Sunday, August 27, 2006
a downpour of books
we have seen exceptionally heavy rains this year in many parts of our country.just like the rains,there has been a heavy downpour of books in the english language too. at this rate, our english books publication must be surpassing the records of other countries including the uk.not only do we produce books in quantity,many of them turn out to be international best-sellers.english book publishing has become a major industry. for many years s had worked for a famous publishing company about two decades ago. and i know how difficult it was to sell english books by indian authors then.
i am a lover of books.both fiction and nonfiction.i also like books on religion and philosophy.anything that stimulates me physically,mentally and spiritually. but i am finding it difficult to keep pace with the new arrivals these days. after jaswant singh's book it is the turn of another bjpite to come out with yet another book.i wonder whether it is some sort of a record. i am referring to arun shourie's latest book. it is his 23rd book. natwar singh says that he is writing a tell-all book.he has threatened to reveal all about the volcker saga.why the indian government acted on a report that was sent to the trashcan in other parts of the world. arjun singh says that his book is work-in-progress. and atalji will be penning his memoirs as pm in which the main masala is likely to be the agra summit and the behind-the scenes goingons.
the other day sushmita sen inaugurated a book launch. and she said she too was writing a book. a very frank one.just like her.given her eventful life,her book looks set to pack a punch.no hard feelings for any of her so many ex boyfriends. bollywood and books have come together.an intellectual phase in the reel life of people? not only are they being written about,they write and also love to participate in book launches. sanjay khan read excerpts the other day from the 'dargah of nizamuddin auliya' by laxmi dhaul at crossword in juhu .sushmita did a bookreading too at the crossword,kemp's corner. the reading was from a book called 'what would you do to save the world' by ira trivedi who participated and failed to win the contest in a beauty pageant in 2004. the book allows you to spend 25 days behind the making of a phoney,air-headed beauty queeen. sheena sippy,daughter of ramesh sippy,the film producer, has written a book alongwith naman ramachandran(text) and divya thakur(design) titled 'lights camera masala'. it was launched at the new metro adlabs by boman irani and abhishek bacchan who spiced up the book launch with some humourous repartee.the book is about two fictitious characters who endeavour to make a typical hindi commercial bollywood film of their own. samira reddy and anu malik were also there to sing and dance.
a book launch before a book-release has now become de rigeur.it is the latest marketing gimmick. and preparations for this once the manuscript is ready, is like making elaborate preparations for a wedding in the family. a proper sponsor has also to be found.the key is to have a celeb as the chief guest.mani bhaumik's 'code name god' was to be released by sanjay dutt who didn't turn up. kiran nagarkar's book 'god's little soldier' had aamir khan's presence. according to chetan bhagat of 'a night @ a callcentre' fame,the author doesn't have much of a say in these matters.call centres are setting the creative juices flowing.neelesh mishra is now penning his debut novel,'once upon a time-zone'.he has chosen neel pandey a call center employee as his main protagonist.mishra's book will be released in october. ananda mukherjee's 'and where,my friend lay you hiding' had shyam benegal. vikram seth didn't require any props for the launch of 'two lives'. british council presented 'the spy princess' by shabani basu.'londonstani' by gautam malkani and 'blood brothers' by m.j.akbar have also hit the stands.
ashok banker of 'ramayana' fame says that he is just fed up with all this.he has told his publishers no more book launching."my readers will buy the book for what is inside the covers". he can probably afford to say that because he takes millions of dollars in advance even before he starts working on the manuscript.
a frail dusky woman from a mofussil town in west bengal recently made it to the best seller list.her book 'aalo andhari'(light and darkness) has been published in bengali and was released by famous bangladeshi writer taslima nasreen.her book was translated into english by urvashi butalia called 'a life less ordinary'. baby haldar was a school dropout at age 12,married off to a senior citizen at age 13 and had her first child at age 14.she worked for professor probodh kumar,grandson of hindi literary luminary munshi premchand who impressed with the care with which she dusted his books,gave her a bunch of papers and a pen and asked her to write.from there baby's literary voyage took off.
there are not only books and books bombarding us but there is a book recently released that weighs a ton and can break your bones if you are unlucky to drop it. it is the 'sacred games',a gripping new crime novel, by vikram chandra(he now lives in the us). a mammoth 1225 pages. that took him six years to complete. a million dollar advance surely helped the master of the game. and poor guy. after writing an epic tale of the mumbai underworld he is being pushed by the publishers. he is travelling endlessly to promote the book. the book is being translated into german,dutch,french and korean and regional languages as well. it is supposed to be too post- modern. that's what the author says. i don't know what he means. he is supposed to be good at writing software for computer games.he sees an intriguing connection between literature and programming.they are supposed to have "patterns that are cathartic in their own way". i hope vikram's book is simple to read and not as complicated as he makes it out tobe. he explains the dynamics of mafia functioning in mumbai and the corporate structure that it has adopted as opposed to the familial one that we see abroad. it is basically the story of a 'hawaldar' who tries to solve the mystery left behind by a mafioso who kills himself. accoring to chandra, in the years to come,crime organizations will be technically very advanced and financially strong.they will be the greatest threat.his earlier works 'red earth and pouring rain' and 'love and longing in bombay' were well received. he was also the co-author for the script of the film 'mission kashmir'.
at the other end of the spectrum, we have rakeysh om prakash sharma,director of blockbuster 'rang de basanti' taking up the cause of slumdwellers in new delhi who have been forcibly evacuated without any rehabilitation.'yamuna gently weeps' was recently released.it documents the demolition of 40,000 jhuggis or jhopadpattis in the yamuna pushta region.he is critical of the government .written by ruzbeh bharucha,son-in-law of kiran bedi the fiery police officer,young ruzbeh is an active social worker and writer. the book talks about a thriving migrant community of over 2 lakh jhuggi dwellers whose aspirations have been grounded by the government machinery with the help of the judiciary. mehra warned that one in every three persons in the country will be a migrant slum dweller in the next thirty years.frightening to say the least.
this downpour of books is most welcome.it soothes the parched mind like what the rains do to the soil.