Saturday, March 6, 2010

India Abroad award for Sonny Mehta

The India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2009 was presented to Jhumpa Lahiri's publisher Ajai Singh 'Sonny' Mehta, a titan in the world of books and the publisher and editor-in-chief of Alfred A Knopf. Fittingly, writer Suketu Mehta - whose book on Mumbai, Maximum City, was edited by Sonny Mehta - and actress and legendary food writer Madhur Jaffrey presented the award to Mehta, whose wife writer Gita Mehta, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's elder sister, was present.

In his moving speech, Sonny Mehta noted, "I could not have become a publisher if I had not been raised and educated in India. India gave me my love of books and my obsession with reading. When we were young reading was our most important form of recreation. But when I see the proliferation of bookshops, book fairs, and literary festivals in India today, and when I read the extraordinary work coming from the sub-continent every year, I am reassured that books are as important to Indians now as they were in the past, and I am confident that the future of the book is safe."

The litany of successful authors and the battery of bestsellers in Mehta's career are legendary. So, in Mehta's case, when it came time for a congratulatory message, there was no dearth of options. Still, the crowd was positively amazed when, via a video address, former US President Bill Clinton congratulated India Abroad on 40 years of publishing and congratulated Sonny Mehta, who published Clinton's bestselling memoir, My Life, and all the other winners.

Full report here rediff

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