Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Booker out of the blue

Howard Jacobson's Man Booker Prize for Fiction-winning book, The Finkler Question, opens with the sentence, “He should have seen it coming.”

But did he? Not quite.

“The only inevitability I see about it is that finally I've won it. Often I thought I was never going to win it; never thought that I'll eventually win it this time,” admits Jacobson. Indeed, the Booker for The Finkler Question has surprised many.

That a “seriously funny book,” as it has been described in literary circles, has won the Booker has raised many eyebrows. Speaking from London in a telephone interview, Jacobson is at a loss why. “I don't know why they're surprised. I'm not the first comic novelist to get the Prize. Nor have the past recipients been all dark, serious writers. There was Salman Rushdie, too,” he says.

Then he analyses the cause: “Maybe, it's because I've such a vast volume of comic novels under my belt. But pray, it's not my first book. I've been writing for the past 27 years. Seriously speaking, I'm happy I make people laugh but I don't make them go wild laughing. There is always an issue involved, there are other sentiments.”

Full report here Hindu

'Booker Prize is like backward shining light'

Novelist Howard Jacobson, who won the Man Booker Prize for his The Finkler Question, says the award is like a "backward shining light" that seems to bless all his previous books. "I feel now that the Man Booker couldn't have happened at a more wonderful time. It seems to bless all my previous books. It is like a backward shining light, benefiting all the books I have written," Jacobson told IANS in a telephone interview from London.

"I advise young aspiring writers to read the best of literature. And if they do not succeed early in life, let Howard Jacobson be a lesson that one can succeed even at the age of 68," Jacobson, who is of Jewish origin and often describes himself as a 'Jewish Jane Austen', said.

The Manchester-born Jacobson, who was earlier long-listed twice for the Man Booker Prize - in 2006 for Kalooki Nights and for Who's Sorry Now in 2002, is compared to Philip Roth, the famous American-Jewish novelist.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Kapil Sibal calls for a neighbourhood book policy

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal has said that there should a neighborhood book policy in the country.

He said the aim should be that in the manner of neighborhood schools, there should be neighborhood libraries and reading rooms.

While speaking at a Round Table held to discuss the policy in the national capital, Kapil Sibal gave his suggestion to the Task Force that has prepared the raft National Book Promotion Policy.

He added that the model of libraries/reading rooms being followed in Tamil adu (pointed out and praised by some members of the round table) could be looked at by the Task Force to be incorporated in their report.

Sibal, however, said that state governments would have to be involved in this.

Speaking at the conclusion of a discussion during which a host of suggestions were made regarding the draft policy, the Union Human Resource Minister asked the Task Force to rework on the draft policy accordingly and also asked it to hold meetings with students and parents who are also stakeholders, subsequent to a suggestion in this regard by a participant in the Round Table.

Full report here Sify

A cover story

With the advent of e-books, book cover designers talk about the winds of change

Admit it, we judge books by their covers. Books are like people. They come dressed in different outfits. Some are sombre old men in black. Some others are inscribed with the topsy turvy letters of youth. Authors of books are celebrated but the designers who make the covers are too often forgotten.

With the advent of e-books, will book covers become a thing of the past and turn cover designers into an endangered species? In the city, the world of book cover designers is buzzing about the winds of change. “I hope I get to do a lot more than just the cover. Maybe multiple covers for each book?” says Kedarnath Gupta, an independent illustrator for Hachette India. Bena Sareen, 42, Creative Designer, Penguin Books, India, adds that she is excited at the possibility of interaction that e-book covers will allow.

Most designers have chosen this field as a vocation. Shuka Jain, Art Director of Harper Collins, who ventured into book designing because it combined her two loves — art and books — too says that she is far from worried about the virtual encroachment. Sareen adds that she was an avid sociologist for many years before a chance meeting with a graphic design professor in the US convinced her that this was a profession she could pursue. Gupta, on the other hand, went from daytime copywriter who doubled as an illustrator at night for six years, to a full-time illustrator recently.

Full report here Indian Express

Kapoor and Chopra to be animated?

Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra could be animated in a cartoon version of their rom-com Anjaana Anjaani.

The cartoon could follow plans for a series of comic books based on the two characters who meet when they are both on the verge of suicide, New Kerala has reported.

Producer Sajid Nadiadwala told the site: "A lot of us involved with this film felt the Priyanka and Ranbir characters will translate well into comic books.

"We are in negotiation. But I can't really talk about the project until all the deals are done."

Full report here Digital Spy

Amazon pledges to fight any increase in e-book prices

Online retailer Amazon UK has pledged to its Kindle customers that it would fight back publishing houses' plans to increase the prices of e-books.

Amazon UK's comments emerged as some publishing houses are mulling over plans to adopt an "agency model" for selling their e-books across platforms. The adoption of the agency model will make publishers setters of the consumer price of their e-books.

But, the online retailer claims that any increase in the prices of the e-books will not only affect the consumers, but also the publishers and authors.

Commenting on the topic, Amazon wrote in a blog post, "For a number of reasons, we think this is a damaging approach for readers, authors, booksellers and publishers alike."

Full report here Top News

Friday, October 15, 2010

Granta 112: Paksitan

If the most poignant image of the Partition of 1947 is sought in fiction, one will have to turn to Saadat Hasan Manto. Specifically to Bishen Singh, the “lunatic” Sikh in Manto’s Toba Tek Singh, who, failing to figure out whether his native village was in India or Pakistan, refuses to budge from the no-man’s-land between the two countries. We are now 63 years removed from that episode of blood and pain, and reading Granta’s latest Pakistan issue, a collection of short stories, essays, poems and images from mostly Pakistani writers and artists, one realises that the intellectual moorings have also shifted from a question of where-is-home to what-is-home.

Granta 112: Pakistan; Rs599; pp 288
That question of Pakistani identity is complicated not just because of its ethnic or cultural diversity, but also because the country thrives in popular perception through a series of negative associations. For India, it’s the arch adversary with whom it had to fight three wars; for America, it’s a cauldron of jihadi fanaticism that has suddenly intruded into the consciousness; for the rest, it’s a country whose democracy is periodically undermined by direct or proxy military intervention.

Granta’s collection — its ornate cover designed by artist Islam Gull with the same industrial paints used to decorate trucks — tries to represent some of the vibrant potency in contemporary Pakistani society, to sift through all the violence and anger and find some meaning or even traces of humanity in the chaos, to critique its own society while also shredding apart America’s foreign policy that has significantly contributed to the mess.

Full review here Hindustan Times

A clash of worldviews

It’s chick lit. Good lord, no, it’s far from chick lit. It’s very funny. Oh yeah? Then how come it makes you shudder? It’s vastly different from the kind of novel we’ve come to expect from Pakistani writers. No, it’s just the same. You want to whack the heroine, she’s so annoying. You want to hug her and take her away to a place where life is less traumatic than where she is now. You laugh at the way the media is portrayed in the book. You wince because it seems so familiar. You send up a silent prayer of thanks to whoever is responsible for where you live. You know that, if you weren’t so deliberately blind, where you live is actually quite similar to where this book is set.

Beautiful From This Angle
Maha Khan Phillips
Penguin
Rs250; pp 240
That’s a lot of internal argument for a novel that’s only 232 pages long, but you can’t read Pakistani writer Maha Khan Phillips’s Beautiful From This Angle without putting it down every few pages to struggle with yourself. The blurb makes it seem simple; so does the first chapter. Then, everything explodes.

So, here’s Amynah Farooqui, a 24-year-old Page 3-type chick who writes a column called ‘Party Queen on the Scene’ for a magazine in Karachi. She’s rich, her parents have separate love lives, she drinks, smokes, does coke (not the soft drink), picks up lovers whenever she feels like, is friends with a TV producer who’s making a reality show featuring British celebrities called ‘Who Wants to Be a Terrorist?’, and is writing an Oppressed Woman’s Novel, about a British Pakistani girl whose father forcibly marries her to a cousin in the homeland — a man who beats her, incarcerates her and kills her dog, Fifi.

Life, for Amynah, is good.

Full review here Hindustan Times

The mother of all goddesses

In a fascinating recounting of the story of Hariti, a child-devourer whom the Buddha brought to the path of Righteousness, and who then went on to become one of Buddhism’s — and
From Ogress to Goddess: Hariti
Madhurika K Maheshwari
IIRNS Publications
Rs3,000; pp 244
India’s — foremost Mother Goddesses, Madhurika K. Maheshwari’s From Ogress to Goddess — Hariti — A Buddhist Deity focuses on a deity that once enjoyed more prominence in the Indian subcontinent and beyond than it does today. Maheshwari’s study is very readable and wide-ranging, with its focus being the erstwhile prominent deity.

According to early Buddhist tradition, Hariti the Yakshini (yakshas and yakshinis being divine beings with benevolent and malevolent aspects), was an ogress who also became the city of Rajgriha’s protector demi-goddess, changed her wicked propensity for devouring children after Gautama Buddha helped her understand that her anguish for her missing child was no different than the sorrow felt by the parents of children she had eaten. Following her repentance, the Buddha raised Hariti to a divine status, making her protector not just of children and expectant mothers, but also of the Buddhist Sangha and its stupas, viharas, monastery-structures, people and morals.

Hariti became the predominant Mother-Goddess in India from about circa 1st century BC to 1st century AD and retained her relevance over the centuries, often becoming incorporated with local sub-regional goddesses, and with goddesses called upon to protect children from disease, death and disaster. It may be noted that Hariti became not just a protective deity and  fertility goddess — in common with other yakshinis in Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism — but she was also the consort of Panchika Kubera, king of the Yakshas and Lord of Wealth.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Books: The Old Friends

I’m sorry but I just don’t get people who can read a book, profess to love it, and then pass it on to someone else. I guess that makes me a selfish so-and-so who doesn’t like to share. But no matter how hard I try, I find it impossible to let go of a book that has given me hours of pleasure – and will do so again when I get around to re-reading it in a year or so (as I inevitably will).

See, that’s the problem. It’s not that I don’t like to share. It’s just that for me, books are not just objects that you can pass on from one person to another. For me, they are old friends with whom I have an on-going relationship. I turn to them for cheering up when I am feeling low. I fall back on them for companionship on a rainy afternoon. I find new delights in them every time I read them afresh. And sometimes, they function as an aide-memoire, reminding me of happier times when I had read them for the very first time.

The books I had to study for my English Honours course in college still occupy pride of place on my shelves. Only now, I can dip into them for pleasure instead of worrying about tricky exam questions I might have to answer later. Hardy perennials like Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer come in handy when I am feeling a tad nostalgic for my youth. Donna Leon, Elizabeth George and Val McDermid are tucked away in case I should ever want to lose myself in a murder mystery (and no, it makes no difference that I already know who did it). Jodi Picoult is the perfect comfort read over a lazy weekend. And then, there are the classics like novels by Jane Austen, which never get old no matter how many times I read them.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Michael Caine eyes literary future

Hollywood veteran Michael Caine is planning to write a novel after he completes the next Batman film. The-77-year-old Oscar-winner says he is sick of lawyers telling him that he cannot write about certain things in his autobiography and wants freedom as a writer. Caine just released his second autobiography The Elephant to Hollywood, and he has promised his fans that his next book will be a work of fiction, Entertainment Weekly reported.

"I love writing so much that once I'm finished with Batman, I'm going to write fiction.

"When I was writing my first book, I talked with Kirk Douglas, who had written one of his own. I told him that the lawyers were always saying, 'You can't say that or you'll get sued'. He said to me, 'Write fiction, Michael. You can tell the truth.' Isn't that a great line?"

Love amidst chaos

The irony in the title immediately strikes you. The Luck Of The Jews is a true story about love and providence amidst twentieth century’s darkest period — the Holocaust.

The Luck Of The Jews
Michael Benanav
Global Vision Press
Rs.395 
The author, a journalist, traces the lives of his grandparents Joshua and Isadora, both victims of the Nazi pogrom. After escaping from separate concentration camps, their paths miraculously cross aboard a refugee ship bound for Palestine. Three days later, and without any common language between them, the two are married.

This well-researched book is not about the Holocaust as much as it is about the triumph of the human spirit. And it is as important a historical micro narrative as it is the author’s personal quest for answers.

With a journalist’s eye for detail, Benanav succeeds in drawing us into the times and the spaces he describes. One only wishes he had spent more pages describing his  grandparents’ life post-marriage and their eventual shift to America. But that’s a minor shortfall in a book that’s both important and gripping.

Full review here Hindustan Times

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Howard Jacobson wins Booker Prize

British author Howard Jacobson was the surprise winner of the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for The Finkler Question, the first comic novel to scoop one of the English-speaking world's most coveted literary awards.

The 68-year-old writer and critic, who specialises in writing about what it means to be Jewish in Britain today, was the rank outsider with bookmaker Ladbrokes ahead of the announcement, while Tom McCarthy's C was firm favourite.

Jacobson, whose first novel appeared 27 years ago, said he had begun to wonder whether he would ever win the prize, now in its 42nd year.

"I was truly flabbergasted," he told reporters after receiving the award in the medieval splendour of London's Guildhall. "I'm so sick of being described as the 'underrated Howard Jacobson'.

"They (Man Booker judges) took me in their arms a little bit in the longlist, the shortlist felt like an embrace. I never thought the affair was going to be consummated."

Full report here Reuters

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

E-book industry booms in China

The e-book industry in China is booming and is now the second biggest in the world after the US industry.

In 2009, the number of e-books sold in China reached 3.82 million, and that in the first half of 2010 amounted to over 20 per cent of the world's total.

However, there had been a few problems in the popularity of the e-book industry, leading to the country's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) releasing a few instructions, Xinhua reported.

The problems include weak protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), lack of industry-wide standards and a dearth of domestically-produced reading material. The administration also outlined a few tasks for the promotion of the industry.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Mandela book offers personal portrait

A new volume of Nelson Mandela memoirs goes on sale on Tuesday in 22 countries and 20 languages. Conversations with Myself was compiled with the 92-year-old Mandela's blessing by a team of archivists, editors and collaborators who worked from decades of notes, letters, recorded conversations and other material.

The editors promise a personal portrait of the anti-apartheid icon - faults, frailties and all.

In a foreword, US President Barack Obama writes that Mandela, who largely retired from public life in 2004, is inspiring because he is human.

Full report here Hindustan Times/ AP

Saturday, October 9, 2010

This will be a shock for elites: Bush

Former US President George W. Bush has said that he is enjoying his life of not being in the limelight at the White House. Speaking at a scholarship benefit for the University of Mobile in Alabama: Bush said: “I loved being your president, but frankly, I’m having the time of my life not being your president.”

The former President also gave a preview of his soon-to-be released memoir Decision Points, and said that writing the book was an “interesting experience”.

“I have written a book. This will come as a shock for some of the elites. They didn’t think I could read a book, much less write one,” The New York Post quoted Bush, as saying.

“Here are the stories, and you can decide what you would have done. It’s not judgmental. It’s a book that tries to describe the environment in which I was honored to be your president,” he added.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Salman Rushdie pens kids' book

Salman Rushdie, the prize-winning Indian-born writer, has in the past based novels on the politics of India and Pakistan. But his latest book is for teenagers, and the inspiration — at least some of it — came from video games.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rushdie said Luka and the Fire of Life, his new novel, was written as a birthday present for his 13-year-old son, Milan.

The book, a fable about a young boy's adventures as he tries to save his father's life, is the second novel Rushdie has written for children. His first, "Haroun and the Sea of Stories," was written for his older son, Zafar, in 1989, as Rushdie was under threat of death.

Earlier that year, Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had issued a religious edict, or fatwah, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie, saying his novel "The Satanic Verses" had insulted Islam.

The new book, Rushdie said Friday, Oct 8 drew inspiration from elements of computer games — though he admitted that he was terrible at the games and his sons usually beat him.

"Video games are often based on a classical quest format. That fits well with a fable," he told the AP. "The book is about the value of life, and in video games you can have a thousand lives. So I contrasted those two things."

Rushdie said much has changed since his first children's book, which he described as a response to being forced into hiding. The fatwah, which came amid angry protests and book burnings across the Muslim world, put Rushdie under police protection for almost 10 years.

"This was a dark time for me and I tried to fill the novel with light and to give it a happy ending. Happy endings were things I had become very interested in at the time," he said.

Rushdie said he enjoyed writing the two children's books, but he doesn't see himself becoming a children's author.

Full report here AP

‘I am a story teller’

With her second novel The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos out recently, Margaret Mascarenhas opens up about how growing up in Venezuela has impacted her writing.

Eight years after Penguin India published her first novel Skin, Margaret Mascarenhas' latest novel The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos was published in the U.S. by Hachette Book Group Inc. A novel set in Venezuela, The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos is a differently crafted novel that gently reels in its reader into a story of love, family, belonging and the “search for individual truth”, set against a backdrop of revolution, uncertainty and change. Shortly after its India launch recently, Margaret Mascarenhas talks about the book, its subtext of resistance, growing up in Venezuela, and the influences on her work as a writer.

The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos is an intriguingly crafted book. You've used magic realism a lot. The final chapter catches the reader completely by surprise.
Yes, everybody gets zapped by the end. But it's really up to the reader to decide if it's this or that. I grew up in South America, so magic realism is part of my psyche. But in this book, I turn magical realism completely on its head.Technically, I was doing several things. I am questioning the genre of magical realism. I am converting to writing an essentially oral cliff-hanger telenovela format. And I also tried to tell a story in a closed third person narration, through the point of view of nine characters that the reader must get in love with immediately, and never repeat a character, while pulling the base story line through those nine characters' point of view. I had to see if I could pull that off successfully. And I think I have.

When I write I find it's important for me to challenge myself technically, in story telling, in terms of format and the way I would present it. It took me five years to complete, but I can never feel any urgency to rush things until I am fully satisfied with the work myself.

Full interview here Hindu

Mystique of Mumbai

In her book City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay, Gillian Tindal evoked an image of a nascent city, a tangle of masonry, bazaar and tram lines forging into the swamp. In books set in more recent times (India: A Million Mutinies Now, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Shantaram, Bombay and Mumbai: The City In Transition), we see a proud metropolis hollowed out by desperation, violent self assertion and crime. For a sense of how ordinary people, rich, poor and middle class, negotiate this turbulent landscape, we have the writings of Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Chandra, Anita Desai, Amit Chaudhuri, Manil Suri and a host of less widely celebrated but much beloved local authors and poets. This treasure trove notwithstanding, one feels, there is still much to be said, much more to be understood about this great and complex city. And it is with pleasant anticipation that one greets Gyan Prakash’s Mumbai Fables.

Prakash is the Dayton-Stockton professor of history at Princeton University whose previous books include weighty titles such as Bonded Histories: Genealogies of Labor Servitude in Colonial India (1990) and Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (1999). But with Mumbai Fables, a subject he says has preoccupied him for much of the last decade, he seems to have tapped into a less theoretical and more personal register. Explaining his motivation early on in the book, he describes Mumbai, or Bombay, as it then was, as an object of immense fascination and longing for him as a young boy growing up in Patna.

Full report here Indian Express

DK Books to focus now on e-books, travel

Dorling-Kindersley-India (DK-India), a publishing subsidiary of Penguin Books, is expanding its footprint in the Indian market with new digital and travel titles in 2010-11. It has cut down its list of titles post-recession in 2009 to concentrate on its quick-yield travel, lifestyle and digital segments.

'We are building our digital operations in India,' Aparna Sharma, managing director of DK India, told IANS here.

In 2009, the imprint cut down on its titles by at least one-third to survive the downturn... and the trend continues.

'We have narrowed the focus down to our strengths - travel, lifestyles and digital books so that we get the maximum returns. We are publishing nearly 180 titles a year and we do not want to increase the number,' she said.

However, children's books remain a priority area.

Full report here Sify

Carnival of books

Lyndy Cooke, executive director of The Hay Festival of the Literature and the Arts, talks about the event that comes to Thiruvananthapuram in November

It will be carnival time in the city in November as The Hay Festival of the Literature and the Arts hits the shores of Kerala. An annual festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, it is one of the world's most prestigious literary festivals and it's hosting its first India edition in Kerala with around 40 leading authors.

The festival, which is on from November 12 to 14 at Kanakakunnu Palace promises to be a delight for bibliophiles. Besides literature, it will also explore new ideas on arts, poetry et al.

An annual event
Says Lyndy Cooke, executive director of the event: “The Hay Festival in the United Kingdom covers a range of ideas, thoughts and topics. Environment, arts, history, politics, fiction…With around 500 events across 11 days it attracts record audience each year. At the previous Hay Festival, we registered an attendance of 200,000. In Kerala, the Hay Festival will be an annual event and we will invite the best international authors, thinkers, publishers and up-and-coming authors. The focus of the fete this year will be more specific, centering on literature, environment, culture, health and education. We will start it small and then let it grow.”

Full report here Hindu

The myth meister

The author weaves another engrossing yarn, all the while addressing some of his perennial concerns about human life and expression

Luka and the Fire of Life
Salman Rushdie
Jonathan Cape
Rs 915; Pp 216
Nearly two decades ago, Salman Rushdie wrote a novel while he was in hiding after Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa on him, over his novel, The Satanic Verses. That delightful novel was Haroun and the Sea of Stories, an in-your-face response, showing that he could not be silenced and he would not disappear into oblivion.

There, a little boy called Haroun travels to the source of all stories to restore the gift of gab, which his father, Rashid Khalifa, had lost. It dazzled readers, even as it had a particular poignancy and relevance—it was a stirring defence of free speech—of arguments, talkativeness, and verbal anarchy, against khatam-shud, or silence, the dark place where only one voice could speak. Rushdie had written that novel for his son Zafar, who was, to borrow a word Rushdie coined in Midnight’s Children, “nearlynine” at the time of the fatwa.

With Luka and the Fire of Life, Rushdie returns to the Khalifa family. Written for his second son, Milan, who is now 13, the story is about Haroun’s brother, Luka, who is determined to help his father. The Shah of Blah, as Rashid Khalifa is known, is back, but only just: He is ill; life is seeping out, and tubes sustain him by feeding him and people worry around him. Twelve-year-old Luka has to complete a hair-raising journey through the world of magic, and in a nod to the Promethean myth, he must bring the fire of life to the earth, to revive his father.

Full review here Mint

Friday, October 8, 2010

The clean-up act

Intended to promote a national movement on civility, it lacks a clean raison d’être

Avoid excessive use of hand gestures as it can cause stress to others” reads an instructional nugget, part of a chapter called Day to Day Decency in a book on etiquette and hygiene by former cop Kiran Bedi. The book, Broom & Groom, has been co-authored by Pavan Choudary, who calls himself a wisdom educator.

Let’s face it: Indians aren’t known to have the most evolved standards of social etiquette and personal hygiene. But is a guidebook—one that fashions itself as a nation-building exercise, no less—an answer to that? Will people who make revolting guttural noises to cough up phlegm divorce their long-standing morning ritual after they read: “Be aware if you get phlegm and get treated for it.”

Bedi is the winner of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. She has authored books in the past and hosts a popular television show, Aap ki Kachehri. Choudary has authored several books and also hosts a television show on Doordarshan called Hum Aise Kyon Hain.

Full report here Mint 

'Being a father changed my writing'

Salman Rushdie is apologetic. His publishers hadn't factored in that America had gone into 'daylight saving time' and so he called me 40 minutes earlier than originally planned. But when the '+401' number from New York flashed on my mobile, I wasn't unprepared, having helped myself with a glass of what I had read somewhere to be the 63-year-old writer's favourite drink: Jameson on the rocks.

After the disrupting force of The Satanic Verses (1988), Rushdie had written his first children's book, the 1990 Haroun and the Sea of Stories. That novel had been written for his then 11-year-old son Zafar after he had wanted to read something by his father that 'children could read'. Twenty years later, Rushdie's out with Luka and the Fire of Life, this time for his younger son Milan. "He told me that it was time he had a book written for him too," says Rushdie, who presented the manuscript to Milan on his 12th birthday.

Full report here Hindustan Times

When eReaders nudge into bookshelves

It is a sunny afternoon, and Pradeep Palazhi the COO of Bangalore-based EC Media International P Ltd (http://bit.ly/F4TPradeepEC) is cheerful. Understandably so, because only a day ago his company’s Wink, the desi eReader, was out in New Delhi with a price tag of less than Rs 12,000.

“I foresee eReaders accelerating a larger trend towards electronic/ digital publishing,” he begins, without batting an eyelid, during our interaction in Business Line. “Digital media in publishing is not going to replace printed media. However, it is going to be growing in size and share of the publishing market. More and more content will be published in electronic and printed formats to start off and the balance will tilt towards electronic formats in the future.”

Another interesting aspect, in Pradeep’s view, is the way the whole eBook phenomenon is going to affect the traditional libraries. The jury is still out, but early trends indicate that the library model will have to undergo a significant makeover in the process, he avers.

A thought that Pradeep offers to the traditional bookshops is that they will have to come up with innovative models to adapt to the eBook revolution. “While eBooks are not going to replace printed books, they will definitely reduce their share of the market. Digital publishing or eBook publishing will result in increase of self-publishing market. It will be easier and cost effective for authors to publish their titles which may not be accepted by a traditional publisher. This market will see a huge growth over the next few years.”

Full report here Hindu

Dreamtech Press launches book on HR

Dreamtech Press adds releases Human Resource Management Book into its management book series. This book is structured in a reader-friendly manner to explain the principles and fundamentals of human resource management. To enhance readers’ knowledge, the book focuses on the current and emerging trends in the field of HRM, such as Succession Planning, Change Management, HRD Audit and Accounting, Future of HRM, High Quality Work Life, iHRM and HRIS.

This book also includes figures, charts, tables, exhibits, and real world examples to simplify the complex concepts and to enrich the understanding of the readers. In addition, case studies are provided to give a practical view of the concepts and theories of HRM.

Summary is provided at the end of each chapter to recollect the basics of the discussed topics. Exercises are also supplemented to evaluate the learning of the reader.

Full report here Forestlaneshul

Bonding with books

A meeting with ‘Gnanalaya’ B. Krishnamurthy and falls in love with his collection

The warm smell of parchment is an aphrodisiac to him.

Surely, there must be something stimulating about sitting in a high ceilinged room, walled in by majestic tomes and musty paperbacks on all sides, flipping through centuries of tales waiting to be told.

When a book is opened, time stands still for a special man as the moment is sheer magic for him. Magic that continues to tie B. Krishnamurthy to his books.

Bibliophile Krishnamurthy is the proud possessor of 70,000 titles. His ‘Gnanalaya’ Research Library at Tirukokarnam near Pudukottai is easily one of the biggest private libraries in the country. The USP of his library is the wide collection of priceless first editions in Tamil.

“First editions are always special. Often, subsequent editions are shorn off the preface, forewords and valuable introductions that the author may have written. These provide a rare insight into the life and times of the author, the social and historical context which can enhance research.”

Full report here Hindu

Competing on technology to build global wealth

Today’s global war is one of wealth, rather than military, and what can help generate wealth can be a focus on, among other things, technologies, suggests Handel Jones in ‘ChinAmerica: The uneasy partnership that will change the world’ (www.tatamcgrawhill.com).

In the US, individual companies such as Cisco, Apple, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and HP are highly innovative and have high market share in these industries around the world, the author notes. “A number of these companies are also creating new market opportunities. It is, consequently, important to regard these companies as part of the solution for building wealth.”

Restructuring plan
Cautioning that these are not enough, Jones advises the US that additional corporations in other markets need to be stimulated so that in the aggregate they create a positive trade balance. The combination of the Internet, mobile broadband access, demand for better medical care, and the need for more efficient automobiles and transportations systems will create a range of new business opportunities, he assures.

Full report here Hindu

For an inclusive business growth

Bottom of the pyramid, you may know as where potential profits could reside. Perhaps it is also time to get introduced to ‘Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder,’ the title of a new book from Harvard by Jody Heymann. The book takes up three questions: Are there additional ways to increase a company’s success? Can there be profits in the private sector while bringing benefits to others? Is there a way for the company and its employees to succeed together?

The answer to these questions comes in the form of success stories of companies from around the world; companies which have been profitable for their owners and shareholders not only while being profitable for their employees, but because they have been profitable for their employees.

These firms have been able to do this for a simple reason, the author explains. How work is structured, how it is rewarded, and how workplaces encourage employee engagement are all central to the profitability of firms and to the quality of the daily lives of working men and women, she adds. “Employees determine 90 per cent of most businesses’ profitability.”

Full review here Hindu

Myth of homogeneity of internal customers

People are more attracted to companies that would provide customised people practices, and they are more likely to remain there and perform at their best, write Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith in ‘Workforce of One’ (www.hbr.org). The book turns around a traditional belief of organisations as places that demand you fit them and says that you can design organisations to fit the employee.

Such organisations, as the authors describe, can optimise the performance of every individual by treating each employee as ‘workforce of one’ with unique needs, aspirations, and preferences, rather than treating the workforce as a single homogeneous entity.

Shape your own jobs
The book discusses extensively the case of Best Buy which allows its employees to shape their own jobs in such a way as to draw on their own unique interests and strengths. For example, ‘store employees are encouraged to use their own words and personality’ to customise the company’s basic selling process. In the ‘Results-Only Work Environment’ of Best Buy, employees can ‘largely define their own learning experiences’ through blogs, wikis, YouTube, and other peer-to-peer technologies.

Full report here Hindu

'Nobel is recognition of Spanish language'

Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa said the Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to him on Thursday represented a world recognition of the Spanish language.

Vargas Llosa said hours after the Swedish Academy for Nobel prizes announced him this year's winner that it came as a "total surprise" because he thought he was out of the running in the past two decades.

Vargas Llosa, 74, said he thought he would be spending his days quietly in Lima, Madrid and New York until early Thursday, when he learned that he had won the most prestigious literary award in the world.

"I was not a candidate for the past 20 years," Vargas Llosa said. "Look, because of the Swedish Academy, my life has changed. It will be a mad house, but I will try to survive."

Full report here Hindustan Times

Thursday, October 7, 2010

KBC quiz book hits stands

The Official Kaun Banega Crorepati Quiz Book, 110 Crore Hindustani, compiled by a team comprising quiz whiz Siddhartha Basu, also the producer of the show from Big Synergy, will hit stands today across the country. The book, launched last week in Mumbai by host Amitabh Bachchan, is Kapish Mehra, the owner of Rupa & Co, the book’s publishers, confirms the news and says, “The subscription was double of its first print run. We’ve rarely had this kind of a situation where our first edition is overbooked or should I say, oversubscribed, even before it hits the stands. It’s a positive sign.”

The first edition of the book runs into 90,000 copies, of which 20,000 were ordered from Bachchan’s hometown of Allahabad. “There’s no denying the fact that Bachchan sir’s following is unprecedented and he’s a rage there. I’m not surprised that there’s a street named after him. I’m sure once the show is on air, the demand for the copies will shoot up,” says Mehra.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Mario Vargas Llosa – the ‘European-thinking’ author

The life of Peruvian-born author Mario Vargas Llosa is like the story of the prodigal son.

Peru’s most famous author was on Thursday awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. He has lived and worked for half his adult life in Europe and North America, winning numerous prizes along the way, among them the 1995 Cervantes Prize and the 1996 German Peace Prize sponsored by the German publishers and booksellers association.

As a result, the author is often referred to as a “European-thinking” writer.

But only three of Vargas Llosa’s numerous novels are not related to Peru. These are ‘The War at the End of the World’ and his two most recent works, ‘The Feast of the Goat: A Novel’ and ‘The Way to Paradise: A Novel’. Everything else by the Madrid-based author, who by his own account lived in more than 40 homes in his life, was about life in his native country.

Full report here Hindu

BJP sends books on RSS to Rahul Gandhi

Upset over Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's remarks about the "fanatical" Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday sent a collection of books on the Hindu group to Gandhi to enlighten him about its "contribution in nation building".

"We want that the 'Yuvraj' (prince) of the Congress must learn first about RSS before giving any comments on it. For this, we have sent a collection of six books to him," BJP spokesperson Vijay Pathak told reporters here.

"We hope after reading the books, ignorant Rahul will gain some knowledge about the Sangh and also the activities the organisation undertakes for helping the citizens of the country," he added.

Full report here NDTV

Literature Nobel for Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa (74), celebrated Peruvian-Spanish author and one of the most renowned novelists of his generation, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat".

After the award was announced, Peter Englund, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy said that Mr. Llosa was "one of the great Latin American storytellers — a master of dialogue who has been searching for the elusive concept known as the total novel, and who believes in the power of fiction to improve the world."

While Mr. Llosa is known for his prolific writing that included comedies and murder mysteries, his most powerful novels have contained commentary on historical and political conditions in his native Peru and other parts of Latin America. The "monumental" work that Conversation in the Cathedral (1969) represents for example, was deeply concerned with the ravaging of Peruvian politics and government under the dictatorship of Manuel A. Odría in the 1950s.

Full report here Hindu

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

With tale of love, Mohammed Hanif escapes Pakistan's realities

It's not always easy to do so, but Pakistani journalist-writer Mohammed Hanif of 'A Case of Exploding Mangoes' fame has turned his mind off from the grim truths confronting his country with a love story that touches on terror and trauma.

An extract from Hanif's new novel, Butt and Bhatti was published in the Pakistan Granta 112, a special issue of the magazine devoted to the country. The roller-coaster tale weaves itself around a policeman, Teddy Butt, and a nurse, Alice Bhatti.

'This is the first time I am trying to write a love story. It is one of those great Pakistani civilian love stories,' Hanif, who was in Kerala to attend the Kovalam Literary Festival, told IANS.

The book will be published next year in Britain and India. The inspiration for the book comes from what is going on in the country.

'I am a journalist by profession and I am grounded in realities. I have to write 1,200 words about them often. But when you are writing a book - in a way you are trying to escape what is happening around you, our darker side. It is a grown up thing to do, because one can't really go back to being a child - not at my age,' said Hanif, born in 1964.

Full report here Sify

Multimedia creates buzz at book fair

The world's biggest book fair was inaugurated on Tuesday, with an increased number of exhibitors expected to focus on the digital and multimedia sectors that are rapidly transforming the industry.

The fair expects 7,533 exhibitors from 111 countries, a three-percent increase on the previous year, the exhibition's director Juergen Boos told reporters.

"Well-told stories are the engine of the book fair and new technologies ensure one thing above all: the demand for content is increasing," he said.

Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the German publishers and booksellers association which organises the fair, said only about one percent of the 9.6-billion-euro German book market was currently made up by digital offerings. However, he said he could see the market rising to 10 per cent in the near future.

Full report here Hindustan Times 

Old wine in new bottle

More like fine aged wine, Delhi’s rich past and present, flora and fauna, and its delectable flavours find place in the pages of this set of books

You could call it jumping on the Commonwealth Games bandwagon or smart packaging. But you could also call it presenting a mostly first-rate selection of fiction and non-fiction books that have the Capital city as their focus.

The big daddy of English publishing in India, Penguin Books, has unveiled the Delhi Bookshelf, a set of 21 titles, 20 of which have been published previously. Three-four books each have been slotted in different categories—anthologies, biographies, histories, stories and food. Two titles each come under journeys and “others”. And one of the two in this last hold-all category is the gem Trees of Delhi, by the film-maker-turned-self-taught naturalist Pradeep Kishen. A delightful compendium of the trees that can be found in Delhi—non-native species planted along its boulevards and in its many gardens, as well as those found in the wild in the Ridge area—it has bite-size nuggets of historical and general anecdotes, photos and diagrams, all presented with a simple and straightforward elegance.

“The last Englishman will be an Indian”—maybe so, but many Dilliwalas are coming around to the view that the last of their ilk will turn out to be a Scotsman. We are talking, of course, about William Dalrymple, author of another classic in this list, City of Djinns. His more recent offering, a biography of Bahadur Shah Zafar, titled The Last Mughal, makes the cut too, as does his essay in the excellent anthology, Celebrating Delhi, edited by Mala Dayal and released just a couple of months ago. The other personage in this collection is the redoubtable and irrepressible Khushwant Singh, as a novelist (Delhi) and as an editor of an anthology (City Improbable: Writings on Delhi). Singh has also contributed a memorable piece on his father Sir Sobha Singh, who built and owned large chunks of New Delhi, to Celebrating Delhi.

Full report here Mint

Penguin India bags rights for Kiran Desai’s new novel, Pamuk

Ravi Singh, editor-in-chief and publisher of Penguin India, said, "Being chosen to publish Orhan Pamuk is easily among the biggest moments in Penguin India’s history. Also it is a thrill and a privilege to publish a writer of Kiran’s astonishing skill..." Penguin India has acquired the subcontinent rights for two of the most eagerly sought after authors in the literary world — Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai’s new novel “The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny” and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s next three works including his new novel “A Strangeness in My Mind“.

Desai became the youngest woman to win the Man Booker Prize when her second novel “The Inheritance of Loss” (Penguin India) won the coveted literary prize in 2006. “The Inheritance of Loss” went on to become an international bestseller, and has sold an astounding 190,000 copies in India alone.

“The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny” promises to be bigger and even more compelling. Bought on the basis of a brilliant four page synopsis, the rights to publish the novel have been hotly contested by all the leading publishers of the world. The novel will be published in 2012.

Full report here Hindu

Bookwise: Friend, philosopher, field guide

Bird books and plant finders are not just for treks, they can bring the planet's wonders to your armchair

A friend recently gave us a field guide modestly titled Some South Indian Butterflies. He tried to buy it for us from the author, K. Gunathilagaraj, but the author made a present of it instead. So we consider this book particularly friendly.

Until now, to identify the butterflies in our green acre, I relied on a nephew and on “Common Butterflies of India” by Gay, Kehimkar and Punetha. It is an old but thorough book. From its mixed collection of line drawings, black-and-white photos and colour plates, I managed to name most of what I saw and also improve my own butterfly photos.

The new book, with colour photos on every page, is more exhaustive and easier to use. In just one read it answered several of my butterfly questions. It also replaced my confident assertions with the joys of taxonomic puzzlement. Once I would have declared that the beauty fluttering over the trellis was a crimson rose. Now I know it may be a common rose, a common mormon, a malabar rose or even a red helen. Then there are the delightful, oxymoronic names: how can a butterfly be imperial and at the same time common?

Full report here Hindu

Novel touch to fantasy

Nineteen-year-old Priya K. has given a fresh perspective to Greek myth in her debut novel.

It's not every day that a friend announces she's writing a book. Even rarer for her to inform you, a year later, that the manuscript's been accepted by a publisher.

Till a couple of months back, Priya K. would have introduced herself as a final year undergrad English Literature student at Stella Maris College. Now, she's the author of Prophecy: The Rise of the Sword, which will soon be available in book shops.

The book, which took her roughly two-and-a-half years to write, gives the timeless Greek myth of Atlantis a 21st century twist. This fantasy tale tells its reader that the land wasn't lost after all; the inhabitants of Atlantis migrated underwater to their new home, Lemuria, where they live to this day. And now a hip Delhi girl, Neha Sharma, is off to find it. Running to roughly 400 pages, the book promises “politics, power play, treachery and suspense” in the dark depths of the Indian Ocean.

full report here Hindu

Ode to a hero

‘The sword of revolution is sharpened at the whetstone of thoughts.' You mention ‘Bhagat Singh' and see the spark in his eyes. He is Chaman Lal, author and educationist who teaches Hindi but breathes Punjabi and Urdu. For long Lal has been relentlessly trying to paint the ‘true picture' of the revolutionary through his writings.

His latest book, Bhagat Singh Key Rajneetik Dastavez, published by National Book Trust and translated into Urdu by Hasan Musanna, titled, Bhagat Singh Ke Siyasi Dastavez has just hit the stands. Timely too considering Bhagat Singh's anniversary has just been observed across the country. This 233-page paperback is priced at Rs 85.

Lal, former Chairperson, Centre for Indian Languages, JNU, is a man on a mission. Delivering lectures, writing articles and books on Bhagat Singh has made Lal an authority on him. It all started four decades ago in his native place, Rampura Phul, Bhatinda. Then Hind Pocket Books brought out a series on the freedom fighters which was serialised in “Desh Bhakt Yadan” in Punjabi. This got Lal interested in Bhagat Singh. He has not looked back since.

Full report here Hindu

Graphic description

Sarnath Banerjee traces his career as a graphic novelist, his upcoming works and more

Talking to Sarnath Banerjee is like walking through the narrow by lanes of old Delhi, the city he's based in and writes about a lot – entertaining, full of surprises and very down to earth. The surprises Banerjee – often celebrated as India's ‘first graphic novelist' – packs in his witty one- liners brimming with black humour are very much like his stories.

So, it was a pleasure meeting him during the Third Kovalam Literary Festival that was conducted in the city last weekend, and chatting with him about his work and the graphic novel – comics by another name – as a form.

Fast-paced reading
The most chaotic and wondrous things happen in his work. Fast-paced like in cinema, the events take the reader on a ride spanning time. However, Banerjee prefers simplicity when it comes to describing his work: “A story is a gesture, we need stories to prop us up… it's like a cigarette or a bottle of wine – you drink it and remember it.”

Full report here Hindu

Life on her own terms

This novel may be set in Mumbai but definitely makes you recall chapters from your life and that of your friends.

Two best friends, living in with a boy who is protective, a job to die for and bosses who can't take their eyes off her; this is Laila's life. Sexy, hot and suave Laila has a job that suits her extroverted personality.

After finishing her schooling in Manhattan, Laila takes up a job at a magazine Guyzone and dons the role of a sex expert for her new column. Wherever she is, she always manages to attract men...

The plot
After breaking up with her boyfriend who has been cheating on her, she decides to stay away from relationships.

Her roommate is a freelance photographer, and he soon becomes a part of the Guyzone anniversary edition. Laila knows her strengths and weaknesses and soon becomes the centre of attraction even at her workplace.

Full report here Hindu

Notes of a wanderer

Former Indian diplomat B.S. Das's memoirs weaves anecdotes and personal anxieties to tell a fascinating story

The diplomatic world is a closed one but retired diplomats consistently give us a glimpse into this world through their memoirs which come out ever so often. Former Indian diplomat B.S. Das ushers the readers once more into this world with his book “Memoirs of an Indian Diplomat” (Tata McGraw Hill).

Das, joined IPS in 1948, the first batch of free India and then in 1960, he was posted on a foreign assignment by the Ministry of External Affairs. “I started from Moscow and went on to serve in Vietnam, UK, and Bhutan. This journey gave me an insight into some of the most important events in India's history which helped me gain a unique experience, there was greater intellectual maturation and greater self-realisation,” says Das.

Full report here Hindu

Know your CWG

Vijaya Khandurie's “Quiz Book” on Commonwealth Games take you on a trip that tests your memory and sporting knowledge.

The book concludes with a poignant reference to an Australian athlete. She was acclaimed as one of the most successful athletes to have represented a great sporting nation, winning sprint doubles (100m and 200m) at the Commonwealth Games in 1970 (Edinburgh) and 1974 (Christchurch) and signed off with a gold in 400m at Brisbane in 1982. She also won three Olympic silver medals (one in 1968 and two at the next Games in Munich). In 1995, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and two years later she sold one of her Olympic silver medals to raise funds and meet her medical expenses. She is presently living in Queensland.

The much-decorated Raelene Boyle richly deserves this space in ‘The Commonwealth Games Quiz Book' by Vijaya Khandurie. The Commonwealth Games are here but, sadly, negative publicity has cast a depressing spell over this avidly awaited sporting event in Delhi. Official merchandise, CWG-related cultural and entertainment shows, official theme songs, have slipped into the background as the organisers have struggled to cope with demands.

Full report here Hindu

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Evening is the new De

If 16 is sweet, 62 is svelte, at least when it comes to Shobhaa De. Here the glamorous author of “Shobhaa at Sixty” shares her perspective on aging with grace.

Even as she grows old she refuses to age. That's Shobhaa De for you — prolific author, one-time editor, long ago model but all-time icon. She turned 60 roundabout the same time India celebrated its 60th Independence Day, and that's when she came out with “Superstar India”, a saucily appropriate title to sum up the parallel she was drawing between her personal experiences and the trajectory of a young nation.

And now at 62, she has turned to more personal matters yet. In her recently published “Shobhaa at Sixty: Secrets of Getting it Right at Any Age” (Hay House India) she looks back at her own six decades and shares advice about enjoying one's time as a senior citizen. Advice is never welcome if it comes from someone who has done everything right the first time round. Luckily, or in the case of De, characteristically, the author is frank about her own mistakes and drawbacks, and in coming to terms with them, inspires others to feel as free with themselves. In this email interview, the Mumbai-based author answers questions on the concept of age and aging in her own sweet-62 style.

Do you think traditionally in Indian urban society (and probably villages too) people didn't feel such pressure to remain young as they do now? After all, life was in a pattern – studies, marriage, job, children, grandchildren. Within that, growing old was accepted, just as it was accepted that women never got to retire. Yet there was no superwoman tag to live up to.

What an interesting perspective! But you must remember, the mortality rate for women used to be very high those days. Most didn't survive beyond 50! Today, we eat better, live smart, are more fit — it's a worldwide phenomenon. The old pattern is no longer applicable. Women have broken through the mould. But yes, the totally ridiculous Superwoman tag has generated a new kind of neurosis and unfortunately, too many women are succumbing to the pressures of looking ‘hot' !

Full interview here Hindu

Monday, October 4, 2010

Long-listed for literary award

Salma had one regret as a writer. Though she arrived on the Tamil literary scene with her poems, powerfully expressing the pain of sufferings of women treated as sexual objects by men, she feels that her debut novel ‘Irandam Jaamangalin Kathai' was “deliberately ignored.”

But, an English translation by Laksmi Holmstrom titled ‘The Hour Past Midnight' did the magic. The novel is now in the long list of the first DSC Prize for South Asian Literature along with the works of well-known writers such as Amit Chaudhuri and Upamanyu Chatterjee. The prize, whose long-list has 14 books, carries a cash award of $50,000.

“I am happy that my novel is getting world-wide attention,” said Salma. The novel narrated hitherto unknown world of Muslim women in a male-dominated society, besides capturing their aspirations in the absence of any link with women outside their world. “It is the politics in the literary world that ensured that the novel did not get its due,” said Salma, who was then the president of a panchayat in Tiruchi. She took a plunge into politics in 2004 by joining the DMK. She was also fielded as the party candidate in Marungapuri Assembly constituency, but failed to win the election. The government later appointed her chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board.

Full report here Hindu

Indo-Pakistan debate at Kovalam Literary Fest

Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif rudely exploded the longheld feelgood myth that Indians and Pakistanis are long lost brothers.

"I have been hearing this mantra for quite long but we are different people. We might have shared a common history but we have interpreted it differently,'' the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes said in the irritated drawl of man who had been woken up from sleep.

The writer's body language alone was enough to suggest what he thought of 'IndoPak Relations: The Way Forward', the topic put up for debate at the end of the Kovalam Literary Festival. He sat on the dais as though he might easily slide down from the chair, frequently passed his hands through his adamantly curled hair and whenever he was asked whether he had anything to say he mostly began with an absentminded 'no'.

At one point, in a sarcastic reference to the topic of the debate, he said he did not know how things were going to move forward. Another time he suggested the debate reflected India's arrogance.
"Only you can conduct such a debate on India and Pakistan without referring to Kashmir.'' Hanif looked irredeemably suspicious.

Full report here New Indian Express

Lessons in learning

R Gopalakrishnan was in the Capital on October 1 to launch his new book When the Penny Drops: Learning What's not Taught, published by Penguin Books India.

How does a manager ‘learn’? Apart from, of course, the structured learning offered in B-schools and various other training programs. According to author, former CEO and now Executive Director of Tata Sons, R Gopalakrishnan “learning is ubiquitous, provided you are ready for it. If you have the humility, which makes you self-aware and open to learning, the penny can drop anywhere, anytime”.

This was the message from R Gopalakrishnan when he was in the Capital on October 1 to launch his new book ‘When the penny Drops: Learning What’s not Taught’, published by Penguin Books India.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Gopalakrishnan said, “As a management professional, I have learned my most important lessons when I was expecting them the least. The lessons have come from all kinds of people and all kinds of situation. So it is important to have the humility to learn. Without humility, one is not aware of one’s mistakes. You can learn only if you have the humility to learn, and are self-aware.”

During the launch ceremony the first copy was unwrapped by former chairman of the board of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Mr. M Damodaran and this was followed by a short conversation between the author and Mr. Arun Maira, Member, Planning Commission.

Full report here MBA Universe

UNESCO team to visit Visva-Bharati varsity

A United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) team will be visiting the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, this week to consider the possibility of declaring it a world heritage site.

The Ministry of Culture, through the Archaeological Survey of India, sent a dossier to the UNESCO earlier this year nominating Santiniketan as India's official entry for World Heritage Sites.

A review committee from the UNESCO would examine the proposal and visit the premises including Uttarayan, the complex where the residences of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore were located, the archives and museums and various other buildings which house murals, frescos and paintings, said a senior varsity official.

The team would also meet officials, cultural personalities and experts after which would consider the proposal and see whether the Vishva Bharati can be declared a heritage site. They would also see which areas of the University's sprawling 150 acre campus could be included.

Santiniketan was nominated as the official entry in 2010 keeping in mind that the country is celebrating the 150 th Birth Anniversary of the National Poet this year.

Full report here Hindu

Poor sequel

Ambani & Sons
Hamish McDonald
Roli; Rs 395; Pp 408
The Ambanis might have ensured The Polyester Prince, a biography of Dhirubhai Ambani, never saw the light of day in India. The sequel, Ambani & Sons, has had no such problem. Why? The first, and most obvious, when Dhirubhai was alive, no Indian industrialist even came near him, in either ambition or money (Gita Piramal suggests Ambani stands for ambition and money!). Today, the 27-storey Antilla notwithstanding, the Ambanis are a lot more approachable—among the big losers in the last burst of the Sensex, Ambani companies RIL and RCom were among the worst affected. During the 32 months it took for the Sensex to reach 20,000 points, RIL fell 34.7% and RCom 77.7% (Infosys rose 103.7%, TCS 103% and Tata Motors 44.62%). The Brothers Ambani are colossally huge, but they’re no longer the only game in town.

Second, sadly for the former New Delhi bureau chief of the Far Eastern Economic Review, the other reason why the new book has sailed through is that it isn’t a patch on the old one. It’s not just that three-fourths of the book is the same as the one written way back in 1998, though that’s a major minus, there’s no earth-shattering new nugget of information that’s not already known. So why even bother to try to ban the book?

Full report here Financial Express

PM daughter agrees with Roy’s stand

Writer-activist Arundhati Roy’s recent polemic on Maoism, development and governance has angered many in the UPA government, but the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s daughter, Ms Daman Singh, thinks that her writings are an ‘eye-opener’.

Talking to mediapersons at the sidelines of the Kovalam literary festival here, Ms Singh said: “She is a powerful writer and her writings are an eye-opener. I usually follow all her writings in popular magazines. She has a unique and powerful way of presenting things.”

When asked whether she agreed with Ms Roy’s take on Maoism and her fierce attack on the Centre, Ms Singh quipped, “I agree with some of her views and disagree with others.”

Full report here Deccan Chronicle 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A multi-layered perspective

The Absent State:
Insurgency as an Excuse
 for Misgovernance
Neelesh Misra, Rahul Pandita
Hachette; Rs 495; Pp 350

The challenge by naxalites in a third of the country (affecting 231 out of 636 districts) is India’s biggest internal security threat today. Does the Maoist movement shape popular resistance to the state’s power or does the movement use people’s struggles to bid for state power? Scholarly and activist accounts reflect two points of view. One view sees Maoists as being neither peasants nor workers nor tribals (Dilip Simeon), but who claim to represent their interests. Alternatively, the movement is seen as a rebellion of the people who are striving to save their land, forests, water and minerals from being grabbed and establish a people’s democratic state under the leadership of the proletariat(Gautam Navlakha). Led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist)—which was banned under the UAPA Act in June 2009—the armed insurgency has become a key challenge for the Indian state.

Neelesh Misra and Rahul Pandita’s The Absent State: Insurgency as an Excuse for Misgovernance has the virtue of reflecting both points of view by providing us with a rich, multi-layered perspective on the Naxal insurgency (comprising the bulk of the book). They tell a story of misgovernance, of an absent state, of the loss of perspective (where it is easy to be labeled a traitor or a terrorist), of security personnel fighting an impossible battle for their own survival, and of fading hopes for local democracy. Their style —which is highly readable and accessible to an uninformed audience—effectively high- lights a Roshomon-like picture of the insurgency—the state’s view, the Naxal cadre’s view, and the villager’s view—and the complex relationship between the absent state, the growing power of the insurgents, and the impact on the everyday lives of the citizens in those areas.

Full review here Financial Express

A sixer at sixty

In a world where expert speak is more respected than experience, Shobhaa De has redefined the way one looks at those past their ‘sale-by-date’. Shobhaa at Sixty, her latest book is a rap on the knuckles for the bratty Sonam Kapoor types, who have called the enigmatic writer a ‘60-something porn writer’ and a ‘fossil’. More radiant than ever before, Shobhaa debunks the myth that age is the enemy of female fame. With her slicing wit and innate panache she embraces both the realities and the supreme highs of being an incredible brand at 60.

Her being has inspired writers to spur their personalities into action. Shobhaa uses her vivacity as a sensational marketing tool. Unlike the stereotypical image of a novelist hunching over a wooden table, inking their way through reams of paper, her effervescence increases a few notches as shutterbugs and admirers flock to bask in her aura. Sashaying in her signature designs and striking jewellery, she has relegated ageists to the attics of antiquity.

Side-stepping all the criticism about her saucy writing, Shobhaa has been instrumental in reinventing sexual satire, giving it the verve and fascinating twist that is needed to rope in the culture vultures too.

Full report here Deccan Chronicle

Literary project to highlight Tagore's love affair with China

China's love affair with Rabindranath Tagore will be the theme of an Indo-Chinese literary collaboration which will see contributors of the likes of Amartya Sen among others.

The publication of the book on Tagore will be the first of a series of works to come out following an agreement between Sage Publications India and Central Compilation and Translation Press, China.

The two parties had signed a pact to publish Indian management books in Chinese and original scholarly works by Chinese scholars into English.

As the first step of this agreement, Sage India will publish in English the book on Tagore, which will have both Indian and Chinese contributors, says Sage India, MD-CEO Vivek Mehra.

"The first write-up is an original essay by Amartya Sen," Mehra said.

Full report here Times of India 

Indians, Pakistanis are different people: Pak author

Dismissing the `concept' that Indians and Pakistanis were `long lost brothers,' Pakistani author Mohammad Haneef today said he felt that the peoples in the two countries were very different. "I hear this mantra--that Indians and Pakistanis are brothers--off and on. But I feel that we are very different people," Haneef said while speaking about his first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes at the Kovalam literary festival that concluded today.

"We (India and Pakistan) might have had a shared history. But the way we interpreted the history is different," he said.

Haneef said one-fifth of Pakistan was now reeling under floods. "A mosque is blown up every day. Do you think Pakistanis are sitting there thinking about India? They don't have the time and mental space for that," he said, adding in a lighter vein, "get used to their indifference."

He said though many restrictions were there in Pakistan, there were no curbs on writing.

Later participating in a debate on the topic `Indo-Pak: Is there a way ahead,' Haneef felt that militaries in both the countries were killing their own people. "We do have some nuts among us. Similar people are on your side also. I don't know if there is a way forward," he said.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Military cooperation can transform India-Pak ties: Tharoor

Military collaboration could transform the relationship between India and Pakistan, former minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor said at the Kovalam Literary Festival in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. "When 26/11 happened, there was a spasm of hope after the president and prime minister of India announced that the director general of ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) would fly to India to cooperate in the investigation. But the information was leaked (in the form of a press statement from the Pakistan PM's house). Had that (the visit) happened, it would have led to serious cooperation," said Tharoor, a former minister of state for external affairs.

"Military cooperation could indeed transform the relationship between India and Pakistan," Tharoor told a packed house at the Kanakakunnu Palace.

He was participating in a debate, "Indo-Pak: Is There A Way Ahead", featuring a panel comprising Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif, writer Deborah Baker-Ghosh and veteran journalist Satish Jacob. The debate was anchored by BBC journalist Amit Baruah.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Betwixt & between

Part bildungsroman and part manifesto, The Truth About Me is, fittingly, a book that does not fit fully into either category.

The Truth About Me: A Hijra
Life Story; A Revathi
Penguin; Rs. 299
Revathi, born Doraisamy in a small village in Tamil Nadu, journeys through incredible violence in multiple cities to arrive at Sangama, a sexual minorities human rights organisation in Bengaluru. She has had a sex-change operation, danced for a living, done sex work, done no work at all, and finally alighted on activism to find a way out of the vicious cycle of deprivation and ostracism to which the hijras are prey. Moving from a tale of personal woe to a defence of civil rights, this book covers a lot of ground about the make-up of hijra communities in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Mumbai and, finally, Bengaluru, where the author now lives. It also charts a movement from particular grievance to universal rights in which the plight of the hijras is turned into the plight of all women and then into the lot of all sexual minorities. The Truth About Me grows, in other words, from being parochial to cosmopolitan, always engaging pathos in order to get its point across.

When not engaged with the larger horrors to which hijras are heir, however, this pathos can seem overwhelming and repetitive. True to the conventions of a bildungsroman, the narrative of Revathi’s life story follows a repeated pattern of arriving at a place, settling in, and then running away because of unmet needs or unsatisfied ambitions. But more often than not, these frustrations are seen as personal setbacks rather than as systemic injustices. Self-pity threatens to drown out analytical judgment for at least two-thirds of the book. But perhaps that is the point? Without seeing the horrifying consequences of being a hijra, would we be able to get behind the necessity for justice that those horrors demand? Perhaps not, but the sheer repetitiveness of sentences like “I don’t have the strength to bear the blow upon blow that keeps falling on me” (297) do detract from the sense that this book is also an activist’s multifaceted manifesto.

Full review here Deccan Chronicle

Kurup, new young poets bring Malayalam poetry centre-stage

Poetry is making a comeback to the mainstream Malayali literature with more youngsters writing, reading and appreciating poetry.

The conferring of the Jnanpith award, one of the highest literary honours, upon veteran Kerala-based poet O.N.V Kurup has come as a shot in the arm for the genre across the state - with new poets emerging from their literary cloisters, writers said.

'At a time when poetry was thought to be dying, the Kovalam Literary Festival has honoured the genre by inviting a poet to chair the inaugural session,' Kurup said, addressing the inaugural ceremony of the festival here Saturday, Oct 2.

He urged organisers of literary festivals in the state - especially the Kovalam Literary Festival - to 'focus on the poet who sings of the paradise and the pandemonium'. Poetry should come out of the 'hot house' to make its power of healing felt, he added.

Kurup quoted poet Emily Dickenson to illustrate the power of poetry saying: 'If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.'

Full report here Sify

In the voice of a child, she writes

Writer and daughter of prime minister Manmohan Singh, Daman Singh, presents her book The Sacred Grove in a Q&A format, at the Kovalam Literary Fest. “Since no one is willing to share stage with me, I am going to ask questions and answer them myself,” she says.

“Why did I write this book?” is her first question to herself.

“A couple of years ago, I wondered what I should write about, with my first book staying in my shelf, still unpublished. I decided to write about something I felt strongly about. Parenting is one such subject. My son Rohan is at a stage where he was watching me as I was watching him. I didn’t want him to pick up my faults. We all have prejudices. Initially I thought to write in the voice of a parent. But then I decided to write in the voice of a child. So I wrote about 12-year-old Ashwin whose passion is cricket.”

She poses her second question as ‘telling more about Ashwin’. “Ashwin is a boy who does not care much for studies. He sees school as a way to play cricket. He believes everyone exists in the world to please him. He used to take his mother’s word as the gospel truth. But as he begins to watch her closely, he is not sure if he likes what he sees,” says Daman.

Full report here Yentha