Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anita Nair to pen historical fiction

Bangalore-based Anita Nair is to return to familiar territory - a book on Kerala. However this one is going to be set in medieval Kerala, which she says is a fascinating period that people today know little about.

Nair was born in Kerala's Mundakottakurissi, near Shornur. Her links to the state have remained strong even though she grew up in Madras and has lived in Bangalore for the better part of two decades now. Her earlier writings about Kerala include Where The Rain Is Born: Writings About Kerala and Mistress.

Her latest novel, Lessons in Forgetting, has just been released by HarperCollins.

Anita Nair is the best-selling author of  The Better Man, Ladies Coupe and and a collection of literary essays, Goodnight and God Bless. Mistress was longlisted for the 2008 Orange Prize in the UK. It was also a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award in the USA and for the LiBeraturpreis 2007 in Germany. Anita's books have been translated into twenty-nine languages around the world.

'Talking Pen' launched at World Book Fair

India's first 'Talking Pen-Multimedia Print Reader (MPR)' was launched in Delhi by Aadarsh Pvt Ltd, one of the leading printing and publishing houses in Central India, at the World Book Fair, reports UNI.

It is a unique concept where the pen recites the written text. When the MPR pen is positioned over a book with MPR codes, it activates the pre-loaded audio files, so a reader is also able to hear the text they are reading.

This education tool will also cater to the special needs of the visually challenged population and people suffering from various levels of Dyslexia. It will also help in empowering volunteers responsible for public service education or vocational training with technological proficiency.

Full report here

Ipad leaves India in two minds

The iPad, Apple’s new touch-screen tablet computer, is expected to reach the India by late summer this year, industry experts say. Apple said international pricing and worldwide availability would be announced later. However, analysts are expecting it to cost above Rs 25,000.

In India, it will be the non-3G version that comes as high-speed wireless data services are not available in the country now.

Unvieled in San Francisco on Wednesday by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, comes in two versions - one with Wi-Fi and the other with both Wi-Fi and 3G (wireless) capability.
Related articles:
'iPad may have little impact in India'
Mid-year hope for iPad in India
Lay your hands on the iPad in India by April

Children's publishing looking up

Time was when children’s books by Indian authors would be preachy, condescending and badly produced. Not any more, DNA finds that Indian authors and publishers are at long last coming out with books that combine innovative Indian content and international appeal.

Oh ye, readers of old, who looked no further than Enid Blytons and Nancy Drews for literary sustenance, eat your heart out. The new generation of children have those and much more. For in the past decade, more and more books by Indian authors are finding their way to prominence in book stores, libraries and imaginations of readers. What’s more, these are books with innovative content and high production standards.

In essence, we are at the threshold of a new era in children’s publishing — one in which we are finally evolving our very own contemporary literature for kids. Says Anita Roy, editorial head, Young Zubaan, “Children in India are growing up in a fast-changing world, and are exposed to a vast range of different media. Indian authors are responding by writing new, exciting and imaginative narratives in contemporary idioms to capture the interest and imaginations of their audience.”

Full report here

Noted Polish scholar on Tamil literature dies

Joanna Kusio, a noted Polish scholar on Tamil language and literature, was found dead in her apartment, reports IANS. She was 49 and single.

Her relatives found her dead when they opened her apartment last week. She was suffering from a heart ailment for the past few months and it seems she died following cardiac arrest.

She was working as a teacher of Tamil language and literature for the past 30 years at Warsaw University.

Joanna, whose friends called her Asha, was a role model for her dedication to Tamil language and literature. Her love for Tamil took her to Chennai where she spent three years to get well-versed not only with the language and literature but also with Dravidian culture and art. She had the honour of sharing classes in the early 1980s with noted Tamil writer Indira Parthasarathy when he was a visiting professor to the Oriental Institute of Warsaw University.

"With her sudden death, Poland has lost a noble soul who had embodied the Tamilian spirit in her way of life and thinking. It is a great loss for Warsaw University where students feel let down at the hands of destiny. Had she lived longer she could have conquered many more frontiers. Teachers like Kusio are born once in a few decades," Anna Bem, a Polish Indophile, told IANS.

Kusio was one of the pioneers who had opted to study Tamil in the late 1970s and spent her whole life in promoting, teaching and doing research on Tamil language. She helped to maintain the tradition of teaching oriental languages in Eastern Europe.

Warsaw University, where she worked, is the only institution where the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) regularly funds a visiting professor in Tamil.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

World Book Fair inaugurated by Sibal

The 19th World Book Fair was inaugurated by Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development at Pragati Maidan in Delhi on Saturday.

Around 1200 Indian and foreign publishers and exhibitors are participating in the fair, which is spread over an area of 42,000 square meters and showcases books on various subjects.

In a message, President Pratibha Patil said: "Books are storehouses of human knowledge and it is important that books from all disciplines be made available to readers in the country." Sibal added, "Human civilisation and books compliment each other and books play an important part in carrying the civilisation further and ensuring cultural unity in a pluralistic country like India."

Related news
World Book Fair rides on sports
Book fair likely to be annual event

India to get its own e-reader soon, Ahmedabad, Gujarat based online shopping portal is launching the India’s first 6 inch e Ink Vizplex e-reader in market. Pi will be available at introductory pre-Order price tag of Rs. 9999 with booking amount of Rs 999, according to Indian Tech News.

The main feature of this e-book reader, P1 is that it supports Hindi, Sanskrit and most official Indian languages as well as PDF, EPUB, HTML, TXT, MOBI, DOC text formats, JPG, BMP, PNG image formats and MP3 audio format. “A technological marvel with state-of-the-art features, Pi will provide exceptional reading experience and support for local Indian languages,” an statement said.

The e-Reader is less than 10mm thick. It is light too, at 180 grams only. It has internal storage capacity of 512 MB and can store up to 500 e-books. For more space, it has expandable slot by which user can expand Pi storage up to 4GB. It is powered by S3C2440 processor and 64 MB RAM. It has a battery life of four days or 10,000 refreshes.

Pi owners will have the choice of downloading over 1,00,000 digital books from, which the company plans to increase over a period of time. The device also gives users the option to upload their own content from a PC or any other device through a USB device. “ is also in advanced talks with a number of newspaper publications to provide subscription-based access to a large number of newspaper content,” the statement said.

Features of Pi e-book reader:
Turn page forward/backward.
Jump to a specific page.
Progress bar to display position in the book.
Increase font size and reflow text automatically.
Add bookmark to a page.
Screen Rotate for landscape / portrait views.
Search inside a book or document.
Sort documents (Date, filename, Catalog).
Game Play by Function Key and Navigation for Soduku.
3 mm Audio Earphone Connector.
SD Card Slot.
Micro USB Slot.

Pi will be available around the country on February 22 and will come with a warranty of one year.

Indian authors, publishers take Google to court

Google has caught Indian authors and publishers on the wrong foot, according to a report in the Business Line.

According to the report, some Indian publishers and authors are up in arms against Google Book Settlement (GBS 2.0) for what it calls a blatant violation of Indian and international copyright laws.Google Book Search Project allows books to be made available on the Web. Over seven million books have been scanned by Google. Google Book Settlement allows authors and other copyright holders of out-of-print books to submit a claim to participate in settlements.

Indian authors and publishers, including Star Publications, Abhinav Publications, Daya Publication House and Pustak Mahal along with the Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation and Federation of Indian Publishers, have approached the New York District Court. Mr Siddharth Arya, legal counsel for IRRO, said: “The Google Book Settlement is contrary to every international treaty that governs copyright laws. Google's unilateral conduct is a brazen attempt to turn copyright law on its head, by usurping the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.”

More on the report here

Kolkata book fair continues to attract controversy, attention

Kolkata may be full of book lovers, but it has not prevented its favourite annual book fair to be controversy free.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had slammed city environmentalists on Monday for protesting against the book fair and forcing the fair venue to be shifted from its traditional Maidan to Milan Mela grounds. “It is very unfortunate that there are voices in the city against the Kolkata Book Fair. They have all the right to fight for the environment but they do not have the right to be up in arms against the book fair. In 2008, the fair could not be organised because of them. Our future generations will judge who benefited from it,” said Bhattacharjee, while speaking at the inaugural function of the Kolkata Book Fair.

Referring to the 1997 fire that almost forced the Kolkata Book fair to call curtains, the CM said: “That was an accident, but I cannot accept city environmentalists raise their voice against the book fair.” The Publishers and Booksellers Guild, the organiser of the fair, paid Rs 37 lakh to the Milon Mela authorities though the latter had demanded Rs 62 lakh as rental charges.

Dim lights
A significant section was yet to get electricity. This included foreign stalls from Sweden, Spain and Mongolia. Many fans left the fair in a huff. “Many stalls are dark, while several others are unfinished. The billing counters are not working and card payments not being accepted. Why has the guild been allowed to open the fair without basic facilities?” demanded a book lover.

Even as the Indian book world has gradually shifted its centre to Delhi, Kolkata and its fair have failed to keep with the times. About150 stalls out of 650 are still without electricity, even as some frustrated stall owners confronted officials of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, organisers of the fair.

The biggest attraction this year is the expected launch of firebrand politician Mamata Banerjee's book, Nandi-Ma. The book, is expected to present her side of the story around the Nandigram killings on March 14, 2007 and the consequent movement that had the intelligentsia questioning the Bengal government's policy on land acquisition to set up a chemical hub at Nandigram in East Midnapore. It is being published by Dey's Publishing, which has already published 22 of Mamata's works, including the Trinamool supremo's first book, Upalabdhi, and the one before this, Ma Mati Manush.

The Kolkata Book Fair is on from January 27 to February 7, 2010. This is the 34th edition of the fair. The theme country this year is Mexico and the fair was inaugurated by Mexican author Jorge Volpi.

World Book Fair begins in Delhi today

The World Book Fair starts in Delhi's Pragati Maidan on Saturday and will go on till February 7. The theme this year is books on sports in the backdrop of Commonwealth Games 2010.

Several publishers from India and abroad will take part in the fair including those from Pakistan but the National Book Foundation of Pakistan has decided to skip it.A prominent absentee is Pakistan’s state-run National Book Foundation. “The National Book Foundation of Pakistan has informed us that they will be unable to participate in the fair”, Nuzhat Hassan, National Book Trust (NBT) Director said. The NBT organises the book fair. Asked about the reasons for NBF’s withdrawal, Hassan said she was unaware of it.

NBT Chairman Bipin Chandra said, "This is our 19th book fair and by now it is well known not only in the country but around the world.” 22 countries, including Singapore, Japan, US, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are participating in this fair.

This year the theme of the book fair is ‘Reading our Commonwealth: An International Rights Exhibition of Books on Sports’ on the occasion of XIX Commonwealth Games 2010. 700 titles published by around 75 publishers across the country on different genres of sports are to be exhibited at the theme pavilion.

A special exhibit of books on and by Jawaharlal Nehru will also take place in this year’s fair.

VENUE : Hall Nos.1 to 14, Pragati Maidan, Mathura Road, New Delhi (India)
DURATION : From 30 January to 7 February 2010
TIME : Daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two tales of a capital city

Forget the Commonwealth Games. They will pass. Our national capital – occupied, abandoned, rebuilt over centuries – will remain and this may be the right week to 'celebrate' Delhi, considering it has just got its own logo and a theme song that exhorts every resident to sing from a heart that beats in time with their restless city.

These two books spin the brand new theme song, "Dilli meri jaan, dilli meri shaan", in two ways. Mala Dayal's anthology consists of 11 essays on various aspects of Delhi – how it was built; how it was planted; the food that sustains it; its lingo; sufi shrines and music. It has academic rigour and folksiness enough for a 360-degree view of a city that is rapidly – despite the Games – metamorphosing into a great megapolis of a mighty emerging power. But Supriya Sahai's black and white sketches of life as seen on Delhi's roads, completes the somewhat seminar-like feel of the other.

Khushwant Singh's account "My father, the builder" kicks off Celebrating Delhi. Anyone who bought the book for just this one essay might be justly pleased. It is a simple and heartfelt story told by a man who disarmingly confesses at the outset that he has "done no research on the building of New Delhi" from "barren waste". But Singh, of course, has "lived" the building of the new capital of the Raj, internalizing the travails of converting "brick kilns" into a stately imperial seat of government. "My memory goes back to the time when there was no city but a lot of brick kilns," he writes, recounting the miniature train that ran from Badarpur "up to what is now Connaught brought sand, gravel, stones and other building material and deposited them at different grandparents, parents and my elder brother and I lived in a large shack. My earliest recollection is of being woken up by the deafening roar of the 'ara' machines cutting stones with iron saws into different sizes, and the tick, tick, tick of masons chiselling stones into patterns..."

Full review here TOI Crest