Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mountain Echoes: Bhutan’s literary festival

‘Hopping a freight out of Los Angeles at high noon one day in late September 1955 I got on a gondola and lay down my duffel bag under my head and my knees crossed and contemplated the clouds as we rolled north to Santa Barbara.’

This isn’t the right description of how I ended up staring out of a window of Hotel Namgay Heritage in Thimpu for  hours last week. My journey into the great wide open as part of a group of writers, journos, publishers, filmmakers and general riff raff (read: non-venture capitalists) was less ‘beat’ than the aforequoted journeyman’s. But Jack Kerouac’s opening lines from The Dharma Bums retrofit perfectly with my state of being as I contemplated the clouds that rolled in to cover the hilltops above me for four days.

The May 20-23 Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in the Bhutanese capital was a deep-bowled noodle soup of writers talking about their craft, experts sharing their fears and excitements about the future of reading, and audiences being given a guided tour of the world that lies behind the world wide web of infotainment of which books are only one (shrinking?) vehicle.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Friday, May 20, 2011

New book from Ruskin Bond

Novelist Ruskin Bond, who celebrated his 77th birthday on Thursday, gifted his fans a brand new collection of stories about one of his most endearing characters – the eccentric, bumbling Uncle Ken.

Crazy Times with Uncle Ken includes old classics as well as new stories, a statement by Penguin-India said. A Puffin imprint, the book is priced at Rs 199.

Uncle Ken is one of those people who do not do much but a great deal happens around them.

Whenever Uncle Ken arrives at Grandma’s house, which he does often, trouble erupts. Uncle Ken drives his car into a wall, is mistaken for a famous cricketer, troubled by a mischievous ghost, chased by a swarm of bees and attacked by flying foxes.

Be it the numerous bicycle rides with the author or his futile attempts at finding a job, Uncle Ken’s misadventures provide huge doses of laughter.

Born in Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh in 1934, Ruskin Bond grew up in Jamnagar (Gujarat), Dehradun, New Delhi and Simla.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Davidar ties up with Rupa Publications

Noted publisher and writer David Davidar, who last year exited as CEO of Penguin’s international division amid controversy, has tied up with Rupa Publications, India to set up a new literary firm, the Aleph Book Company.

Announcing the partnership in a press statement on Monday, Davidar said: “Each book published by Aleph will be distinctive, original and of outstanding literary quality.” It will be headquartered in the capital.

“Our books will be creatively packaged and innovatively marketed through traditional retail and grant outlet as well as digital and other channels,” the veteran publisher said.

Kapish G. Mehra, managing director of Rupa Publications, said the new publishing partnership with Davidar was a “perfect way to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Rupa as the new company will complement and round out Rupa’s existing publishing”.

“Rupa has an excellent publishing relationship with retailers nationwide. It has seven offices around the country and reaches deep into the market. So every Aleph book and author will have an excellent chance to succeed in the market,” Mehra said.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Books spawned by Osama

Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US forces in Pakistan, was a shadowy figure who spawned a vast booty of books, art and performance acts. A list of some of the books inspired by the ‘badshah’ of terror who masterminded the 9/11 attack:

The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda by Peter L. Bergen
The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda” written by Peter L. Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst is an overview of the war on terror. It explores the persona of the Al Qaeda leader and an intimate understanding of how the organisation works on a day-to-day basis. The book said the Al Qaeda had a growing list of enemies, including the Muslims, who did not agree with their “ultra-fundamentalist” view.

The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century by Steve Coll.
An Arabian Family in the American Century” by Steve Coll. The Pulitzer Prize winning author portrays the 9/11 mastermind as a complex human being and his relationships with his father, Muhammad, who made a fortune in Saudi Arabia as the king’s principal builder; and his older brother Salem, a British-educated, music-loving playboy. Coll suggests bin Laden turned to jihad because of the worsening relationships with the Saudi royal family, his own relatives and anger at America. The US forced Sudan to expel bin Laden from the country where he raised horses and sunflowers on a farm while training jihadis).

Full list here Hindustan Times