fortunes swung from yin to yang, and India's too
of the humble onion overshadow the impact of big-time diplomatic
visits, it is time to worry. And that is how it was for Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh as 2010 winds to a close with corruption
The world of Indian literature acquired a touch of glamour in 2010
with new festivals, accolades on the international turf, the
return of Khushwant Singh and some strong publishing, valued at
$4.5 billion (Rs.200 billion).
If the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2010 drew to India
some of the biggest names in popular literature like Roberto Calasso, Alexander McCall Smith, Louis de Bernieres and Geoff
Dyer, then the country had a brush with literary fame when the
"Hay-on-Wye" festival - the most prestigious literary festival of
Britain, debuted in India in November.
The line-up of writers, though not as sprawling as in Jaipur, was
impressive. The high point of the festival was an interactive
session moderated by Shashi Tharoor, MP, with Bob Geldof, musician
and founder of Live Aid.
Kolkata tuned in to its homegrown literary heavyweights at the
Kolkata Literary Festival presented by Apeejay Group and the
Oxford Bookstore. Mumbai held its own with Literature Live, a
free-entry festival organised by columnist Anil Dharker.
"The year surpassed what we were hoping in terms of the number of
festivals, size of audience, sale of books and enthusiasm among
people to attend literature festivals. It was also good news for
upcoming authors, publishers and book sellers," said Sanjoy Roy,
managing director of Teamworks Ltd, which organises the Jaipur
Literature Festival and the Hay Festival.
"The Hay Festival captured the minds of literature lovers. The
country saw four major literature festivals, including three new
ones," Roy told IANS.
Indian writers made their mark in the global literary arena. Rana
Dasgupta won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for his novel "Solo",
while Raghuram R. Rajan's book "Faultlines" won the Financial
Times-Goldman Sachs award for the best business book of the year.
The Hindu awarded Manu Joseph for his work of fiction, "Serious
Men". Three Indian cookbooks, "Flash in the Pan: What to Cook and
How", "How the Banana Goes to Heaven" and "Hajra's Recipes of
Life, for Life" were cited by Gourmand, the global arbiter on food
writing, as the best cookbooks from India.
The year also saw the return of Indian literary doyen Khushwant
Singh with two books - "Absolute Khushwant", a collection of
ruminations and opinions, and the novel "The Sunset Club". Singh's
spirit triumphed over his failing health at 96 when he signed
books and jested with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife at the
launch of his book.
A curious trend in 2010 was the phenomenal sale of books about
President Barack Obama and those written by him - largely because
of his visit to India in November.
"I think it has been quite a year with very strong books, variety
in publishing and awards as well. The fiction list was stimulating
with the very literary to excellent mass market," V.K. Karthika,
publisher and chief editor of Harper-Collins India, told IANS.
An estimate by the India Trade Promotion Organisation and the
Federation of Indian Publishers noted that the Indian publishing
industry is currently valued at around $4.5 billion (Rs.200
billion). Of this, education and non-education books accounted for
nearly $3 billion (Rs.130 billion).
"The business range grew tremendously as well as the cinema range.
It has been a year of committed publishing," Karthika said.
As for business, the year saw a slew of new titles - both big and
small - as the market bounced back from the slide of the last two
years, showing an upward curve. The book market currently rides on
the strength of 16,000 publishers.
The country publishes some 70,000 titles every year.
Chatterjee can be contacted at email@example.com)