Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rajdeep Mukherjee to join Harvard Business Press

Rajdeep Mukherjee is to join Harvard Business Press next month.

Mukherjee, who has been with Pan Macmillan for the past 11 years, makes his move to, for him, a new area of publishing - business books.

Harvard Business Press is part of Tata McGraw Hill in India.

LBR achieves a milestone

The Limca Book of Records has completed 20 years of docunmenting records. At a gala celebration in the capital, Vijaya Gose, editor announced names of 20 Indians of the year, up from the usual five.

The book was launched by eight of the 20 Indians of the year, which included Amitabh Bachchan, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief G Madhavan Nair, senior photographer Raghu Rai and senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, among others. Others in the list, who were not present on the occasion were actor Naseeruddin Shah, singer Lata Mangeshkar, writer Mahashweta Devi, shooter Abhinav Bindra, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, badminton player Saina Nehwal and footballer Baichung Bhutia besides others.

The Hindi and Malayalam versions of the book were also unveiled on the occasion.

The first LBR was launched in 1990.

Gmail lab now in nine Indian languages

Google's Gmail lab is now to be available in 49 languages, nine of which are Indian.

Marking the online e-mail service's fifth birthday, Google announced it is going global with its Gmail Labs box of quirky functions it launched last year in English. Features include undo send, a way of retracting an e-mail up to five seconds after you hit the send button; mail goggles, which makes you solve some math questions before sending a message, to make it harder to send messages while inebriated; and a forgotten attachment reminder, which reminds you to attach a file if you mention one in your message.

The Indian languages are Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu.

The other languages are Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, UK English, US English, Ukrainian, or Vietnamese.

Tharoor starts poll campaign online

Ever since he took the plunge into the famously chaotic world of Indian politics early this month, Tharoor has quietly reinvented himself as a desi neta. Business suits are out, home-spun khadi is in, according to a Sify report.

Strenuously fighting off the ‘outsider’ tag - a favourite attack theme of his political opponents - Tharoor, sporting a white khadi mundu and shirt with the party-coloured shawl draped around his shoulders, looks confident about his new vocation and his place in it.

Fish-sellers, slum-dwellers, rickshaw-pullers, taxi-drivers: These are not characters in his new novel or the kind of people Shashi Tharoor would have rubbed shoulders with in his high-flying job as a UN bureaucrat. But the Congress candidate from this high-profile aware Kerala constituency is determined to impress this motley crowd of voters that he is their best hope in the general elections. And, going by his radiant and boyish smile, it appears he is having a great time communicating with this new cast of characters.

Gojri conference held at Kathua

A two day Gojri Ethno-Cultural Conference organized by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages was hled at Kathua at Town Hall on March 28 and 29. More than 300 prominent writers, poets, artists, intellectuals and observers from Jammu and Kashmir and adjoining states participated in this event, being organized after the gap of two year in the state.

In his inaugural address Mian Bashir Ahmed said that since 1947 Gujjars are fighting a full-fledged war for their existence. He impressed upon the intellectuals and writers of Gujjars community to chalk out a strategy for future and act upon vigorously and forcefully. He said the Gojri is one of the ancient languages of India and we have to jointly work for its preservation and propagation.

In his address Dr Javaid Rahi, Head of Gojri wing of State Academy stated that we are expecting tangible results from this conference. He said that Gojri wing of academy has devised a two way plan to develop the Gojri in a time frame manner. "On the one side we are publishing the rare of the rarest books of Gojri and modern literature and on the other hand we are working on a prestigious project where under 50 world classics of English, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit to be rendered into Gojri till 2010."

14th century poem inspires $30 mn dress

Indian origin actress Kavita Sidhu has been chosen by top Malaysian designers to wear a $30 million gown at a fundraising event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Called "Nightingale of Kuala Lumpur", the dress has been designed by top fashion designer Faisol Abdullah of fashion house Jendela, with 750 pieces of diamonds weighing over 1,000 carats held together by a pear-shaped 70-carat diamond from jeweller Mouawad. Faisol said the dress was inspired by a poem entitled The Rose and the Nightingale by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz.

Bollywood can take Faiz to youth, says daughter

Legendary Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz has been an integral part of Indian cultural psyche and his daughter Salima Hashmi believes that Bollywood can take Faiz's poetry to the youth, according to a PTI report.

"Gulon Mein Rang Bharay", a popular poem written by Faiz while he was in jail in Pakistan, has been used in the upcoming film Sikandar by director Piyush Jha. The film revolves around the life of a young boy growing up in violence torn Kashmir."Poetry is a powerful tool to bring people together just like Bollywood and in times of strife, artistes like Faiz become bridges to unite people from both sides of the border,"

Hashmi is in India for talks regarding a cross-cultural theatre festival for peace. Hashmi, who owns the copyright to all her father's work, said, "My father believed that once a poem is published it is people's property and I believe the same. Faiz is being used in India in films and theatre and it reflects how revered he is here." Jha, who took special permission from Hashmi to use the song in Sikandar, said "Gulon Mein" was one of his favourite poems while growing up and the poem kept coming to him while writing the story of the film.

Jungle Book reaches Germany

Hyderabad-based animation, gaming and entertainment company DQ Entertainment (DQE) has partnered with German broadcaster ZDF and its distribution and licensing arm ZDF Enterprises to reincarnate Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book for the first time in high definition television series and television feature format.

The budget of the project is pegged at approximately €9 million (Rs 606.53 million) and will be funded through pre-sales and co-production deals across the globe.

The Jungle Book deal will be led by DQE wherein the company will hold the majority global rights including television, distribution, home video, VoD, publishing and licensing and merchandising. As co-producers, ZDF/ ZDF-E will have the right to appoint executive producers for the project with full editorial and distribution rights for Europe (excluding French, English and Irish territories), Middle East and Latin America.

"This is a major milestone for the growth of DQE's home grown IP initiatives, and represents a bold step forward in terms of international production, licensing and distribution for our company," said DQE Group chairman and CEO Tapaas Chakravarti. To exploit the product in France and other French territories, DQE has collaborated with French broadcaster TF-1 Broadcasting and its distribution and licensing arm TF-1 Enterprises.

London-based NBC Universal, meanwhile, has been given the responsibility for distribution of the project's home video in territories such as UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and Japan while it is in advance negotiations for other territories also.

"Joining hands with ZDF Group of companies from Germany, TF-1 Group of companies from France and NBC Universal, London has added tremendous strength to the production of this brand Jungle Book," Chakravarti said. "This has almost guaranteed very strong distribution for all platform of television, video, VOD and merchandising in entire Europe, Middle East and Latin America while, Asian nations and North America are joining hands shortly," added Chakravarti.

According to DQE, the company is currently in talks with other European and international distributors for co-production and acquisition deals for the forthcoming series. The book will be visually translated into a 52 episode animated series wherein the first season of the 52x11 minute series will be delivered by 2010. This will be followed by a 60-minute TV feature.

Said ZDF international co-productions and acquisitions for children's and youth programming - head Nicole Keeb, "Jungle Book is a classical property and with its modern 3D adaptation perfectly fits into ZDF's programming. We particularly like the idea that Mowgli and his friends will come to life in their homeland: India."

Taslima's visa extended by six months

Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has got yet another extension of her visa for six months with India indicating that her request for permanent residentship in the country would be taken up only by the new government after general elections.

The author was in India recently in connection with her visa extension. She was, however, told that she should pursue the issue from outside as it was not advisable for her to be in India due to security reasons. Sources in the home ministry said Taslima's visa was extended till August 16.

Though she had applied for resident permit, she was asked to take up the issue after polls. The author had left India after getting her visa extended as it was not advisable for her to stay here, they added. The 46-year-old author was packed off from her Kolkata residence and shifted to Jaipur in November 2007 when some Muslim organisations resorted to state-wide agitation in West Bengal demanding her deportation to Bangladesh.

She had to face protests over her controversial book Dwikhandito (Split in Two). Though the author later removed "objectionable" lines from the book, it failed to soothe the tempers of fundamentalists who even issued threats, forcing her to leave for Jaipur. Later, Rajasthan government too decided to shift her to Delhi after receiving certain inputs of threat to her life.

Currently, Taslima's Bangladeshi passport stands invalid. She holds a European Union passport issued by the Swedish government.

Orient releases Storytellers

Storytellers is the series with which Orient BlackSwan has in association with BookBox kick-started explorations into literature’s interface with multimedia. Using the concept of SLS, widely regarded as a cost-effective and scientific solution to illiteracy, Storytellers showcases sensitive, culture-specific content with emphasis on creative adaptations of the local and the traditional. It is an innovative integration of education and entertainment.

Storytellers is more than just a set of story books. Each set of five books is accompanied by an interactive and animated CD/VCD. This unique combination of interesting and colourful stories uses Same Language Subtitling (SLS), a new concept that helps a child relate phonetic sounds with visual sub-titles to accelerate the development of reading skills.

Storytellers has been designed to inculcate reading habit in young children in the age-group 5–8 years. The first ten books in the series were released in Mumbai, on 1 March 2008, by renowned actor/director, Aamir Khan and in Kolkata, on 29 April 2008 by legendary singer, Usha Uthup will be launching the next in the Storytellers series. The third set is titled Gattu Tales and it aims to bring wholesome entertainment and education to children. The central character in the stories, Gattu, is based on a popular character from Baa Bahoo Aur Baby, a primetime show on Star Plus, telecast every Saturday and Sunday at 9.30 p.m. When a parakeet, squirrel, chameleon, mouse, and a langoor monkey enter Gattu’s world, the stories unfold in extraordinary ways. In the process, Gattu learns the art of sensitive human-animal interaction from his mother, Baa.

Each book in the set is available with an animated CD/VCD with the animated story, a print and paint colouring book and games. All five books are available in a value pack with an animated CD/VCD.

Ramachandra Guha moves to Penguin India

Penguin Books has acquired the rights to publish seven books by the renowned historian and biographer Ramachandra Guha, in what is perhaps the most significant literary acquisition in recent times. According to reports, Guha will get an advance of Rs 1 crore for the books.

The first of the seven books that Penguin will publish, in 2010, is The Makers of Modern India. This major work shall trace the evolution of modern India from the nineteenth century to the present through the lives and works of the country’s most influential political thinkers.
The Past and Future of Indian Democracy, a book of essays on the issues and individuals who together define, champion or challenge the idea of democracy in free India, will be published in 2011.

Subsequently, Penguin will publish Guha’s magnum opus, a definitive two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi. This, the biggest, most comprehensive and important biography of Gandhi ever, will equally be a portrait of India and South Africa in his lifetime and an examination of his contemporaries in the struggles he led. The two volumes will be published in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

These four titles are certain to be the biggest non-fiction works in the subcontinent over the next few years.

In addition to these, Penguin India will re-issue three titles from Ramachandra Guha’s remarkable backlist. Revised and expanded editions of Savaging the Civilized, Guha’s biography of Verrier Elwin; Environmentalism: A Global History; and The States of Indian Cricket, a collection of Guha’s cricket writings, will all be published in 2011. Penguin already publishes Ecology and Equity, Guha’s book on environmental issues (co-authored with Madhav Gadgil).

Ramachandra Guha is among the most widely respected historians and non-fiction writers of our times. Born in Dehradun in 1958, and educated in Delhi and Calcutta, Guha pursued an academic career for ten years before becoming a full-time writer. He has written on a variety of subjects including environmentalism, sociology, social and political history, and cricket. Over the years, his books have been critically acclaimed and have found a widespread popular following as well. This is especially true of his recent book India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy, which was published last year. Also in 2008, Guha was named one of the hundred most influential intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. Early this year, Guha was awarded the Padma Bhushan. He is also managing trustee of the New India Foundation, a non-profit body that funds research on modern Indian history.

Ramachandra Guha’s move to Penguin is among the biggest events in the Indian publishing industry in recent years. Speaking about his move to Penguin India, Ramachandra Guha said: ‘I am delighted to be published by Penguin. I have long admired their excellence in all aspects of publishing—editing, production, design and marketing. I look forward to a long and productive association’.

Ravi Singh, Publisher, Penguin Books India, added: ‘It’s a great privilege to be the publishers of such an original and influential thinker and historian. These books, to be published over the next six years, are on the most significant and fascinating aspects of our national life. It doesn’t get any bigger or more important than this in contemporary non-fiction.’

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Publishers scramble to publish on Goody

The fall of human masses was a given. That the publishers have joined them with such a vengeance is also perhaps not a surprise as selling books takes top priority.

Publishers are scrambling to bring out books on Jade Goody, who died on March 22.

Goody's story began to be followed by Indian media after her infamous spat with Shilpa Shetty on the sets of Big Brother.

Sources close to Goody's family said that they were furious with John Blake Publishing, which has renamed the paperback release of Goody's second book, Catch A Falling Star, published in September, as Jade: Fighting to the End. The publisher has also changed the front cover to include her dates of birth and death, despite the book containing no reference to her battle against cancer. “It is being passed off as current, when it isn't,” a friend of Goody said.

The book is being rushed to stores and is expected to be on the shelves by the end of this week, where it will be in direct competition with Forever in My Heart, Goody's official “cancer diary”, published by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corporation, the parent company of The Times.

A proportion of profits from the HarperCollins book will be donated to Marie Curie Cancer Care. A spokeswoman for the publisher said that it was scheduled for release in late April, but that it may be brought forward.

John Blake, of John Blake Publishing, denied that he was cashing in by renaming his company's book. He said: “The advance has been earned back and all the royalties from ours will go to the boys.”

Women more avid readers than men

A new survey indicates that women are more avid readers of books than men.

According to the British survey, women know how to read properly, while men have a desultory and, at best, casual approach to books -- in fact, the fair sex cannot put a book down once they begin it. Men, on the other hand, are much less likely to keep up this sort of pace. Twice as many men as women admitted that they never finish a book.

The survey of 2,000 people found different types of readers. 48% of women can be considered to be page turners, or avid readers, compared with only 26 % of men, The Guardian reported.

Slow Worms are those who spend a long time reading, but who take their books very seriously and finish them. They can often manage only one or two books a year. This group was made up by 32% of male respondents and 18 %women.

Serial Shelvers have shelves full of books that have never been opened and are not likely to be -- 17% of women and 20% of men fall into this category.

A similar survey carried out in December found half of men and one third of women have lied about what they have read to try and impress friends.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mahasweta Devi, VS Naipaul in Man Booker shortlist

Mahasweta Devi and VS Naipaul are among the 14 writers from 12 countries who are in the running for this year’s Man Booker International Prize.

Also on the list is doube Booker winner Peter Carey from Australia. Others in the list include Manuel Vargas from Peru, UK's James Kelman and three Americans including Evan S Connell. Also on the list are Croatian Dubravka Ugresic and Russian Ludmila. Arnost Lustig from the Czech Republic and Italian Antonio Tabucchi complete the list.

The £60,000 award, instituted in 2004, is different from the annual and better-known Man Booker Prize. This one recognises a writer’s life-time achievement rather than judging him or her on the basis of the latest work.

It is given every two years to a writer who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in English.

The previous two winners of the award are the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare and the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. Kadare won the inaugural one in 2005. This year’s contenders were chosen by a panel of judges that included Amit Chaudhuri.

The winner will be announced in May.

Old book sheds new light on Darwin

Some books found in a storage room at the University of Cambridge shed new light on the student life of Charles Darwin.

The six leather-bound books, discovered within the past year, include a list of debts owed and paid by some of the students who attended the university during the years in which Darwin was there. Listed are some of Darwin's expenses from 1828 to 1831.

They books show Darwin had accounts with local businesses in Cambridge and that the university kept a record of those debts, said John van Wyhe, director of the Darwin Online Project, which is based at the University of Cambridge and which plans to post the documents on its Web site Monday.

The books show Darwin paid people to clean his chimney, polish his shoes and that he also had accounts with a barber and a tailor. Darwin didn't spend much on books, said van Wyhe, further confirmation that Darwin preferred collecting beetles to coursework.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scrap FDI in pubishing, say Indian publishers

Some Indian book publishers are concerned over the "invasion" by their foreign counterparts and demanded that the government scrap the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the industry.

"We demand the government scrap the FDI in the business of publishing to give a breathing space to Indian publishers,"Anand Bhushan, advisor and former chairman of the New Delhi-based Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP), told IANS in Chandigarh.

The government allowed 100 per cent FDI in book publishing in 2000. The domestic industry has been seeking a reversal of the policy ever since. "Foreign publishers have big capital and full support from their governments. They have badly invaded the Indian market and Indian publishers cannot compete with them,"he said.

Bhushan, also joint managing director of Pitambar Publishers in New Delhi, said the domestic market was increasing every year but foreign players were eating into their profits in a big way.
Foreign publishers have invested around Rs 20 crore in India in the last 10 years and taken away profits worth over Rs.100 crore, he said. Bhushan was in the city recently to head FIP's 12th national convention that saw the participation of publishers from across the country.

"Every year, over 80,000 new books are published in India. Hindi language books constitute the majority as around 25,000 books are in Hindi while about 20,000 books are in English, and the rest are in other vernacular languages,"he said.

Asked about the threat of e-books, Bhushan said: "E-books have stormed into the market and they will certainly create their monopoly one day. But for the next 10 years, we face no threat from them as this technology will take time to make room for itself."

According to official figures, book exports increased from Rs 80 crores in 1998 to Rs 1200 crores in 2008.

However, publishers are not impressed with the growth in exports. "Despite this huge figure, we stand nowhere in the international market. This figure is just a fraction if we compare it with the number of books exported from countries like the US, Canada, Russia and the UK,"Harish Jain, owner of 28-year-old city-based Unistar Books Publishers, said. He said that the situation was not very rosy since "banks are not giving us loans as they do not consider books as a security".

Even the government does not give enough importance to the publishing industry, he said. "In countries like Russia, there is a separate ministry of book publishing that takes care of publishers' interests,"Jain said.

Ramanjit Sandhu, a leading exporter of books to the US, said Indian books have high demand in the overseas market. "India exports books to 110 different countries and America has emerged as a big market of Indian books, especially based on Sikhism due to the presence of a large Indian diaspora there," Sandhu said.

Fareed Zakaria is India Abroad Person of the Year

Journalist and author Fareed Zakaria has been named the India Abroad Person of the Year for 2008.

Zakaria last year became the first Indian American to host his own show on a major network, when CNN launched the hour-long Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday prime time.

Advaita Kala turns to scriptwrting

A media report suggests the Almost Single author, Advaita Kala will turn to scriptwriting for Bollywood. While she apparently refused to divulge any details, apart from the fact that it is romantic comedy (what mainstream Bollywood isn't), and that it will be ready in April.

The author claimed she did not watch movies and "that's what makes it so interesting. The story, about the Indian Gen Next, is not based in India. It is like the stuff I write."

Almost Single, which is a semi-autobiographical take on the life on a 20-something hotel executive (Kala worked for the hospitality sector earlier), came out in 2007. She has since been promoting book, which was one of the first chicklit to be published in India, besides working on a sequel.

Seamus Heaney wins literature prize

Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney took home one of the most important UK literary awards, the David Cohen Prize in London on March 18.

The David Cohen Prize for Literature, worth £40,000, is awarded every two years for a lifetime’s achievement.

The last winner was also Irish, poet Derek Mahon. Previous winners of the award include fellow Nobel laureates VS Naipaul, Harold Pinter and Doris Lessing as well as Muriel Spark and Beryl Bainbridge.

Heaney said: “Much about the David Cohen Prize makes it highly honorific: first of all there’s the list of the previous winners, a roll call of the best; there’s the fact that you don’t enter for it but are chosen from the wide field of your contemporaries; and then there’s the verification of that reference to ‘lifetime achievement’.”

Recession a boon for great literature

Ali Al Saed in Gulf News Daily makes valid points:

My darkest nightmare, in which publishers decide to only publish trite-overblown-scandal-laden celebrity books, is predicted to become a reality over the next few years, thanks to the recession.
As major publishing houses suffer a big knock to their credit, many are now expecting a doom-and-gloom end to literature as we know it.

The publishing industry has been suffering over the past few years anyway, and patterns of it falling apart were loud and clear.

The major publishing houses lost the plot and in the race to sign up the "potential" next big things in literature, they began making unrealistic targets. And the lucky few authors during that period managed to emerge with six-figure advances for books that never managed to recuperate quarter of that!

Full story here

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dark knight

Akshay Kumar has turned to literature to better appreciate his character for his next film, 8X10 Tasveer.

Kumar is said to be reading dark writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassant to get into the skin of his role for the film. He plays a man from India who becomes a forest ranger in Canada. The actor will be seen doing time travel with the help of an 8X10 photograph to solve some murder mysteries. The film is directed by Nagesh Kukunoor.

Since he wanted to understand the world of mystery and science fiction, he chose to make himself aware of supernatural and mystery thrillers which could help him pull off the role better.

FTII hosts seminar on literature and cinema

The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), in association with the Film Writers Association (FWA), Mumbai, will organise a seminar ‘Cinema and literature: The question of adaptation’ on adaptation of literature in Hindi cinema on March 21, Saturday.

The seminar will deliberate on various facets of cinema and literature in sessions titled ‘turning novels into films,’ ‘folklore for folk cinema,’ ‘making long films of short stories,’ ‘mythology and Indian films’ and ‘drama in our films.’

Prominent film-personalities including Gulzar, Javed Akthar, Kamal Hassan, Govind Nihlani, Dr Jabbar Patel, Kamlesh Pandey, Vishnu Khare, Shama Zaidi, Vishal Bharadwaj and Anurag Kashyap will participate in the deliberations.

Report on the seminar in The Indian Express

Sony strikes book deal with Google

The e-books future is getting brighter by the day. Sony and Google have signed a deal to provide more than 500,000 book titles for the Sony Reader Digital Book.

The content will be offered through Sony's eBook Store, and will consist of public domain titles from Google's book archiving project. Users can access the collection through their PCs or through Sony's PRS-505 and PRS-700 Reader devices. The move will see the eBook Store's collection of books rocket to more than 600,000 titles available for download.

"We have focused our efforts on offering an open platform and making it easy to find as much content as possible, from our store or others, whether that content is purchased, borrowed or free," said Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business division.

"Working with Google, we can offer book lovers another avenue for free books while still providing a seamless experience from our store."

The move could also help Sony in its competition with Amazon's Kindle e-book reader.

Obama inks new book deal, earns big from writing

US President Barack Obama has signed a new book deal worth $500,000.

News about Obama's new book plan was revealed in a disclosure form filed on Tuesday which showed that the 47- year-old President had signed a new $500,000 book agreement five days before taking office on January 20. Aides said Obama would receive $250,000 of that for an adaptation of his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, for young readers. The other $250,000 will go to the publisher in the deal, the New York Times reported.

Obama had earned a whopping $2.46 million in royalties last year as an author.

Obama has written two best-selling books, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, published in 1995, and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, published in 2006.

Ra-ra book on Modi soon

There's going to be book on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi soon!
The book is by MV Kamath and Kalindi Randeri and published by Rupa.

This is what the advance information sheet sent by the publisher says:
When an astrologer predicted that narendra could either be a ‘sanyasi’ or an ‘emperor’, nobody knew the extent to which it would turn out to be true. Narendra modi is one of the most misunderstood chief ministers that India has seen ever since independence. This book is an attempt to unravel the ‘other side’ of him. He has gained back the confidence that some people had lost in him, following the brutal incineration of fifty-eight innocent victims in the Sabarmati Express train near Godhra, by making sincere and innovative efforts to become one with the people and by toiling for the upliftment of the state. Not only is Gujarat’s progress Modi’s onward motion, but vice versa too. Gujarat’s progress under the leadership of Modi:
• Within half-a-decade, the state has become India’s number one industrial state.
• The Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summits have given Gujarat many a good deals and has brought together many investors from all across the globe.
• The kite makers are ecstatic because of Uttarayan, the famous annual kite festival which is a source of income as well as a tourist attraction.
• Ratan Tata’s dream project, the Nano, will now roll out of Gujarat.
• By channelising government revenue and making the administration transparent, Narendra Modi has become the man of, by and for the masses.

Well, look forward to some serious PR work. And hope the bit about never becoming emperor comes true at least!

Incidentally, an interesting post on Modi:

Samarasan, Shamsie longlisted for Orange Prize

Three Asian novelists works have been nominated to longlist of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009.

These are:
Preeta Samarasan for Evening is the Whole Day
Kamila Shamsie for Burnt Shadows
V V Ganeshananthan for Love Marriage

The longlist has 20 titles. The Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist shortlist will be announced on 21 April 2009 and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 3 June.

The Orange Prize for Fiction, is the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by a woman. The panel of judges for 2009 awards was announced on 17 March 2009. The Orange Prize for Fiction 2009 judges will be chaired by broadcaster Fi Glover, who will be joined by writer, novelist and broadcaster Bidisha, journalist and academic Sarah Churchwell, journalist and novelist Kira Cochrane and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox.

The other writers in the long list are Toni Morrison (A Mercy) Debra Adelaide (The Household Guide to Dying), Gaynor Arnold (Girl in a Blue Dress), Lissa Evans (Their Finest Hour and a Half), Bernardine Evaristo (Blonde Roots), Ellen Feldman (Scottsboro), Laura Fish (Strange Music), Allegra Goodman (Intuition), Samantha Harvey (The Wilderness), Samantha Hunt (The Invention of Everything Else), Michelle de Kretser (The Lost Dog), Deirdre Madden (Molly Fox's Birthday), Gina Ochsner (The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight), Marilynne Robinson (Home), Curtis Sittenfeld (American Wife), Miriam Toews (The Flying Troutmans) and Ann Weisgarber (The Personal History of Rachel DuPree).

Narayana Murthy's book out in April

N R Narayana Murthy's new books, A Better India: A Better World will come out in April.

According to the blurb: A Better India: A Better World brings together Narayana Murthy’s views on issues that audiences around the world would like to hear him speak on—from effective models of corporate and public governance to corporate social responsibility, from globalization and competing in a flat world to entrepreneurship and leadership challenges, from issues crucial to national development to good values and betterment of the education system. In A Better India: A Better World Narayana Murthy also unveils an ambitious blueprint for a vibrant, developed, egalitarian future that today’s youth must build tomorrow.

There could be no better time than now to adopt Narayana Murthy’s bold, honest and positive approach to resolving the conflicts, dilemmas and downsides that face us today.

With one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world and an array of recent achievements in technology, industry and entrepreneurship, India strides confidently towards the future. But, in the world’s largest democracy, not everyone is equally fortunate. More than 300 million Indians are still prey to hunger, illiteracy and disease, and 51 per cent of India’s children are still undernourished.

What will it take for India to bridge this great divide? When will the fruits of development reach the poorest of the poor, and wipe the tears from the eyes of every man, woman and child, as Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt? And how should this, our greatest challenge ever, be negotiated?

In A Better India: A Better World, N R Narayana Murthy shows us that a society working for the greatest welfare of the greatest number—samasta jananam sukhino bhavantu—must focus on two simple things: values and good leadership. Drawing on the remarkable Infosys story and the lessons learnt from the two decades of post-reform India, Narayana Murthy lays down the ground rules that must be followed if future generations are to inherit a truly progressive nation.
Built on Narayana Murthy’s lectures delivered around the world, A Better India: A Better World is a manifesto for the youth, the architects of the future, and a compelling argument for why a better India holds the key to a better world.

N R Narayana Murthy is the Founder-Chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited, a global software consulting company headquartered in Bangalore, India. He serves on the boards of Unilever, HSBC, NDTV, Ford Foundation and the UN Foundation. He also serves on the boards of Cornell University, Wharton School, Singapore Management University, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore and INSEAD.

The Economist ranked Narayana Murthy among the ten most-admired global business leaders in 2005. He topped the Economic Times list of India’s most powerful CEOs for three consecutive years: 2004 to 2006. He has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India, the Légion d’honneur by the Government of France, and the CBE by the British government. He is the first Indian winner of Ernst and Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Max Schmidheiny Liberty prize, and has appeared in the rankings of businessmen and innovators published by India Today, Business Standard, Time, CNN, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes and Financial Times.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Priyanka as comic strip heroine

Priyanka Chopra is to feature in an international comic book. She becomes the first Bollywood star and the second in India after Sachin Tendulkar to be featured in an international comic series.

British businessman Richard Branson, who recently showered accolades on the actress, is keen on turning her into a comic strip heroine for his publishing house. The character will look like her and will also be named after her.

Tharoor to contest elections

Shashi Tharoor, erstwhile UN bureaucrat, author, businessman, and referrred to by diplomatic insiders as a "smoothie slime ball" is to be Congress candidate for Thiruvananthapuram.

In a typical statement, he said, "I am not looking beyond a victory in the constituency of Thiruvananthapuram. It is for the people of Thiruvananthapuram that I am here." The 53-year-old career diplomat says he "accepted" that the the local people may feel that their hardwork is being bypassed in favour of somebody from the outside".

He was questioned that he knew Manhattan better than Thiruvananthapuram, but he denied the tag of an outsider.

He had indicated before elections that he would want to contest the elections, preferably as a Congress candidate.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hillary is comic book star

Women are definitely the comic book flavour of the season, says a CNN report.

No capes, no tights: Female Force stars Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Caroline Kennedy. Washington-based publisher Bluewater Productions released a series of comic books featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on March 11. The company says it has already sold 7,500 copies of each to distributors. "We really want to show strong, independent, female role models in comics," said Darren Davis, president of Bluewater Productions.

The first two issues in Female Force, already released, feature Clinton and Palin. The next two will feature Caroline Kennedy and First Lady Michelle Obama.The Michelle Obama comic is expected to be released in April, and has pre-sold 28,000 copies.

Another company released comics about President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain during the presidential election. Then they decided that Hillary Clinton's story needed to be told. "She was the first [major] female presidential candidate, so we just started with [her], and there was so much interest in it," said Jason Schultz, executive vice president of Bluewater Productions.

British Library waylays 9,000 books

More than 9,000 books are missing from the British Library, says a Guardian report on March 17. The library does not classify them as lost, but mislaid!

This includes Renaissance treatises on theology and alchemy, a medieval text on astronomy, first editions of 19th- and 20th-century novels, and a luxury edition of Mein Kampf produced in 1939 to celebrate Hitler's 50th birthday.

The library believes almost all have not been stolen but rather mislaid among its 650km of shelves and 150m items – although some have not been seen in well over half a century.

Although the library has not listed any value for thousands of the books, a quick Guardian tot-up of the market price of nine collectible volumes came to well over £3,000 – including £1,300 for a first edition of Oscar Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in 1891, missing from the library's shelves since 1961.

Amazon sued over Kindle ebooks

Cable TV giant and multimedia firm Discovery Communications has sued Amazon.com over its Kindle ebook devices, claiming patent infringement.

Discovery filed suit on March 17 in the US District Court for the District of Delaware. It alleges infringement of a patent filed by the company in September of 1999. Describing an "Electronic Book Security and Copyright Protection System," the patent was awarded in 2007, with Discovery founder John S Hendricks listed among the inventors. "Hendricks' work included inventions of a secure, encrypted system for the selection, transmission, and sale of electronic books." It should be "entitled to fair compensation," the company said in a statement.

"The Kindle and Kindle 2 are important and popular content delivery systems," reads a canned statement from Discovery general counsel Joseph A. LaSala Jr. "We believe they infringe our intellectual property rights, and that we are entitled to fair compensation. Amazon released the second version of the Kindle last month. Its previous model was released in November 2007.
Kindle 2 has two gigabytes of memory, allowing it to hold more than 1,500 books, compared with 200 for the original Kindle.

Discovery and the law firm representing the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Amazon declined to comment.

Discovery - which has 1.5 million subscribers to its Discovery Network and Animal Planet, among other channels - is not aiming to stop Amazon from selling the Kindle, but to collect damages and royalties.

Indian origin writer wins award

Anita Ganeri, an Indian-origin writer of children’s books has been selected for the Blue Peter Book Awards for her book, Planet in Peril.

Her book has been named Best Book with Facts in the Blue Peter Book Awards. The book is part of the best-selling Horrible Geography series and informs youngsters of how to save the planet in times of global warming. It was announced as an award winner at the Blue Peter studios last week.

Kolkata-born Ganeri, 47, said, "It was wonderful to get the award. I never dreamed that I would. I am particularly proud because at the moment this is the only award for children's non-fiction books. Hopefully it will raise the profile of such type of books because it is a field in which British authors are world leaders."

She said, "I have been a fan of the show since I was six and even named my dog after the Blue Peter dog, so winning an award from the show was very special." Anita's book is a guide to the environmental issues that children are most concerned about.

The Blue Peter Book Awards are a series of literary prizes for children's literature awarded annually by the BBC television programme Blue Peter instituted in 2000.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vassanji doesn't talk. At least not easily!

MG Vassanji writes fasinating books, but it is certainly not easy to get him to talk, as Sam Miller, who was in conversation with him at the launch of his new book, A Place Within, in Delhi, discovered. "I am a great listener," said the author at one point!

The book, a non-fiction work on the author's visits and reactions to the country of his ancestors, predictably has a potpourri of subjective reactions from the author. He started visiting India in 1993, and since then has been back about 10 times! Interestingly he remarked that he thought he could do an India book after a visit, a la Naipaul, but found out that he couldn't.

The book points out how identities are being 'purified in today's world. he pointed out to the plurality of religious practices followed by the Khojas in the past, but which are getting lost today.
This is an intimate chronicle filled with fantastic stories and unforgettable characters. Vassanji has travelled widely, though Gujarat forms a big part of his writing. Predictably, as his forefathers are from Gujarat and the violence that has rocked the state formed the subject of his last, greatly acclaimed novel, The Assassin's Song. Vassanji belongs to the Khoja community, and connecting to them in different places, he said, was the great during his visits.
The book is rich with images of bustling city streets and contrasting Indian landscapes, from the southern tip of India to the Himalayan foothills, from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea.
He also spoke of his fondness for Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital that he had spent his childhood in. , but which is also losing its Indian communities today.

HCL sings $350 million deal with Reader's Digest

Reader's Digest has announced a $350-million deal to a leading global IT solutions major, HCL Technologies, to handle development of software applications, infrastructure support, network security, data storage, disaster recovery and support for data centres, a company statement said.

HCL will support such services across 45 countries through its global delivery locations in Poland, the US and India, supported by a worldwide onsite support network.

In keeping with RD's global reach, these solutions will be enabled through an integrated helpdesk in 14 languages - Portuguese, French, Russian, Czech, Spanish, Polish, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Romanian, Slovak and Turkish.

Headquartered at Pleasantville, New York, Reader's Digest Association publishes 92 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader's Digest - touted as the world's largest-circulation magazine.

It also operates 65 branded websites to generate 18 million unique visitors per month and sells some 68 million books, music and video products across the world each year.

Don't be a bystander

Salim Must Die
Mukul Deva
Harper Collins
Rs 225, Pp x + 417

Rating (on 10):
Plot: 5
Idea: 6
Style: 5
USP: Updated on geopolitics. Placing India on the thriller map.

A military thriller from a an ex-army man. And a follow up to Lashkar, one of India's first Ludlumesque thrillers, which was written in response to the 2005 bombings in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar market.

Well, Salim Must Die takes the tale forward. Some of the character remain - Salim of course, besides Colonel Anbu and Iqbal, though in a peripheral role. This one far more ambitious, and the reach is global. Salim and his henchman Cheema have a lethal plan to exceed '9/11' and they plan to do so by using biological weapons on kaffirs - at ten leading destinations including Delhi.

The story takes a while to start, as nearly a third of the book is expanded on politically correct sounding bytes on how terror is a global phenomenon not limited to any religion, how terrorists have no religion, how people are divided into -"idiots, wimps, bystanders and terrorists" - figure out where you are , dear reader! Unfortunately, as the novel progresses, Muslim minorities across the world become the actualised breeding grounds for those who can carry out the deeds of terror. And they are drawn from the Uighur minority in China to Muslim immigrants in the US, Canada, UK, Jamaica, India, Denmark, Germany etc.

The build also takes time as it introduces characters on the Indian intelligence side - most of whom are caricatures and unremarkable despite attempts to add colour to their histories. Salim remains the pivotal figure in this cops and robbers tale.

Interestingly Bush comes out very badly. And Osama dies. It is instead the shadowy Salim who is wreaking havoc with the help of his henchman Cheema. With the help of a Chinese scientitst.

As a thriller, it works. Editing, plot could all be better. But as pioneering steps from the expanding Indian literary firmament, these are good steps. the publisher and the author need to be congratulated.

Good news: people are still reading in Europe

Some good news for the beleaguered publishing sector. According to reports, the motives are different, but people are buying books, especially in continental Europe, says an NYT article.

André Breedt, research and development analyst at Nielsen BookScan, which tracks book sales says, “People have been reading and they will keep reading, no matter what happens.”

That resilience has been particularly evident in Continental Europe. After a dip in the fall, the number of books sold in France rose 2 per cent in December from a year earlier and 2.4 per cent in January, according to Livres Hebdo, a trade publication.

Publishers and analysts offer a variety of reasons for the relative strength of the book market. Compared with a new television or video game console, books are inexpensive. With unemployment on the rise and working hours in decline, people may simply have more time on their hands. After the excesses of recent years, reading is an activity well suited to a more contemplative era.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Putumayo World Music has ventured into publishing with a lavish photo book called India: A Cultural Journey, with identical cover art.

For the last 16 years, the New York record label has been compiling album collections with an ear for voice, melody, instrumentation and the kind of quality sound production that helps deliver its guarantee "to make you feel good." AR Rahman, in news for Slumdog Millioniare, appears on the company's latest release, India, sharing vocals with female Bollywood star Chinmayee on the love ballad Tere Bina, from Rahman's soundtrack to the 2007 film Guru.

The book features more than 300 photos from all over India by Laurence Mouton and Sergio Ramazzotti, grouped by such subjects as "The Taste of Tea" and "Indian Pink and Saffron Yellow." Travel writer Catherine Bourzat provides the text.

Three win Navlekhan awards

Bhartiya Jnanpith's 2008 Navlekhan awards were presented on March 14. The awards, given to first-time young litterateurs, were presented by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit.

The winners were poets Ravikant and Umashanker Chaudhary and novelist Vimal Chandra Pandey.

At the awards, poet Ashok Bajpai spoke about the rising popularity of Hindi literature in the past few years, significant in the face of the state of vernacular literature. Jnanpith director Ravinder Kalia spoke of the response to the books published by Jnanpith last year by first time poets and novelists.

The Navlekhan awards were earlier called Yuva awards. While Ravikant's Yatra and Chaudhary's Kehte Hai Tab Shahenshah So Rahe The got a cash prize of Rs 21,000 each, Pandey's novel Darr got him Rs 25,000.

10 other first-time authors were published by Jnanpith this year. Thwey too were felicitated at the ceremony.

Tezpur Book Fair begins

A ten-day book fair in Tezpur in Assam began on March 13. The fair is organised by Tezpur Sahitya Sabha in collaboration with the district administration and is being held at the city's Nehru Maidan.

The fair was inaugurated by new president of the apex literary body of Assam, Rong Bong Terang.

About 60 publishers are participating from both within and outside the state. besides about 150 stall, there are also events for art, speeches, story telling, spot letter writing, vocabulary plus a seminar on children's literature.

Green meet for publishers

The printing and publishing industry in India has traditionally been looked upon as a noble sector because of its obvious contribution to literacy, education, and awareness. However, as ecological concerns rise in the form of water depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, chemical discharge into water bodies, energy inefficiency, and environmental hazards, the conventional idea of profit maximization by private firms is being replaced by the ideology of corporate social responsibility.

Recognizing this and the role that the publishing industry can play in going green to save the environment, TERI Press, the publishing arm of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) organized an event Pathways to Green Publishing: a stakeholders’ dialogue on ecological and sustainable publishing practices. With inaugural addresses by Dr RK Pachauri, Director General, TERI, Dr Vijay L Kelkar, Chairman, 13th Finance Commission, and Akshay Pathak, Director, German Book Office, the event brought together stakeholders involved in the process of publishing, including paper manufacturers and printers, on a common platform to discuss the environmental issues plaguing the publishing industry as a whole.

Giving his inaugural address Pachauri, said, “One of the most important frontiers in tackling the global threat of environmental degradation lies in greening the entire chain of printing and publication activity. If one were to assess the power of this extended sector, it would become apparent that the message of green practices applied in this field would reach every member of human society. India should be a leader in the field of sustainable development and consequently pathways to green publishing are important avenues for India to tread in a leadership position.”
Dr Pachauri further added that “It is critically important to set a motion of activities so that a radical change in the publishing industry can be seen. It is important to influence the thinking minds and it is heartening to see the enormous response TERI is getting from the stakeholders. It is crucial now to use the best methods & technologies to make publishing green in every aspect. He further stressed on the importance of involving the youth in this kind of initiative. “It is for you to be empowered & empower others. It’s high time that we not only need to correct the damages but to also reverse the damages too,” he added.

Kelkar said “Sustainable growth is crucial for the development and growth of any industry and the publishing industry is no different. We all are aware that the whole process of publishing a book really turns out to be, not only very wasteful in nature, but also harmful for the environment. And it is imperative that we protect our environment as time is running out.
Dr Kelkar while talking of the roles of all active stakeholders touched upon the role played by authors and intellectuals in encouraging a movement towards sustainable publishing. “There is more than mere lip service that authors can pay to the environmental concerns plaguing the industry in particular and the economy in general. Authors can play a significant role in first, becoming aware of the current scenario that is detrimental to sustainable growth in future and second, influencing the publishers they work with to follow environmental rules, make adjustments that lead to a greener and cleaner tomorrow and understand that being environmentally conscious is not an expensive decision to make.” He further added that “Most importantly, this conference fills the glaring information gap in the industry, which is also relevant for all other stakeholders in the supply chain beginning with authors and ending with the kabadiwalla.”

The highlight of the conference, however, was the high level Business Leaders Forum, which saw CEOs from the leading publishing conglomerates such as Pearson, Cengage, and Elsevier, as well as top printers like Thomson Digital and Gopsons in a discussion that looked at the ecological issues facing the industry as a whole and their quest for sustainable solutions.

Apart from important sessions on Business Leader forums, Sustainable best practices etc, this years conference had two special sessions titled ‘Educational institutions as drivers of a greener tomorrow’ and ‘Author Speak’. Teachers and students from leading schools of Delhi NCR, like The Shri Ram School, DPS Noida, and Kulachi Hansraj School participated in the conference to discuss the environmental initiatives that can be taken by schools and other educational institutions. This is in keeping with the vision of Dr R K Pachauri to inculcate the spirit of environmental awareness in young minds.

The event also focused on ‘green business’, the economics of sustainability, and the role of the media in bringing about a change. Therefore, students and faculty members from reputed management and media institutes such as NRAI School of Mass Communication, Management and Technology, Pioneer Media School, Jaypee Institute of Information Technology and, colleges such as Miranda House and Ramjas College participated in large numbers, where issues on how youth can be torch-bearers of change were dealt.

The special ‘Author Speak’ session saw renowned authors talking on best practices that the publishing industry can look into and also talked about the latest technologies available. Famous author, Paro Anand addressed the session and shared her thoughts on how authors can lead the ‘green revolution’ in publishing.

The conference is a culmination of a year-long series of workshops under the Green Publishers’ Guild in collaboration with the German Book Office, New Delhi. The first and second workshops addressed issues related to the publishing industry, such as the feasibility of using recycled paper and management of hazardous wastes in the printing industry. The second and third workshops addressed a wider audience with an emphasis on greening office buildings and educational infrastructure.

Prominent speakers included Vivek Govil, President and CEO, Sanjay Banerjee, Managing Director, Elsevier, India, R Srinivasan, Member, Corporate Management Committee, ITC Ltd, Lata Vaidyanathan, Principal, Modern School, Sanat Hazra, Technical Head, Times of India, and Urvashi Butalia, Director, Zubaan Books. Prof Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA addressed the gathering through a video message. Representatives of renowned publishing houses such as Cambridge University Press, Pearson Education India, Pratham Books, Katha Books, Zubaan Books, Ratna Sagar Pvt Ltd, Narsinghdass and Co Pvt Ltd participated in the conference.

While giving the vote of thanks, Madhu Singh Sirohi, Head to TERI Publications said, “TERI press the publishing arm of TERI is perhaps the first publishing house in India to conceptualize a dialogue on the environmental impact of the process of publishing. I am hopeful that all those present here will benefit greatly from the deliberations and will also be inspired to lead from the front so that a pattern of sustainability is established throughout the supply chain.”

Sirohi also introduced the ‘Green Publishers’ Guild, which is a membership-based body of stakeholders from the paper, printing, and publishing industries as well as corporate houses, government institutions, media, and educational and knowledge-based institutions. The Guild is an active body that carries out workshops throughout the year, which finally culminates in the main event that is, Pathways to Green Publishing. The Guild also brings out a quarterly newsletter and is a platform for access to research conducted by TERI in the field of paper manufacturing, printing, and publishing.

DC Books fair begins

The eight day DC Books fair began in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala on March 15.

Novel, poetry books as well as social science, science, management, self help, history, economics, culture and literary criticism are showcased at the fair, which is on till Mach 22.

Penguin, Orient Blackswan, Viva, Jaico, Macmillan, Routledge, Sage, Harper Collins, DC Books, Kerala Bhasha Institute, Olive, Current Books, Devi Books, Mathrubhoomi, Malayala Manorama and Rainbow Publishers are participating.

Superman on a high

A rare copy of the first Superman comic book sold for $ 317,200 at auction, according to AFP reports.

This is a super hero sized increase on the original 10 cents paid back in 1938.

Bids in the online auction, which started two weeks ago on http://www.comicconnect.com/, immediately topped $200,000 and a last-minute surge crossed the $300,000 mark. There were 89 bids and Comic Connect extended the deadline by several minutes to catch the late interest.

The book is a rare and unrestored copy of the first issue of Action Comics, with a cover showing Superman in his familiar red cape, hurling a green car past terrified onlookers.

Neither the seller nor the buyer were identified.

Anti-India forces involved in mutiny, say Bangla authors

PTI is reporting that leading authors from Bangladesh are saying they do not have any doubt about involvement of anti-India forces and elements opposed to the liberation movement in the mayhem

Renowned authors, attending the SAARC festival of literature in Agra, were unanimous in pointing finger at " a country opposed to Bangladesh's liberation in fanning violence" as part of a "big conspiracy" to destabilise the Sheikh Hasina-led government. "I think elements opposed to India and opposed to creation of Bangladesh were behind the conspiracy," Khondakar Ashraf Hossain, a popular literary figure in Bangladesh, said without naming Pakistan.

Known as one of the finest voices on the literary horizon of the country, Ashraf alleged that "Pakistani ISI is working in Bangladesh" and there were reports that "crores of rupees have been given to common jawans to rise in rebellion."

"The big plan was to plunge the country into total chaos," he further alleged. Asked about the Bangla author's view, Pakistani writer Zahid Nawaz said the allegations were not acceptable. "We do not accept what has been said. We should live in peace and work for a peaceful environment around us," he said.

Over 70 army officers were killed in the revolt at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles last month.

Another renowned author Selina Hossain alleged that"some elements in former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party could have been involved in the horrible mutiny."

"It (mutiny) was a conspiracy against the democratically elected government," Salina, author of many popular books,said. Asked whether she believed ISI was also involved in the conspiracy, she said "I think so". Pointing fingers towards hardline Jamaat-e-Islami, anally of BNP, Selina said those who did not want the current government to carry out the trial of 1971 war criminals could have also played a role in the conspiracy. She said prosecution of war criminals will create problem for BNP and Jamaat as it will hurt them politically. "Even Pakistan does not want trial of the war criminals."

Pakistani government had sent a diplomat to Dhaka in February to request the Awami League government not to go ahead with the trial of the war criminals. Ashraf said the plan of the conspirators was to "create a1975-like situation in the country when most members of the Bangladesh's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's family were killed."

"They thought after the killing of the army officers, the army will move with tanks and machine guns and gun down mutineers. That would have created a chain reaction. The plan was to create a civil war kind of situation."

Agrees Muhmmad Samad, another writer from the country, who believed the conspiracy was "to destabilise the country as well as to stall the trial of those found guilty of war crimes." Critical of Khaleda Zia's "narrow politics", Samad, whois a professor at the Institute of Social Welfare and Researchin Dhaka University, claimed the BNP does not want strong and friendly ties with India. Ashraf, who is also Professor of English at the University of Dhaka, also praised India for extending support to Hasina so that she could tackle the situation.

"External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee did a very good job. He sent out a message saying that India was behind Bangladesh," he said adding, Indian government alerted BSF so that the mutineers cannot escape to India. Supporting Awami government's policy towards India,Selina said India sacrificed a lot to ensure freedom for Bangladesh. "It was Indira Gandhi who went to various countries to get support for freedom of Bangladesh."

The authors are attending the the literary festival organised by Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL), where authors, academicians and peace activists from all the SAARC countries are participating.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chat about novels on this site

Is this another turning point for literary industry? Could be, as the three founders of CompletelyNovel.com, an internet-based social network of readers and writers, aims to dispense with publishers and book stores in much the same way as Amazon dispensed with the need for people to go out and shop.
For more, click below:

Saarc lit meet calls for peace

Authors, activists and academicians from the SAARC region, including India and Pakistan, pledged to work to build more peace in the area.

Participants of the four-day SAARC Festival of Literature in Agra called for sincere efforts to have greater understanding across borders to take the region out of the "difficult phase".

Pakistani author Awais Sheikh too agreed that terrorism was the bigest threat to the region and it was time to work together to combat the menace.

Naipaul biographer wins US book critics award

Patrick French's account of the life of British writer VS Naipaul, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of VS Naipaul. won the top biography award at the National Book Critics Circle, announed on March 12.

Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano won the top fiction prize for his last novel, 2666. Bolano, who in 2003, won on March 12 for the 2008 English-language translation of his 900-page work set in Mexico. It was first published in 2004.

Six winners were picked from books published in the US in the past year. A 24-member board of the group determines the best books in each category. Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle includes nearly 700 reviewers.

My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, by Ariel Sabar, was the top autobiography.

August Kleinzahler's Sleeping it off in Rapid City and Juan Felipe Herrera's Half of the World in Light shared the poetry prize.

Seth Lerer's Children Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter, won in the criticism category.

Amazon threatens legal action on Kindle copyright

Amazon asked an online forum to remove links to software that lets people load ebooks they buy from sources other than Amazon onto their Kindles, reports PC World.

While the MobileRead forum erased references to the software, it doesn't believe the programme violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as Amazon charges.

Amazon introduced the second version of the Kindle in February. The devices are wirelessly tied to the Amazon store, where users can buy books, newspapers, magazines and other content.

Users are restricted from loading ebooks that they buy from other sources onto the Kindle.
MobileRead had offered instructions about how to use a small script called kindlepid.py that the site didn't host but directed readers to. The script lets users of Kindles discover their device's personal ID. Many ebook sellers require the PID, but Amazon does not disclose the PID to Kindle owners, according to the instructions that were posted on MobileRead.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gary Young wins Shelley Memorial award

US prose poet Gary Young has won the Poetry Society of America (PSA) award.

Established in 1929, the $3,500 award is given annually to a living American poet "selected with reference to genius and need". Previous winners include ee cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Gary Snyder and Robert Creeley.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chacha Chowdhary, Pinki, Sabu to reinvent themselves

License India, which claims to be India’s first complete licensing solution provider, is all set to provide a licensing platform to the Diamond comic characters – Chacha Chowdhary, Pinki, Sabu, Billoo, etc through character licensing and animation. Diamond Comics, a pioneer in Indian Comic industry will soon enter into a related tie-up with License India, a division of Franchise India Holdings Limited. The plans will be unveiled at the Brand Licensing & Merchandising show 2009 in Mumbai.

As per the agreement, the characters of Diamond Comics will now be seen in cartoons, animated films, mobile games and would also have licensed merchandise in children’s properties – clothes, toys, stationary, etc.

According to Gaurav Marya, President- License India, “Animation & Character licensing industry in India has bright prospects due its large population that accounts for a major chunk of the world's population. Also, the vast majority of India’s $75-$100 million in retail sales comes from licensed merchandise in children’s properties. “

The global animation market (demand perspective) was estimated at US $59 billion in 2006 and is expected to reach US $80 billion by 2010. In India, the animation industry value is pegged at Rs.1, 595 crore in the FY 07, registering a growth of 24% over the previous fiscal year, with the entertainment segment contributing nearly 68% of the total market in India. Exports, mostly to US and Europe, accounted for more than 70% of the revenues in 2006.

Gulshan Rai, Chairman & MD, Diamond Comics said, “India is a very big country and is manufacturing large number of children oriented products. In the present scenario, our characters can be used in stationary products, Bubble-gums, Candies, Ice-Creams, Shoe Industry, Cycle Industry etc. and also on school children oriented products like school bags, their T-Shirts, Tattoos, Transfer Stickers and so on. We have heard much about Disney cartoons, Disney clothes & Disney stationary; now is the chance for the Indian comic characters to have their visibility worldwide through License India”.

“There has also been a steep increase in the number of ways to consume animation content than ever before. Increasing number of TV channels, greater accessibility to Internet, proliferation of mobile devices and increasing popularity of mobile, video & computer games, offering humongous potential for the Animation & Character Licensing in India”, adds Rai.

According to Anupama Bindra, Business Head, License India, “The Indian animation industry is growing rapidly with about 300 animation companies employing 12,000 people and 3,000 freelancers in India. The potential of Indian character licensing, especially, Diamond Comics characters, is great as people can easily recall these characters. We see tremendous potential in Indian character licensing industry and have aggressive plans to harness the same”.

A slew of players have entered the Indian markets for licensing merchandise and character franchise. Disney Consumer Products occupies the foremost position, with the characters of Mickey and Minnie alone generating 43% of its revenue. Over the last three years, merchandise-licensing business in India has been growing at more than 50 per cent, and total character licensing sales in India are estimated at Rs 500 crore.

English director to make film novel on India

English director Joe Wright will adapt Alex von Tunzelmann's book Indian Summer.

Published in 2007, the book chronicles the last days of Britain's colonial rule in India and the symbolic end of their status as a world superpower. William Nicholson, is adapting the book for Wright to direct early next year in India. Working Title will produce and Universal will distribute the film.

"After making The Soloist in Los Angeles, I was looking for something that was primarily about the British experience," Wright told Variety.

Madras University hosts Urdu seminar

Madras University inaugurated its first international Urdu seminar on the ‘Concept of Human Dignity in Urdu Literature'.

Urdu scholars from various parts of India and the UK are participating in the two-day seminar, organised by the university's department of Arabic, Persian and Urdu.

Pilot who made save gets huge book deal

Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed a troubled USAirways jet in the Hudson River, without any deaths has signed a $3 million deal with a HarperCollins imprint, William Morrow.

Sullenberger saved more than 150 people's when he landed the stricken plane in the Hudson river.

Global winners of Commonwealth book awards announced

The regional winners of the Commonwealth Writers' Prizes for Best Book and Best First Book were announced on March 12. Jhumpa Lahiri has been nominated for Unaccustomed Earth in the best book category. The prize is worth £1,000.

Two Canadian authors, Marina Endicott and Joan Thomas, have won awards with the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Winners by region:
Best Book: Mandla Langa of South Africa for The Lost Colours of the Chameleon
Best First Book: Uwem Akpan of Nigeria for Say You're One of Them
Langa prevailed over authors such as Damon Galgut (The Imposter) and Zoë Wicomb (The One That Got Away) while Akpan won over authors such as Jane Bennett (Porcupine) and Jassy Mackenzie (Random Violence).

Best Book: Jhumpa Lahiri of the UK for Unaccustomed Earth
Best First Book: Mohammed Hanif of Pakistan for A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Hanif was up against writers such as Joe Dunthorne (Submarine) and Sulaiman Addonia (The Consequences of Love) for the prize, while Lahiri beat out writers such as Chris Cleave (The Other Hand) and Salman Rushdie (The Enchantress of Florence).

Best Book: Christos Tsiolkas of Australia for The Slap
Best First Book: Mo Zhi Hong of New Zealand for The Year of the Shanghai Shark
Tsiolkas beat out authors such as Aravind Adiga (Between the Assassinations) and Tim Winton (Breath) while Mo Zhi Hong triumphed over Adiga (The White Tiger) and Nam Le (The Boat).
The winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony in New Zealand on May 16, 2009.

Best Book: Marina Endicott of Canada for Good to a Fault
Best First Book: Joan Thomas of Canada for Reading By Lightning.

Endicott won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award, for Canada and the Caribbean, for her novel Good to a Fault. The novel recounts the chaotic journey a lonely woman and her family take after a car accident. "With delicate precision, Good to a Fault tackles some of the big, eternal questions — love, mortality, God — in a deceptively modest story populated with very ordinary people brought together in extraordinary circumstances," said Michael Bucknor, chair of the judging panel for the Canada and Caribbean region, in a statement.

The winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony in New Zealand on May 16, 2009.

Leipzig book fair starts

The Leipzig Book Fair, on from March 12-15 is the second largest book fair in Germany after the Frankfurt Book Fair.

China, which, will be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt book fair in October this year, is promoting its literature and publishing sector at the fair.

The fair, which is held annually over four days at the Leipzig Trade Fairground Leipzig, Saxony, is the first large trade meeting of the year and plays an important role in the market and is often where new publications are first presented.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For a fresh look

For the publishing troubled, the focus on India seems to be an ongoing story. Frankfurt and Paris had the spotlight on India last year, and London follows is following it up with an ambitious line –up of India centric events at London this year.

The London Book Fair, on at the British capital’s Earls Court from April 20-22 this year, is focusing on India as an emerging market and literary hub. This trade fair will look at not only English writing from the south Asian nation but also other vernacular languages, Alistair Burtenshaw, group exhibition director of the event, says during a recent visit to India to promote the fair.

Burtenshaw admits that the global publishing industry is reeling at the moment. But he is confident of the rebound for the sector as well. “Publishing is a very forward looking industry,” he says. “Even in a challenging economic environment, they are going to look ahead. Out industry relies on great writing, and that is not going to stop.”

The London Book Fair, part of Reed Exhibitions, is one of the largest trade fairs in the world for the sector. While leading publishers, distributors, exporters, agents and writers are present, since 2004, each year, the fair has also selected a ‘market focus’ country. A major area where Burtenshaw hopes LBF will see activity is the sale of copyrights, especially for new authors. While Indian literature has already made deep inroads in the western markets, Burtenshaw feels the fair will help the industry look at India through fresh eyes.

The fair sees about 75-100 seminars over three days and usually draws about 25,000 attendees. Last year, there were about 1,800 exhibitors, from 36 countries and 413 companies. This year, publishers, booksellers and industry representatives from 67 countries will be present at the fair. The growth of the LBF in recent years has also meant the fair has a more international flavour, with about half the exhibitors coming from overseas.

About 45 writers, including major names like Vikram Seth, Amit Chaudhuri, Anita Nair, Javed Akhtar, Amartya Sen and Ramchandra Guha are among the writers scheduled to attend the fair. Already 78 Indian exhibitors have signed up, far exceeding expectations, says Burtenshaw. About 40 cultural events, including seminars and workshops, are planned. “It will help Indian publishers to sell rights of works by Indian authors to other markets,” he says.

The fair aims to focus on different aspects of Indian publishing. With India already the world’s third-largest producer of English language titles, and a still growing economy compared to negative growth rates in most of the OECD economies, the country offers considerable marketing opportunities.

“This will see writing not only from Indians writing in English, but also from the other languages spoken in the country,” says Burtenshaw. The British Council is putting together the programmes, and Sujata Sen, Director, East India, British Council, points out, there are 32 languages in India with over a million speakers, and there is great scope for translation. She points to Sahitya Akademi’s programme, and hopes more translation rights will be discussed.
And the events will not be limited to LBF alone but will also form part of the Edinburgh, hay, Norwich and Newcastle literature festivals. As part of the build up, the Kolkata Book Fair this had its spotlight on Scottish writers, and BCL organized about 50 events during the festival, points out Sen. “It is all about long term sustainability and engagement, adds Burtenshaw. “The rationale is to create greater business opportunities.

With a going rate of £254 per square metre to rent place at the fair, participation does not come chap. But Capexil is giving financial assistance to participants. LBF has also been helping out potential Indian exhibitors through workshops and seminars, conducting workshops for agents on how they can make a book successful, on participation guidelines, how to set up appointments, which titles to promote, how to present stands, preparing the right publicity material etc. While many of the subsidiaries of international publishing houses have been participating in their global stands, many have also taken stands in the India pavilion, Among the participants from India at the fair are Roli, Rupa, Macmillan India, Mapin, Niyogi, OUP India, Penguin India, Sterling, UBSPD, Zubaan, Wisdom Tree, Ratna Sagar, Research Press, Pearson Education, Palgrave Macmillan, McGraw Hill, IBH, Cambridge University Press India besides a host of printers.

Whether the fair is able to achieve its goals remains to be seen, but what already seems guaranteed is the greater visibility of the India in one of world’s global financial capitals desperately in need of some succour.