Tag Archives: Aleph Book Co

The Week in Literature and Translation [Jan 16-22, 2015]


  • The North East Review has posted a bunch of new content for their Oct-Dec 2014 issue: G Brahmachari’s poem ‘Northern Summer‘, Rini Barman’s essay ‘Akash Banti‘ and Rumpa Das’ story, ‘Durga, Apu and the Train
  • Lizzie Jacob, who is the former Chief Secretary of Kerala, is also a translator, and will be publishing a Malayalam translation of Tagore’s (Bengali) poems.
  • Lots of news coverage for the Murty Classical Library, which was launched this past week in Delhi – Economic Times, The Hindu, Times HE (UK), Deccan Herald, Times of India, The New Indian Express,
  • Javier Moro’s unauthorised biography of Congress politician Sonia Gandhi was released amidst claims that the Congress tried to suppress the book (Reuters, NYT, Livemint). The book appears to be on Archive.org as well.
  • Munsif M Rajendran’s fictionalised history of six generations of women in his family has been released.
  • N Kalyan Raman has posted translations in English of two poems by Tamil writer Salma
  • Anita Agnihotri’s short story collection ’17’ is new to Kindle this week, available here
  • A list of 13 Indian authors whose works entered the public domain in 2015.


Columns and Articles

  • Ruth Vanita on the history of queer literature in India, and particularly, pre-colonial Lucknow
  • Nilanjana Roy’s lists: Books she enjoyed in 2014, and books to look forward to in 2015.
  • Sudeep Sen’s list of poetry books to look out for in 2015
  • Shamik Bag on the evolution of the Bengali detective and Calcutta noir.
  • The history of Higgin Bothams, one of Bengaluru’s oldest bookstores
  • ‘Angaarey’ challenged dominant Muslim narratives, transformed literature, says Raza Naeem in Lahore
  • JN Sinha has a lovely essay in Frontline on the endurance of Saratchandra Chatterjee’s novel, Devdas


  • Sravasti Roy on Janice Pariat’s novel, Seahorse in The Hindu (Two descriptive paragraphs and an author’s quote are apparently what pass for a review these days)
  • Urmi Chanda Vaz reviews Rabisankar Bal’s A Mirrored Life, translatd from Bengali to English by ArunavaSinha
  • Pratik Kanjilal reviews David Davidar’s edited collection of short stories from India
  • Milind Bokil’s Marathi novel, Shala, translated by Vikrant Pande to English is reviewed by Prema Nandakumar
  • Two recent reviews of AK Mehrotra’s Collected Poems (2014) – in Daily Star by Manu Dash, and in Mid-Day by Lindsay Pereira.
  • Rini Barman reviews Maitreyee B Chowdhury’s collection of poetry on Benares for Himal Southasian
  • Tunku Varadarajan’s review essay is a good introduction to the new Murty Classical Library for OPEN
  • Arshia Sattar reviews Anita Anand’s biography of feminist icon Princess Sophia Duleep Singh for OPEN
  • Rajni George reviews Raj Kamal Jha’s novel, She Will Build Him A City for OPEN
  • Shreya Sethuraman has a list of six Indian crime fiction writers to read.  Unfortunately, one’s English, one’s Swedish and one writes non-fiction. Nevertheless.



  • Lisa Hill’s shadow jury for the DSC Prize picked The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, we’re still waiting for the actual jury to announce its choice.
  • Toto Funds the Arts, a trust set up in memoriam of Angirus ‘Toto’ Vellani (who died far too young), announced its annual English and Kannada awards for literature, theatre and music.
  • Mukti Deb Choudhury wins this year’s Leelarai Smriti Puraskar for her translations from Assamese to Bengali and back


  • For GQ, Nidhi Gupta in conversation with Amit Chaudhuri
  • Aatish Taseer talks to Chandrima Das of the Ahmedabad Mirror, about his book, The Way Things Were
  • Indian cartoonist RK Laxman is critically ill, here’s hoping for a quick and complete recovery.
  • A report on a planned biopic of Kannada writer Devanuru Mahadeva
  • Nataraja Huliyar, Kannada critic, says there have been no great women Kannada playwrights because they don’t “approach” Shakespeare.
  • Poet CP Surendran on his new book: Poetry is an inward journey, but a novel moves outward

Publishing and Industry

  • 21 non-official members of Maharashtra’s Urdu Sahitya Sabha were sacked by the new government.
  • Nivedita Padmanabhan talks about Pustaka Portal, and on publishing ebooks for non-English languages in India.
  • In that vein, an article from The Hindu talks about how Indian publishers are shifting their focus to digital publishing.
  • Kapil Isapuri is suing the makers of the film ‘PK’, claiming that they plagiarised his book ‘Farishta’ (Angel)
  • The Kannada Book Authority has sought a Rs. 10 crore grant from the Karnataka State Government for the next year. Good luck to them.
  • The biggest publishing story this week, of course, has been about Ravi Singh, who used to be at Penguin India and later Aleph Book Co. He quit the latter, reportedly, over their decision to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus, after political pressure. He is now setting up his own publishing firm, called ‘Speaking Tiger’.
  • The Perumal Madhavan book ban issue has gone to court. Let’s hope for a positive outcome!
  • OUP editor Mini Krishnan talks about why she publishes translations
  • Rupa Publications announced a new business imprint, Maven.
  • Another one of those digital-publishing-is-killing-print-publishing-stories. This time, for Hindi fiction.


The Fortnight in Literature and Translation [Dec 26 2014 – Jan 8, 2014]


  • There were a couple of books to look out for in 2015 lists – DNA, Jaya Bhattacharji for Deccan Chronicle,
  • K Jayakumar has written a new commentary ‘Apaarathayodu Anuraagapoorvam’ on Tagore’s Gitanjali, in Malayalam (Mathrubhumi Books)
  • Two Assamese books translated to Malayalam: Pranab Kumar Barman’s poetry translated into Bengali by Sudipa Bhattacharjee as Pagli Brishti Porche, Dekho Dekho  and Pankaj Kumar Dutta’s short story collection translated by Bidhisha Ghose as Fugu Macher Galpo.
  • There is (justifiably) much excitement over the upcoming Murty Classical Library, which will be publishing five new translations from India’s classical canon, from five languages! Reports from the Economic Times, The Telegraph,
  • Bidyasagar Narzary, Sahitya Akademi award winner, has released a new novel in Bodo: Malotini Dao Moina
  • Assamese journalist and writer Saurav Kumar Chaliha’s translations and non-fiction have been digitised
  • Out of Print‘s December issue is out: stories by Manju Kak, Altaf Tyrewala, more
  • Kindle magazine’s special issue on Bangladesh is out.
  • Chenthil Nathan’s Tamil translation of Manto’s story, Toba Tek Singh
  • I’m thrilled to learn that Ruswa’s The Madness of Waiting is being translated to English by Krupa Shandilya, Taimoor Shahid for Zubaan Books


  • I don’t understand the point of articles like this: in ET, a plaintive complaint: “Will anyone start an Indian Year of Books?” Dear author, why don’t you?
  • Poet Tishani Doshi reviews Manohar Shetty’s collection of poems, Living Room.
  •  Rohini Nair says Aatish Taseer’s new book is difficult, but ultimately worth it. Vineet Roy, in BusinessLine also reviews.
  • Aishwarya Subramaniam reviews two recent YA lit novels from India.
  • Vaishna Roy reviews Somnath Batyabal’s racy new new cop thriller
  • SB Pisharoty reviews Indrani Raimedhi’s book, My Half of the Sky, which chronicles the life journey of 12 women from the North East.
  • Arunava Sinha asks, why isn’t translation the big story of Indian publishing?
  • Anthony Cummins reviews Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Gold Leaves
  • Karan Deep Singh, on how memories of WWII have endured in Indian folk songs
  • How technology is helping the visually-impaired access libraries at Delhi University
  • Vikrant Pande on the funniest Marathi writer of all time, Pu La Deshpande
  • Kuldeep Kumar on how Shrilal Shukla’s Raag Darbari endures
  • Asif Farrukhi in Dawn on the year in Urdu novels
  • Sufi Showkat reviews a new volume of protest poetry from Arabic, English, Kashmiri, Persian and Urdu
  • Dr GP Sharma argues that ’Syed Abdul Malik’s contribution to Assamese literature matches that of Lakshminath Bezbarua
  • Aswathy Karnaver reviews two debut collections of poetry (in English) from India, by A M Sivakrishna and Rahul Sharma



  • Odia poet Soubhagya Kumar Mishra wins the Gangadhar National Award for poetry.
  • After all the durm und strang, the Kannada Sahitya Sammelan had a tepid turnout.
  • Hirendra Nath Dutta has been chosen for the 25th Assam Valley Literary Award for the year 2014
  • Maithili scholar Ravindra Nath Thakur wins the PrabodhSahityaSamman
  • Dr. T.G. Prabhashankar “Premi” gets an honorary doctorate from the Vikramshila Hindi Vidyapeet in Bhagalpur, Bihar
  • Padma awardee Laltluangliana Khiangte on the need for a ‘literary awakening’


  • Telugu playwright and dialogue writer Ganesh Patro passed away. He was 69 and was being treated for cancer.
  • Translator Arunava Sinha on why he translates and another column on the dearth of translations from India
  • Hindi poet Nand Chaturvedi passed away. He was 91.
  • Urdu writer Shamsur Rahman Faruqi on writing, the literature he loves, and Sufism: a nice interview
  • Supreme Court judge Justice Dipak Misra, at a writers’ conference made the terrifying claim that “should be universally acceptable”
  • Pakistani writer Intizar Husain makes a broad claim for writers: “as extremists do not read literature or our stories, we are safe”
  • Ashok Srinivasan talks about his Book of Common Signs, and finally getting published.
  • Contemporary Malayalam poet Atoor Ravi Varma on his poetry, music and translation.
  • Slightly blunt obituary for Academician and thinker Hardiljit Singh Sidhu (Lali Baba)
  • Konkani poet JB Moraes passes away at 82


  • Literary journal Asian Cha has a poetry contest, ‘The Other Side’ (deadline: Feb 15)
  • David Davidar of Aleph Book Co on the challenges that Indian publishers face in the future.
  • Perumal Murugan’s book, One Part Woman has been facing boycotts and censorship attempts by the Hindu right – here’s an article from PEN, an excerpt in Scroll, a report in Indian Express.
  • Indian publishers on the trends in 2014
  • Tagore’s short story, ‘Postmaster’ to be made into a film


  • A report on a two-day symposium on medieval bhakti literature in Odia held in Jan.
  • Shrabonti Bagchi has a survivor’s guide to Indian litfests. Leave before Bollywood arrives
  • An update on the Guwahati Lit Fest
  • 200 years of Ghalib, and his hometown, Agra, forgot him.
  • At the Amta Book Fair 2014, Bengali books did well
  • Celebrations for the 87th birth anniversary of Nepali poet Agam Singh Giri

The Week in Literature and Translation [October 2nd to 8th, 2014]

New Books, Publications and Translations

Arun Ferreira plans to write a memoir about his experiences in jail and it will be published by Aleph. He also recommends these six books about Indian prisons. The list includes a translation of Varavara Rao’s Telugu diaries, and Iftikhar Gilani’s Urdu translation of My Days in Prison.

K.M. Balasubramaniam, a founding member of the Dravidian Self-Respect movement and an associate of EV Ramaswamy Periyar, was also a translator. 46 years ago, he translated Manickavachakar’s Thiruvachagam and Thiruvalluvar’s Tirukural from Tamil to English. His translation of Thiruvallavar will be released again this year.

Arunava Sinha has posted a translation of chapter 1 of Samim Ahmad’s Bengali novel, The Seventh Heaven.

Naga writer J Longkumer has published a book of poetry titled “Gift in the Poet: Earth Poetry”.

A new issue of Out of Print magazine is out. It includes a translation of Shrilal Shukla’s short story ‘Among the Hunters’ by Daisy Rockwell.

A new issue of the Indian Quarterly is out. It includes an excerpt from Janice Pariat‘s new book, Seahorse.

Actor Naseeruddin Shah’s autobiography, And Then One Day, is getting a lot of press.

Blaft Publications has reissued a translation of ‘The Palace of Kottaipuram’, a short story by Indra Soundar Rajan.

Outlook has published an excerpt from Pramod Kapoor’s new book on Gandhi.

The taxing work of untranslating a translation: this is fascinating. A “translation slam” works with Akhil Sharma’s writing at the Writers of India Festival in Paris.

ST Yapang Lkr has released a novel in Ao, titled “Kü Mulung Naro Tsüki”

Columns, Reviews, Articles

Prasenjit Chowdhury in Hindustan Times writes about how English can be the ambassador for bhasa literature in India.

David Davidar in Hindustan Times writes about the stories that the middle class (English speaking?) Indian can access.

Somak Ghoshal reviews Saurav Mohapatra’s latest comic book, ‘Way Of The Warrior: The Legend of Abhimanyu’.(English)

Sumana Mukherjee reviews two new Delhi novels: Avtar Singh’s Necropolis and Saskya Jain’s Fire under Ash (both in English)

Nilanjana Roy interviews Neel Mukherjee, they talk about his novel, The Lives of Others, which is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Trisha Gupta writes about Vishal Bhardwaj’s films and the portraya of Shakespeare’s women, in them.

Zafar Anjum in Kitaab on the rise of literary journals in Asia.

Saudamini Jain writes about the forthcoming new translation of Kalidasa’s (Sanskrit) works, by Mani Rao, from Aleph.

Actor, writer and poet Vibha Rani speaks with SS Ghosh on the future of Maithili literature.

EPW is carrying an article by Srinivasan Burra on the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus following pressure from right wing extremists. Ajay Skaria has also weighed in, examining provisions of the Indian Penal Code that allow the banning of books on the grounds of ‘hurt’ religious sentiments.

News: Awards, Events, People, Publishers

At the Goa Lit Fest, there was a lively discussion on the privileging of English over other Indian languages.

A large collection of rare books on the erstwhile Maharaja Ranjit Singh were auctioned by Chiswick in London.

The Utkal Literature Festival will celebrate, amongst other things, writing in Odia, and translations from Odia to English and other languages. [10th and 11th October, Bhubaneswar]

This new website, Rockstand, plans to sell more ebooks in Indian languages. There’s quite a few already, check it out. They’re available for phones/tablets only for now.

The Navjivan Trust also plans to make available all of Gandhi’s works as ebooks.

Julie Sam writes about a new literature festival in India that will celebrate popular fiction.

Granta Mag is accepting submissions for its special India issue until April 1, next year.

Rajni George discusses the challenges faced by family-owned publishers in India today, in OPEN.

In a pleasant and unusual move, Union HRD Minister acknowledged the work of an author from one of the NE states, and called for chairs in honour of Lakshminath Bezbarua, the Assamese writer and translator.

Saeed Naqvi calls for more accessible spoken Hindi , as opposed to formal and Sanskritised language.

English department of the Government College, Mananthavady, is organising a national seminar on ‘Dalit Literature, Identity, Gender and Culture’ at the college auditorium at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday

Toto Funds the Arts had an “After Shakespeare” event in Bangalore.  They’ve extended the deadline on applications for their 2015 awards to October 21.

Cutting Tea Tales is an interesting initiative from Bangalore, aimed at getting storybooks to underprivileged children.

Javed Akhtar, poet and lyricist, will be presenting a new TV pack (program) via TATA Sky, on Urdu poetry.

Federation of Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Associations in India wants online booksellers to stop granting discounts.

The Shakti Bhatt Prize shortlist, 2014

The shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014, has been released. The winner will be announced in November, 2014 and the award panel consists of Indian authors Amit Chaudhuri, Aatish Taseer and Mridula Koshy.

The Shakti Bhatt Prize was constituted in memory of editor and writer Shakti Bhatt, and consists of a cash award of Rs. 1,00,000. The initial announcement makes it clear that “Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.” (although, as is usual among the English-speaking literati in India, no reasons for this linguistic chauvinism are disclosed). The Prize was first awarded in 2008; on an inital skim through the shortlist, I can’t find a single book in translation that has been nominated.

The shortlist and a quick rundown follows:

  1. A Bad Character by Deepti Kapur (Random House/Penguin) – RH’s blurb describes this novel (written in English) as “A novel about female desire, A Bad Character shows us a Delhi we have not seen in fiction before: a city awash with violence, rage and corruption.” Prashansa Taneja reviewed it in the Guardian, praising it for being frank while regretting that “somewhere along the way it gets tangled in a web of cliches.” Other reviews here: Charlotte Runcie in The Telegraph, Rajvi Glasbrooke-Griffiths in the Wales Art Review, Faiza Khan at her blog, Gargi Gupta in DNA, and Somak Ghoshal in Livemint.
  2. The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer (Random House/HarperCollins) – Bilal Tanweer is a Pakistani writer, a faculty member at the LUMS college. This is again, a novel written in English. Claire Chambers’ review in the Dawn praises ‘glistening fragments’ of the novel while noting that “at times it appears too self-consciously straining to be literary.” Other reviews here: Evan Bartlett in The Independent, Jess Row in the New York Times, Hirsh Sawhney in The Guardian, Omair Ahmed in Time Out Delhi, Paromita Chakrabarti in the Indian Express.
  3. The Vanishing Act by Prawin Adhikari (Rupa) – Prawin Adhikari is a Nepali writer, and this, his debut collection of short stories was written in English and published in India. Thomas Bell’s review in Nepali literary journal La.Lit said it was “the work of a talented writer and a deeply serious and sensitive interrogator of modern Nepal.” The book has been on the longlist for the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Stories. Other reviews here: Melani P Kumar in the Deccan Herald, Sophia Pande in Nepali Times, Carol Andrade in Afternoon Despatch and Courier.
  4. a cool, dark place by Supriya Dravid (Random House India) – This is the only novel on the list that I’ve read, and frankly, I was surprised to see it here. Anita Roy was absolutely right when she wrote for Tehelka that the author tends to overwrite, and “uses five metaphors where one would do.” The book, nevertheless, has been on the longlist for the Tata Literature Live First Novel award. You can read an extract via IBNlive or Wall Street Journal India. Other reviews: Akhila Krishnamurthy in The Hindu, Vivek Tejuja in The New Indian Express, Parvati Sharma in the Hindustan Times.
  5. The Competent Authority by Shovon Chaudhury (Aleph Book Co) – This, in my view, is probably the strongest contender on  the list, with nearly uniformly good reviews. A sharp, satirical novel about Indian bureaucracy. Reviews: Jaya Bhattacharji Rose in The Hindu, Somak Ghoshal in LiveMint, Deepanjana Pal in First Post, Ajachi Chakrabarti in Tehelka.
  6. The Smoke is Rising by Mahesh Rao (Daunt Books and Random House India) – An interview with the author in Open Road Review (by Kulpreet Yadav) reveals that he began with the question of “what Malgudi would look like today” (an ambitious path, undoubtedly). Asawari Ghatage gave it a reasonably positive review in Time Out Delhi, but Somak Ghoshal at Livemint was more cautious, saying that it “remains a novel full of promise waiting to be seized, a failing that is not unusual with first novels.”

The Week in Literature and Translation [18-25th September 2014]

New Books, Publications and Translations

Ghaus Siwani has published a set of Urdu translations of Persian poetry, Do Atisha (‘The Cocktail’). He leaves out Ghalib and Iqbal, but brings in a number of lesser-known poets, including Hafiz Shirazi, Urfi Shirazi, Sa’eb Tabrezi and Abdul Qadir Bedil.

The Kannada literature journal, Aniketana, is back. It used to be published by the Kannada Sahitya Akademi till about six years back, when it was discontinued. A new issue, with the theme, ‘Rural Consciousness in Kannada literature’ is out. The editors have also promised to bring out compilations to cover the six years when the journal was not in publication.

The Hindustani Academy, based in Allahabad, has begun to re-publish rare pre-Independence books in Hindi and Urdu. They’ve begun with a tract on Raja Bhog, by ‘Sameer’ (Ramagya Dwivedi), and will follow it up with ‘Awadh Kosh’ (1934) and ‘Prayag Pradeep’ (1937). The latter, by Shaligram Srivastava is a history of Awadh, and the former, a socio-geographical study of the region.

Mid-Day has published a fascinating account of ‘Dor Mhoineachi Rotti’ (Our Daily Bread), a Konkani journal for Jesuits that has been published since it was founded in 1915.

Sathya Saran has a new biography out (in Hindi) on the life of composer SD Burman, titled ‘Sun Mere Bandhu Re’ (Listen, my brother).

Poet and lyricist Gulzar has published a biography of Urdu poet Ghalib.

Amitav Ghosh has published, on his blog, his introduction to Vedica Kant’s book on India and WWI – ‘If I Die Here, Who Will Remember Me?’

Bengali translator Arunava Sinha often posts short English translations of Bengali fiction and poetry on his blog. If you’re not on the mailing list ,sign up at once!

Columns, Reviews and Criticism

Zac O’Yeah writes in Livemint on the rise in true crime accounts in India.

Jabeen Akhtar writes in the LARB on South Asian literature, and pandering to Western audiences. It met this comment:

Mahmood Awan on reading English translations of work by Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan.

Dr Malini Goswami of Gauhati University spoke at an event on the continuing relevance of Ramayani literature, in Assam.

Poet and blogger Sridala Swami has a new column at The Daily O, titled ‘The Sideways Door’, which will focus on poetry. Let’s hope it means more Indian, and translated poetry, too.

Rohit Chopra at Scroll says more Indians are writing in English, and in a narrower range of sentiment and voice.

In Outlook, Smita Tewari Jassal reviews Navtej Sarna’s travelogue, ‘Indians at Herod’s Gate’ (in English).

Vikhar Ahmad Sayeed has a lovely obituary for UR Ananthamurthy, the Kannada writer who passed away recently, in Frontline.

Kuldeep Kumar reviews Rakshanda Jalil’s biography of Urdu writer Rashid Jahan.

Sunanda K Datta-Ray reviews David Omissi’s collection of WWI letters from Indian soldiers, many of which were translated from Urdu.

News: Awards, Events, Publishing, People

The Akkiraju Ramaiah Pantulua Award, for literature in Telugu, has been given to Chadlavada Lakshmi Narasimha Rao. The event also saw the release of a book of Telugu poetry by Dr.Akkiraju Sundara Ramakrishna.

The biggest prize for Punjabi literature, the Dhahan Award, has gone to Canada-based writer, Avtar Singh Billing for his  novel Khali Khoohaan di Katha (The Tale of Empty Wells).

Malayalam novelist C V Balakrishnan will receive the Padmaprabha literary award for his contributions to literature.

Hindi novelist Govind Mishra will receive the ‘Saraswati Samman’ award for his novel, ‘Dhool Paudhon Par’ (Dust on the Branches).

The World Sanskrit Conference will be hosted in Uttarakhand tomorrow (26th September 2014). 400 Indian Sanskrit scholars will be attending.

Arunima Mazumdar reports in Livemint on a new series of lectures in Delhi on Urdu writing, hosted by Rakshanda Jalil.

The University of Western Sydney has announced a program that will bring together First Nations (?)/Aboriginal writing from Australia and bhasha/Dalit literature from India.

In Bangalore, on September 28, there will be a performance of music and reading in honour of poet Amir Khusrau.

Nayyar Jahan Siddiqui, who wrote a seminal study of Urdu poetry Ahmad Faraz, will receive a posthumous honorary doctorate from Nagpur University.

SAARC plans to set up a massive digital library for literature from SAARC countries.

In Hyderabad, a troupe has been performing protest poetry in Hindi, by poet Sudama Panday Dhoomil.

Outlook’s gossip blog, Bibliofile, reports that Ravi Singh of Aleph Book Company will team up with FEEL Books to bring out a new imprint that may be called Flying Tiger (or Speaking Tiger). There aren’t any details on what this imprint will publish.

Marathi poet Shankar Vaidya passed away following an illness.

Playwright Girish Karnad is in court, following allegations of plagiarism by author Gopala Vajpayee. Apparently Karnad used a song written by Vajpayee in one of his plays, and failed to attribute or credit it.

The third edition of the Bangalore Lit Fest will begin next week. The sessions on Kannada literature look rather interesting.