With a flood of titles for young adults, desi scribes mutating en masse into authors, and word counts cascading in various domains — crime, spirituality, business, history, biography — DNA gives you the lowdown on what’s coming your way from Indian authors this year.
It is official, 2010 is all booked up. After a year of political kiss-and-tells and romance cooing chapter and verse, bookworms can curl up to new yarns even as nonfiction maintains gravitas with corporate mantras. Those with shorter attention spans, don’t lose the plot; Penguin lines up crispy Metro Reads as Westland does novellas. Reviews will beatify or crucify, every picture won’t tell a story and bad covers will still happen to good books. In the last year of this decade, don’t shush piracy either — just take it as read.
The Indian tongue continues to have its wicked way with the English word. IWE will gain from Westland’s Dreaming In Hindi, Coming Awake In Another Language by Kathleen Russell Rich and HarperCollins’ May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray.
Health buffs will be served Rujuta Diwekar’s diet manual (Westland) with Karen Anand’s Lean Cuisine (HarperCollins) while several cookbooks simmer gently in the Random House pot.
Chetan Bhagat sees “more domestic fiction, and an increased range of genres, particularly teen fiction,” while hoping for “more non-fiction titles to increase our understanding of Indian issues.” Rupa’s Kapish Mehra avers: “The language has to be good and the connect immediate.” He also rues a rising invisibility of the books page, as “high-end literature is not where it used to be.”
Says novelist Shashi Deshpande: “Next year, I expect, will be like any year. But the price rise is something I am very concerned about.” Dronequill’s Jamuna Pani thinks 2010 may well be the year of translations, “as more and more Indians seeking roots in their local culture are nevertheless English-speaking.” Renuka Chatterjee, Westland’s chief editor, sees graphic novels “beginning to come into their own.”
Predicts Hachette’s Thomas Abraham: “2010 looks like being the year of YA (young adults) post-Stephenie Meyer, and a host of similar series are expected to take off. There’s also a discernible shift towards commercial genres where Indian writing is concerned, so we should see a lot more experimental genre fiction…The blockbuster will almost certainly be Shantaram 2.”
Scribes will take their bylines forward. Absolute Khushwant: The Low-Down On Life, Death And Most Things In Between by Khushwant Singh with Humra Quraishi, Arun Shourie’s We Must Have No Price, The Ambanis And The Battle For India by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Alam Srinivas, and First Draft Of History: The Making Of Modern India by BG Verghese.
Shobhaa De gets fictional with Sethji along Farrukh Dhondy’s Adultery And Other Stories, Manu Joseph’s Serious Men, CNN-IBN reporter Amrita Tripathi’s Broken News, NDTV anchor Sunetra Choudhary’s Braking News, Kishwar Desai’s Witness The Night, Binoo John’s The Last Song Of Savio De Souza, and The Tehelka Book Of Stories tagged by a Tarun Tejpal introduction.
January will see Anita Nair’s Lessons In Forgetting (HarperCollins). Says Anita: “Using cyclone as a metaphor, this is the story of two people whose lives and paths cross as they resurrect themselves from total devastation.” Shreekumar Varma describes his upcoming Maria (HarperCollins) as “a novel of love and memory, with a bit of the thriller thrown in
Usha KR says about her new novel Monkey Man (Penguin), “In the first week of the new millennium, four people spot a strange creature on Bangalore’s Ammanugudi Street, and are invited to speak about it on radio. What is it that they see in the gathering darkness? The novel traces their lives and interlinked destinies.”
Rupa has Return To Almora by Nobel laureate RK Pachauri and Victoria And Abdul: The True Story Of The Queen’s Closest Confidante by Shrabani Basu coming up. Dronequill unveils Nazia Mallick’s Meshes And Smoke while Picador presents Aatish Taseer’s The Temple-goers and Siddharth Chowdhury’s Day Scholar, a Man Asian-shortlisted novel.
HarperCollins hawks Devapriya Roy’s The Vague Woman’s Handbook, Diksha Basu’s From Brooklyn To Bandra and Rimi Chatterjee’s Black Light. Hachette peddles Pradeep Sebastian’s The Groaning Shelf And Other Instances Of Book Love, Zac O’Yeah’s Once Upon A Time In Scandinavistan as DBK Thomas takes The Rear Entrance.
Penguin cheers Upamanyu Chatterjee’s Way to Go, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s One Amazing Thing and It Rained All Night by Buddhadeva Bose, a first-person account of an extramarital affair. Westland/Tranquebar tenders Lie, a graphic novel by Gautam Bhatia and Kashmir Blues by Urmilla Deshpande.
Sajita Nair’s She’s A Jolly Good Fellow (Hachette) and Maha Khan Phillips’ Beautiful From This Angle (Penguin) compose chick-lit while Amit Varma pegs his Hotel Patiala as “a psychological novel”. Jahnavi Barua’s Rebirth (Penguin) is the story of a young Assamese woman who moves to Bangalore that “begins at a critical point, a period of stress in the young woman’s marriage.”
Looks like desi whodunits have finally found a clue. Madhulika Liddle, who is working on stories featuring detective Muzaffar Jang of The Englishman’s Cameo, recommends research. “Since my focus is on historical crime fiction, I can’t afford to get my facts wrong. I also spend a lot of time exploring the area I’m writing about on foot.”
Random House and HarperCollins seem to be on the same page where sleuths are concerned; the former with The Imran Series: The House of Fear — Ibn-e-Safi (English), the latter with Ibn-e-Safi: Jasoosi Duniya (Hindi).
Other partners in crime are Manisha Lakhe’s The Betelnut Killers (Random House), Kalpana Swaminathan’s Monochrome Madonna (Penguin), and Smita Jain’s Piggies On The Railway (Westland).
Ramachandra Guha assembles The Makers Of Modern India (Penguin). HarperCollins brings out India Under Siege (Neelesh Mishra and Rahul Pandita). Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense Of Everyday India (Santosh Desai), and Dragon On The Prowl: India’s China Problem (Brahma Chellaney), joined by Penguin’s The Red Elephant: The Story Of India And China (Raghav Bahl).
Shashi Deshpande, who translates Marathi novel Nirgathi by Gauri Deshpande, says: “I have done one translation from Kannada and with this one, I will have translated books from both my languages.”
Picador brings us the Evidence Of Suspicion, which is A Writer’s Report On The War On Terror by Amitava Kumar and Tale Telling by Amit Chaudhuri.
Prerna Bindra heeds Voices In The Wilderness (Rupa) while Vikram Sampath strikes the right note with a book on Gauhar Jaan, India’s first classical musician to record on gramophone: “Gauhar had achieved unprecedented popularity nationally and internationally. But she lost all her wealth and was then sheltered in Mysore where she died in 1930. After innumerable trips to Kolkata, Rampur, Darbhanga, Banaras, Mumbai and other places that Gauhar had lived in, I somehow managed to piece together her story.”
More politicians pick up the pen. Somnath Chatterjee’s Memoirs Of A Parliamentarian (HarperCollins) lines up alongside Penguin candidates APJ Abdul Kalam and YS Rajan’s The Scientific Indian: A Twenty-first Century Guide To The World Around Us, Pavan K Varma’s Becoming Indian: Free India’s Unfinished Revolution, Shashi Tharoor’s India A-Z with illustrations by RK Laxman, Manvendra Singh’s Campaign Diary and Nayantara Sahgal’s Nehru’s Vision And India’s Place in the World.
Rupa’s Encyclopedia Of Hinduism on Sanatana Dharma, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism spans 11 volumes and Arjun Shekhar explores A Flawed God (Hachette). Ganesh Scripture by Alice Albinia and Devdutt Pattanaik’s Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling Of The Mahabharata (Penguin) show the Mahabharata effect while Ashok Banker returns to the scriptures with The Valmiki Syndrome (Random House) and Vengeance of Ravan (Penguin).
Susan Visvanathan says about her book on Ramana Maharashi, The Children of Nature: Sacred Manifestation And Popular Culture In Tiruvannamalai, South India (Roli): “It is about Ramana Maharshi and a history of the ashram, it’s visitors, and my own recovery from multiple sclerosis through meditation and sharing in the community life.”
HarperCollins doubles its divinity dose with Mother Teresa: Something Beautiful For God by Malcolm Muggeridge and Mother Teresa: Faith In The Darkness by Greg Watts. Rohini Gupta’s Mantramala: Mantras To Live By will aid the layperson choose mantras while Mukanda Rao’s In Search Of Shiva is about Bhakti saints Basveshvara, Allama Prabhu and Akka Mahadevi (Dronequill).
Stardust Papers by Omar Qureshi (Random House) sprinkles masala while Biddu gets autobiographical with Made In India (HarperCollins) even as Bhanu Athaiya comes across all sartorial while Dressing The Stars (HarperCollins). Anupama Chopra jots down Bollywood Musings (Penguin), Omkar Sane scripts Coming Soon, The End (Westland) as Meghnad Desai zooms in on Pakeezah (HarperCollins).
Jerry Rao takes stock with Notes From An Indian Conservative (Rupa) as does Kiran Karnik with Coalition Of Competitors: Nasscom And Indian IT (HarperCollins) while Azim Premji prefers Connecting The Dots (Penguin). Vijay Nair warns The Boss Is Not Your Friend (Hachette) while R Gopalakrishnan mulls Why The Penny Drops Only At Fifty (Penguin).
Penguin will drive Nano-vation: How A Little Car Can Teach The World To Think Big by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, Brand Tata by Morgan Witzel, and The TCS Story And Beyond by S Ramadorai, leaving Fabulous: The Story Of Fabindia by Radhika Singh to dress for the occasion.
Amar Chitra Katha editor Reena Puri is gung-ho about tales for tots. “We will release the best stories from Indian history, mythology and literature as also from around the world in comics and picture-books.” Waiting in the wings are Epics & Mythologies Collection, Tinkle collections, and ACK Junior.
Puffin will launch Mission Moon by SK Das with Ruskin Bond’s Mr Oliver’s Diary, Leila Seth’s We The People and Subroto Bagchi’s I Did My MBA At 16 as Monideepa Sahu solves The Riddle Of The Seventh Stone (Young Zubaan).
Samhita Arni, whose Mahabharata: A Child’s View was published when she was 12, sums up: “The problem is that many authors and publishers anticipate parents buying books for children that fit into their notions of what children’s fiction should be. We must be more adventurous.”