not more, exciting for while it offers many spaces for established professionals to meet, it also enables new and emerging authors to participate.