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‘The Book Hunters of Katpadi’ review: A Madras and a Chennai novel

Opens up the magic casement to the land of book adventures

While bibliomysteries, or adventures centred on books and the surrounding world, are quite common in the West — Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón has recently quite popularised the genre — in India, they are still a rarity. With The Book Hunters of Katpadi, Pradeep Sebastian opens up the magic casement to this forlorn land.

Of course, it needs a bit of specialisation to know that a battered copy found in a second-hand bookshop or a book leaf perforated by silverfish can be worth a fortune or a murder or two (there is no murder in Book Hunters though).

But anyone who has been following Sebastian’s column, ‘A Typophile’s Notes’, in these pages of Literary Review would be familiar with the significance of rare print editions, bookmaking, book collecting, antiquarian book dealing, and so on. Book Hunters also explains these topics at length, preparing the ground for more bibliomysteries to follow in the future.

Lost world

Fittingly, this book about books is a lovely object in itself, with its quaint pen-and-ink illustrations, silk-ribbon page-marker and dust jacket in black, green, gold and white. For many book lovers, it will bring back a lost world of gilt-edged hardbacks found in shadowy library nooks or grandparents’ damp-decorated bookcases.

Book Hunters resurrects a bygone era not just in its form but also in its content. While being set in contemporary Chennai, it invites you to imagine, via the bibliomysteries it sets out to solve, the Madras and Ooty of yore when sahibs and memsahibs walked the streets.

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Book Review: Three Days of Catharsis by Atrayee Bhattacharya

By Manisha Lakhe

three-days-of-catharsis-front-coverThere is only one thing wrong with the book Three Days of Catharsis by Atrayee Bhattacharya — there is no editing at all. By the author or by the publisher. Everything else collapses around this one fault.

It’s 2017, and there’s no point whining about a life lived between different cities across the world: Singapore, Kolkata and Chennai. The obsession that Indian authors have about balancing culture and upbringing across borders should be celebrated. Instead, this book is a 241-page-long whine about how “no one understands me” and how difficult it is being a TamBong (a Tamilian and a Bengali) who lives abroad. If only the protagonist/author (it is autobiographical) had cared to read multi-cultural authors like Jhumpa Lahiri (one passing mention) and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni instead of Chetan Bhagat (his Two States is mentioned as a mirror to her own life)! Had someone, like a reliable editor, asked the author to put this book away as the first draft of an idea, it would have helped.

Alas, everything that happens in the book is banal. Let’s list the events:

Kutu goes to IIM Kolkata to submit her admission papers. Gets into an argument with the office clerk and the admin officer Gurunathan about what her mother tongue is. If such an innocuous question becomes an existential debate that lasts for 12 pages for the protagonist, then you’d want the argument to have more logic than just froth. How does she expect an office clerk and the admissions officer to know all about every student? Gurunathan explains that it is his job to make students feel at home. He tells her in Tamil, because her name is “Krishnan”, not because he wishes to insult her “Bengali” part.

She then misunderstands her grandmother’s concern about being out and about alone, and asks the grandma if she’s becoming a burden.

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India: Chennai Literary Festival kick-started on Monday

The fourth edition of the Chennai Literary Festival kick-started on Monday at the University of Madras, Students. It will have 18 workshops and 22 competitions over three days.

Remembering an incident from last year when a student tearfully thanked the organisers for the cash prize since it would help him pay the fees, Latha Rajan, chairperson, Chennai Literary Festival, said that cash prizes would be awarded for all competitions this year too. “When we started the festival four years ago, only around 15 colleges took part. Now we have more than 30 colleges, even from Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, taking part,” she added.

The programme has workshops on an array of topics ranging from Dalit and tribal literature to animation and cyber security. The workshops will be conducted simultaneously in 18 different colleges in the city. A range of competitions from dubsmash to book reviews and debate will be held. Read more

Source: New Indian Express

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India: The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards 2017 will be announced on January 16, 2017 during The Hindu Lit for life

The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards is for children’s books published in India. It was introduced to promote excellence in children’s writing and illustration. The award aims to acknowledge innovative publishing trends, and recognise children’s literature as an independent and important field.

This is the second year the award will be given and the winners will be felicitated at The Hindu Lit for Life festival which will take place in Chennai on January 14, 15 and 16. This year, the awards will be given in two categories — Best Author and Best Illustrator. Each award will carry a cash prize of Rs. 50,000, a trophy and a citation. Read more

Source: The Hindu

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The ‘Surprising Poignancy Of Narendra Modi’s Poetry’…and the fine art of selling dhoklas and theplas: S Anand

Neutrality is the most vulgar political position, especially when the most bigoted partisans are calling the shots and you want to play along, and even host them, writes S Anand in this open letter to Prakriti Foundation, Chennai

“Since I have known you personally, and since you have supported Navayana’s work earlier, I thought I should keep an open mind and talk to you. Did you really see merit in this book? And that’s why I called you. I just wanted to ask you why you were doing this.  I am sure you had thought this through, but I still wanted to hear you out. Your defence shocked me more. You said, this was just a “marketing tactic” and you said you were doing this so that more people come to your Amdavadi Snack House in Chennai, and eat your dhoklas and theplas. “If Modi’s poetry will bring them in, so be it.” I could not believe this. I felt angry and even betrayed. Continue reading

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Books, tea and discussing gay literature in Chennai

The body of queer literature in the country is a slow-growing one, with new anthologies, novels, poetry, biographies, graphic works and academic treatises building it up every year. It’s a body nourished, naturally, by a growing readership for such literature. And wherebooks and readers exist, there’s bound to be a book club.

In Chennai, such a club goes by the name Orinam’s Quilt, a reference to Ismat Chugtai’s 1941 short story ‘Lihaaf’ (The Quilt), as well as a portmanteau of the term Queer Literature.

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Workshop: The Duckbill Workshop, Chennai

Duckbill, in association with the Book Building, is happy to announce the next in their series of workshops on writing for children.

Location: Tara Books Book Building
Plot No. 9, CGE Colony
Off Kuppam Beach Road
Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai 600 041
Phone no: +91 44 42601033
Landmark: Thiruvanmiyur Fish Market

Duration: Friday, August 9 to Sunday, August 11 2013, 9.00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m

Number of participants: Maximum 20

Conducted by: Anushka Ravishankar

Assisted by: Sayoni Basu

Scope of the Workshop: Fiction for children; the target ages can be anything between 7 and 14 years. We are not, therefore, working with picture books or YA books. The workshop is structured to give an overview of contemporary children’s literature, genres and trends, and an understanding of the craft of writing for children. The goal is to enable each participant to explore the kind of stories that they want to tell. The participants have the option of submitting a synopsis and/or a few chapters of a book they want to write. We will give one-on-one feedback on each submission.

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