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Charlie and Lola creator Lauren Child named children’s laureate

The much loved author and illustrator will succeed Chris Riddell as a national champion of books for youngsters

‘I learned a lot from television’ … Lauren Child.
‘I learned a lot from television’ … Lauren Child. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Lauren Child, the author-illustrator of the much loved Charlie and Lola books, has been named the new Waterstones children’s laureate, succeeding fellow author and illustrator Chris Riddell to the two-year post.

In the lead-up to the announcement of her appointment on Wednesday, Child took the opportunity to criticise the pressure on parents to oversee all of their children’s time.

“I will be talking a lot about the need for children to be allowed to be creative, without being micromanaged and directed,” said Child, whose work also includes the Clarice Bean picture books and Ruby Redfort novels.

Adding that she believed children needed to be allowed the “freedom to discover”, Child said she had been inspired by feedback from readers. “One of the questions I get asked most by children is where do I get my ideas from – as if there’s a sort of place where you find ideas or it’s a talent,” she said.

A multiple award-winning writer and artist, Child criticised the burden on parents to fill their children’s lives with activities “as if you aren’t a good parent if you are not signing your child up to all sorts of activities or taking them to galleries”.

“The pressure on parents to keep filling their children with information and experiences is too much,” she added. “Being bored is how you create things.”

The new laureate began writing and illustrating books while working as an artist’s assistant to Damien Hirst. Her first books, I Want a Pet and Clarice Bean, That’s Me were both published in 1999. The Clarice Bean series has since gone on to sell 6m copies worldwide.

Lola in the Charlie and Lola books.
Lola in the Charlie and Lola books. Illustration: Lauren Child/Hachette Childrens

Most famous for the Charlie and Lola books – the first of which won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000 – Child said that much of her own inspiration came from periods of boredom as a child. “My parents were like Charlie and Lola’s, where they were around, maybe in the garden or the next room, but not constantly interacting with us,” she said. “I remember hours and hours messing about with my sisters or sat in my own room making things.” The TV series that sprang from the books, on which Child is an associate producer, has since gone on to win Baftas and airs in more than 34 countries.

Speaking from Hull, the 2017 City of Culture, where she was presented with her medal by outgoing laureate Chris Riddell on Wednesday, Child said she hoped to work with artists as well as writers and illustrators during her time in office. “I would love to talk to other artists whose work I admire,” she explained. “I think it is important for children to know we have our influences and get inspiration from all around us.”

Child poverty will also be at the forefront of Child’s laureateship, and she added her voice to those critical of plans to scrap free dinners for primary schoolchildren. “Children can’t learn if they are hungry,” said the author, who has worked with Unesco on its Education of Children in Need programme. “How can we expect them to take on all this information when they are going without anything to eat?”

Also on her agenda over the next two years will be raising the profile of the artistry involved in children’s book illustration. “There is this misconception that illustrators are constantly thinking about children and what they want or what’s commercial, but that is not true. Most illustrators are doing it because they need to create and love illustrating,” she said.

The 51-year-old is the 10th writer to take the children’s laureateship, a role that originated in a conversation between the then poet laureate Ted Hughes and children’s writer Michael Morpurgo. As well as the medal, the recipient also receives £15,000 bursary.

Asked if Damien Hirst would figure in her plans, Child said it was too early to say, but added that the attitude of the renowned British artist, once the most prominent provocateur of the Young British Artists, had been an inspiration. “He wanted to employ people who wanted to do something else, who had a vision of what they wanted to create,” she said. “He was not precious about his work; he was very generous.”

One area that Child will not criticise will be children’s viewing habits. TV, she said, was neither good nor bad, and credited watching the box as a child for giving her the confidence to read. “My sister was a bookworm, but though I was a reader, it was not with that speediness that gives you confidence to choose books yourself.” Watching adaptations of books by E Nesbit and others, helped her find books with stories she would enjoy, she added. “I learned a lot from television,” she said. “I learned all about storytelling and writing dialogue, and some of those shows I watched drove me to books because I loved the adaptations.”

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Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize 2013 for “The Luminaries”

Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand.

She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she also held an adjunct professorship, and an MA in fiction writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her debut novel The Rehearsal (2008) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. It has since been published in 17 territories and 12 languages.

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields.  On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes.  A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk.  Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.

Courtesy: http://www.themanbookerprize.com

CATTON, Eleanor (1985 – ) was born in Canada and raised in Canterbury. In 2007, she won the Sunday Star-Times short story competition, and in the same year she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, winning the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for her manuscript, The Rehearsal.
Eleanor Catton won the audience award at Once Upon a Deadline, a one-day story contest in the 2008 NZ International Arts Festival Writers and Readers Week, and she was awarded the 2008 Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary. Catton was the recipient of the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship through which she attended the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has been published in a range of journals, and magazines, including Turbine, Sport and Granta.
Her first novel, The Rehearsal was published in 2008 by Victoria University Press, and by Granta (UK) in 2009. The Rehearsal received the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at the 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Louise O’Brien described Catton in NZ Listener as ‘a new talent who has arrived fully formed, with an accomplished, confident and mature voice’.
In June 2009, The Rehearsal won the UK Society of Authors’ Betty Trask Award worth £8,000. The Rehearsal was also long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. The Rehearsal has also been translated and published in Holland, France, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Spain, Germany, Israel and Brazil.
Justine Jordan wrote in The Guardian, ‘This astonishing debut novel from young New Zealander Eleanor Catton is a cause for surprise and celebration: smart, playful and self-possessed, it has the glitter and mystery of the true literary original. Though its impulses and methods can only be called experimental, the prose is so arresting, the storytelling so seductive, that wherever the book falls open it’s near-impossible to put down.’

Melissa Katsoulis of the The Times comments, ‘Timeframes overlap and collide in this ingenious ontological kaleidoscope of a debut, but the experimentalism — which demands that the reader keep all her wits about her — is tempered by a real knack for narrative and a cast of painfully familiar teenage characters who are all desperate to be as confident, cool, charismatic and funny as possible. These are qualities that the extraordinary Eleanor Catton has in spades.’
Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal was long-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010, honouring female authors in the English language. It also won the Amazon.ca First Novel award 2011.
She was a 2010 Arts Foundation New Generation Award recipient. Catton was awarded the 2012 University of Auckland Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre.


Eleanor Catton’s second novel The Luminaries was published by Victoria University Press and Granta in 2013, and won the prestigious 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Courtesy: http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz

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Khyrunnisa A.

Khyrunnisa.A
The person

English literature has always been her first love; mathematics came next. That is why, in spite of all the pressures on her to take up a ‘safer’ career option, she stuck to her love and chose the road less taken. And she has no regrets.
Khyrunnisa’s family, comprising her parents and seven siblings, settled down in Trivandrum, for her father believed that Trivandrum was the best place to provide the children with good education. Khyrunnisa did her schooling in Holy Angels Convent, undergraduate studies in All Saints College and postgraduate as well as M Phil. in University College, Trivandrum.
She vividly recalls her love for reading books from childhood – Richmal Crompton, Jerome K Jerome, Angela Brazil, Enid Blyton being some of her favourites then. “At home, everyone loved books. We even used to fight for them,”she says with a laugh.
All the reading helped her master the language, and English was, naturally, her favourite subject in school. It was Sister Elfrieda, her teacher in English and Mathematics in Holy Angels, who encouraged Khyrunnisa and nurtured her taste for books.
“Teachers influenced me a lot,” says Khyrunnisa.

It was yet another teacher, Sister Amata, the then Principal of All Saints College, who advised her to take up a course she liked rather than opt for the popular medicine or engineering courses. “You have to take responsibility when you decide to do something of your choice. Face the challenges and prove that you were right,” said the Principal to a young Khyrunnisa.
She eventually did this, getting the third rank for BA English Literature in Kerala University.

Another teacher who influenced her and fostered her love for the subject was Leela Subramoni, the Head of the English Dept at All Saints.
After completing her post graduation, Khyrunnisa went back to Holy Angels and later, to All Saints, to teach English, a job she enjoyed very much. Later on, she joined the Punjab National Bank as a Management Trainee. During her training, she travelled all over India – Chennai, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Delhi and Nazafgarh, being some of the places where she worked. However, rather than taking up a permanent job with PNB, she rejoined All Saints and has been with them since 1982. “I love teaching and I love my students. I guess I share a rapport with them,” she adds.

Her writing

Khyrunnisa had never considered being a full fledged writer, though she used to take part in various writing competitions in school and college, thanks to her teachers. She has won many prizes and has written stories that were read out on AIR. But those were forgotten as years passed by and she grew busier with her teaching and her family.

“I spent most of my free time with my son. I used to make up stories for him as it was quite difficult to make him eat his food otherwise. Characters like Bluebottle, the policeman; Tommy, the fireman; Smiley and Minna, just popped out of nowhere doing all sorts of crazy things.”

One such creation of hers, Butterfingers, made it big when she won the second prize in Tinkle’s story writing competition for adults in 1996.

The turning point was when Prabha Nair, an Assistant Editor with Tinkle then, came down searching for her to let her know how well they all liked the story – ‘Butterfingers’ – and to see if the writer was “as bubbly as her story itself”.

Author Profile: Khyrunnisa A

Encouragement from Prabha got her to write several more prize winning short stories for the children’s magazine. During this time, Khyrunnisa was also writing a regular column on classics for the Indian Express and occasional articles for the Hindu, Outlook Traveller, Kerala Calling and other publications. Her stories continued to appear in Tinkle and some of her stories were published by Children’s Book Trust in anthologies. Unisun Publications brought out a volume of her prize winning stories.

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It was finally in 2006 that her pet character Butterfingers got his break, when Luis Fernandes, the Editor of Tinkle, asked her to create a regular character for their magazine. She was introduced to Abhijeet Kini, a young illustrator, who gave form to Butterfingers, just the way she wanted it (apart from the auburn hair which she requested be made black). And together they gave India one of its most loved comic characters.

What she loves most about Butterfingers

“He is just another boy – adorable, clumsy, funny and nothing extraordinary. He is a character anyone could relate to, which makes him endearing to most of us.”
She gets her ideas for Butterfingers’ clumsy acts from daily life – be it her husband’s fall in the bathroom or her mistaking a plastic centipede for a real one. Any tiny bit can inspire her to make a plot around it and give it a humorous twist.
“Weaving a story for children is not easy. It needs clarity, should be interesting and it must capture and keep their attention. I don’t like talking down to people and my stories aren’t the preachy type. I just want children to be happy when they read my stories,” says she.

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She also takes care to avoid any active evil, and when accused of being idealistic she says, “What’s wrong with being idealistic in books? I think reading should give joy and as long as my books do that, I’m happy.”

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She loves children, especially young boys, for being the carefree and fun-loving selves they are, unlike grown-ups who forget to be genuine and are more often superficial. Humour is another thing one would find in abundance in the author’s writings. Though she has done a few serious pieces for adult readers, most prefer her light-hearted stories.

Her favourite reads?

PG Wodehouse, Bill Bryson, Rohinton Mistry and Marquez among others. Aravind Adiga’s ‘White Tiger’ was something else that she enjoyed reading. She read it because she wanted to know if all the criticism it attracted was warranted, and ended up liking the book.

Plans for the future?

“I want to write more Butterfingers novels and other stories, settle down here and get things published,” says the author with a childlike enthusiasm and joy.

Article by Shradha S

shradha.s@yentha.com

Courtesy: http://www.yentha.com

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Khyrunnisa A., the author of Butterfingers Series at KV Pattom on 14th Feb 2013

https://i0.wp.com/www.penguinbooksindia.com/sites/default/files/author/author_picture/Khyrunnisa.A.jpg

Khyrunnisa A.

Khyrunnisa A., a prize-winning author of children’s fiction, created the popular comic character Butterfingers for the children’s magazine, Tinkle. Her Butterfingers stories are a regular feature of that magazine. Her first children’s novel, Howzzat Butterfingers!, was published by Puffin in 2010. Her stories appear regularly in Tinkle, Dimdima and other children’s magazines and she freelances for other publications too. A book of short stories, Lost in Ooty and Other Adventure Stories, was published by Unisun Publications in 2010. Some of her other stories have been published in various anthologies by Puffin, Children’s Book Trust and Unisun Publications.
She worked as Associate Professor of English at All Saints’ College, Trivandrum, and is now a full-time writer. You can reach her at khyrubutter@yahoo.com.

(Courtesy: http://www.penguinbooksindia.com )

Ms Khyrunnisa will interact with the students of Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom on 14th February at 10.30 a.m. in the Library, as part of the “Meet the Author” programme to be organized by the Reader’s Club.

Author Khyrunnisa A. Photo: S. Gopakumar

Read an interview with Ms khyrunnisa A., here.

Howzzat Butterfingers! Goal, Butterfingers!

Review on ‘Howzzat Butter Fingers”

Review on Goal Butterfingers

Amar Vijaykumar (second from left) and his friends at the lauch of the book Goal Butterfingers in Thiruvananthapuram

Amar Vijaykumar (second from left) and his friends at the lauch of the book Goal Butterfingers in Thiruvananthapuram

Read the full story here

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Mo Yan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

 

Mo Yan (a pseudonym for Guan Moye) was born in 1955 and grew up in Gaomi in Shandong province in north-eastern China. His parents were farmers. As a twelve-year-old during the Cultural Revolution he left school to work, first in agriculture, later in a factory. In 1976 he joined the People’s Liberation Army and during this time began to study literature and write. His first short story was published in a literary journal in 1981. His breakthrough came a few years later with the novella Touming de hong luobo (1986, published in French as Le radis de cristal 1993).

In his writing Mo Yan draws on his youthful experiences and on settings in the province of his birth. This is apparent in his novel Hong gaoliang jiazu (1987, in English Red Sorghum 1993). The book consists of five stories that unfold and interweave in Gaomi in several turbulent decades in the 20th century, with depictions of bandit culture, the Japanese occupation and the harsh conditions endured by poor farm workers. Red Sorghum was successfully filmed in 1987, directed by Zhang Yimou. The novel Tiantang suantai zhi ge (1988, in English The Garlic Ballads 1995) and his satirical Jiuguo (1992, in English The Republic of Wine 2000) have been judged subversive because of their sharp criticism of contemporary Chinese society.

Fengru feitun (1996, in English Big Breasts and Wide Hips 2004) is a broad historical fresco portraying 20th-century China through the microcosm of a single family. The novel Shengsi pilao (2006, in English Life and Death are Wearing Me Out 2008) uses black humour to describe everyday life and the violent transmogrifications in the young People’s Republic, while Tanxiangxing (2004, to be published in English as Sandalwood Death 2013) is a story of human cruelty in the crumbling Empire. Mo Yan’s latest novel Wa (2009, in French Grenouilles 2011) illuminates the consequences of China’s imposition of a single-child policy.

Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition. In addition to his novels, Mo Yan has published many short stories and essays on various topics, and despite his social criticism is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors.

A selection of major works in Chinese

Touming de hong luobo, 1986

Hong gaoliang jiazu, 1987

Baozha, 1988

Tiantang suantai zhi ge, 1988

Huanle shisan zhang, 1989

Shisan bu, 1989

Jiuguo, 1992

Shicao jiazu, 1993

Dao shen piao, 1995

Fengru feitun, 1996

Hong shulin, 1999

Shifu yuelai yue youmo, 2000

Tanxiangxing, 2001

Cangbao tu, 2003

Sishiyi pao, 2003

Shengsi pilao, 2006

Wa, 2009

Works in English

Explosions and Other Stories / edited by Janice Wickeri. – Hong Kong : Research Centre for Translations, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1991

Red Sorghum : a Novel of China / translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. – New York : Viking, 1993. – Translation of Hong gaoliang jiazu

The Garlic Ballads : a Novel / translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. – New York : Viking, 1995. – Translation of Tiantang suantai zhi ge

The Republic of Wine / translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. – New York : Arcade Pub., 2000. – Translation of Jiuguo

Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh / translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. – New York : Arcade Pub., 2001. – Translation of Shifu yuelai yue youmo

Big Breasts and Wide Hips : a Novel / translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. – New York : Arcade Pub., 2004. – Translation of Fengru feitun

Life and Death are Wearing Me Out : a Novel / translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt. – New York : Arcade Pub., 2008. – Translation of Shengsi pilao

Change / translated by Howard Goldblatt. – London : Seagull, 2010. – Translation of Bian

Pow / translated by Howard Goldblatt. – London : Seagull, 2013

Sandalwood Death / translated by Howard Goldblatt. – Norman : Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2013. – Translation of Tanxiangxing

Selected Stories by Mo Yan / translated by Howard Goldblatt. – Hong Kong : The Chinese University Press,
20-?. – (Announced but not yet published)

Works in French

Le clan du sorgho : roman / traduit du chinois par Pascale Guinot et Sylvie Gentil avec la collaboration de Wei Xiaoping. – Arles : Actes sud, 1990. – Traduction de : Hong gaoliang jiazu

La mélopée de l’ail paradisiaque : roman / traduit du chinois par Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Éd. Messidor, 1990. – Traduction de : Tiantang suantai zhi ge

Le chantier : roman / traduit du chinois par Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Scandéditions, 1993 ; Paris : Seuil, 2007. – Traduction de : Zhulu

Le radis de cristal : récits / traduit du chinois par Pascale Wei-Guinot et Wei Xiaoping. – Arles : Picquier, 1993. – Traduction de : Touming de hong luobo ; Quishui

Les treize pas / traduit du chinois par Sylvie Gentil. – Paris : Seuil, 1995. – Traduction de : Shisan bu

Le pays de l’alcool / traduit du chinois par Noël et Liliane Dutrait. – Paris : Seuil, 2000. – Traduction de : Jiuguo

Beaux seins, belles fesses : les enfants de la famille Shangguan : roman / traduit du chinois par Noël et Liliane Dutrait. – Paris : Seuil, 2004. – Traduction de : Fengru feitun

La carte au trésor : récit / traduit du chinois par Antoine Ferragne. – Arles : Picquier, 2004. – Traduction de : Cangbao tu

Enfant de fer : nouvelles / traduit du chinois par Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Seuil, 2004

Explosion / traduit du chinois par Camille Loivier ; préf. de Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Éd. Caractères, 2004. – Paris : Éd. Caractères, 2004. – Traduction de : Baozha

Le maître a de plus en plus d’humour : roman / traduit du chinois par Noël Dutrait. – Paris : Seuil, 2005. – Traduction de : Shifu yuelai yue youmo

Le supplice du santal : roman / traduit du chinois par Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Seuil, 2006. – Traduction de : Tanxiangxing

La joie : roman / traduit du chinois par Marie Laureillard. – Arles : Picquier, 2007. – Traduction de : Huanle shisan zhang

Quarante et un coups de canon / traduit du chinois par Noël et Liliane Dutrait. – Paris : Seuil, 2008. – Traduction de : Sishiyi pao

La dure loi du karma : roman / traduit du chinois par Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Seuil, 2009. – Traduction de : Shengsi pilao

Grenouilles / traduit du chinois par Chantal Chen-Andro. – Paris : Seuil, 2011. – Traduction de : Wa

La Belle à dos d’âne dans l’avenue de Chang’an : récits / traduit du chinois par Marie Laureillard. – Arles : Picquier, 2011

Le veau ; suivi de Le coureur de fond / traduit du chinois par Francois Sastourné. – Paris : Seuil, 2012

Works in Swedish

Det röda fältet / översättning: Anna Gustafsson Chen. – Stockholm : Tranan, 1997. – Originaltitel: Hong gaoliang jiazu

Vitlöksballaderna / översättning: Anna Gustafsson Chen. – Stockholm : Tranan, 2001. – Originaltitel: Tiantang suantai zhi ge

Ximen Nao och hans sju liv / översättning från kinesiska: Anna Gustafsson Chen. – Stockholm : Tranan, 2012. – Originaltitel: Shengsi pilao

Works in Spanish

Sorgo rojo / traducido del inglés por Ana Poljak. – Barcelona : Muchnik, 1992. – Título original: Hong gaoliang jiazu

Grandes pechos, amplias caderas / traducción, Mariano Peyrou. – Madrid : Kailas, 2007. – Título original: Fengru feitun

Las baladas del ajo / traducción de Carlos Ossés. – Madrid : Kailas, 2008. – Título original: Tiantang suantai zhi ge

La vida y la muerte me están desgastando / traducción de Carlos Ossés. – Madrid : Kailas, 2009. – Título original: Shengsi pilao

La república del vino / traducción de Cora Tiedra. – Madrid : Kailas, 2010. – Título original: Jiuguo

Shifu, harías cualquier cosa por divertirte / traducción de Cora Tiedra. – Madrid : Kailas, 2011. – Título original: Shifu yuelai yue youmo

Rana / traducido del chino por Yifan Li ; editado por Cora Tiedra. – Madrid : Kailas, 2011. – Título original: Wa

Works in German

Das rote Kornfeld : Roman / Deutsch von Peter Weber-Schäfer. – Reinbek bei Hamburg : Rowohlt, 1993. – Originaltitel: Hong gaoliang jiazu

Die Knoblauchrevolte : Roman / Deutsch von Andreas Donath. – Reinbek bei Hamburg : Rowohlt, 1997. – Originaltitel: Tiantang suantai zhi ge

Trockener Fluß und andere Geschichten / Aus dem Chines. von Susanne Hornfeck u.a. – Dortmund : Projekt-Verl., 1997

Die Schnapsstadt : Roman / Deutsch von Peter Weber-Schäfer. – Reinbek bei Hamburg : Rowohlt, 2002. – Originaltitel: Jiuguo

Die Sandelholzstrafe : Roman / Aus dem Chines. von Karin Betz. – Frankfurt am Main : Insel, 2009. – Originaltitel: Tanxiangxing

Der Überdruss : Roman / Aus dem Chines. von Martina Hasse. – Bad Honnef : Horlemann, 2009. – Originaltitel: Shengsi pilao

 

Courtesy: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2012/bio-bibl.html

Know More

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Yan

Filed under: Author of the week

Jeet Thayil

Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India in 1959 and educated in Hong Kong, New York and Bombay. He is a performance poet, songwriter and guitarist, and has published four collections of poetry. He is the editor of The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (2008). He currently lives in New Delhi. He is best known as a poet and is the author of four collections: These Errors Are Correct (Tranquebar, 2008), English (2004, Penguin India, Rattapallax Press, New York, 2004), Apocalypso (Ark, 1997) and Gemini (Viking Penguin, 1992).

Early life and career

Thayil is the son of the writer and editor, Padma Bhushan TJS George, who at various times in his life was posted in several places in India, in Hong Kong and New York. Thayil was mostly educated abroad. He received a Masters in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College (New York), and is the recipient of grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Swiss Arts Council, the British Council and the Rockefeller Foundation.

His first novel, Narcopolis (Faber, 2011) is set mostly in Bombay in the 70s and 80s, and sets out to tell the city’s secret history, when opium gave way to new cheap heroin. Thayil has said he wrote the novel, “to create a kind of memorial, to inscribe certain names in stone. As one of the characters [in Narcopolis] says, it is only by repeating the names of the dead that we honour them. I wanted to honour the people I knew in the opium dens, the marginalised, the addicted and deranged, people who are routinely called the lowest of the low; and I wanted to make some record of a world that no longer exists, except within the pages of a book.”

He is the editor of the Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (Bloodaxe, U.K., 2008), 60 Indian Poets (Penguin India, 2008) and a collection of essays, Divided Time: India and the End of Diaspora (Routledge, 2006).

He is the author of the libretto for the opera Babur in London, commissioned by the UK-based Opera Group with music by the Zurich-based British composer Edward Rushton.[2] The world premiere of Babur will take place in Switzerland in 2012, followed by tours to the United Kingdom (where it will show at theatres in London and Oxford) and India. At the work’s core is an exploration about the complexities of faith and multiculturalism in modern-day Britain. Its action hinges on an imagined encounter between a group of religious fundamentalists and the ghost of Babur, who challenges their plans for a suicide strike.

Thayil is also known as a performance poet and musician. As a songwriter and guitarist, he is one half of the contemporary music project Sridhar/Thayil (Mumbai, New Delhi).

In 2006 he told the Indian newspaper, The Hindu, that he had been an alcoholic (like many of the Bombay poets) and an addict for almost two decades: "I spent most of that time sitting in bars, getting very drunk, talking about writers and writing. And never writing. It was a colossal waste. I feel very fortunate that I got a second chance." These days, he says, the only addictions he has are poetry and coffee. "Coffee’s much easier to get than heroin."

He has worked as a journalist in New York, Mumbai and Bangalore. He has been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2012 as revealed by its judging panel, for his debut novel Narcopolis.

Style

Thayil has been writing poetry since his adolescence, paying careful attention to form.

In his prose, as in his poetry, he has introduced new areas of feelings and emotions to Indian literature, and has often concerned himself with the pleasures and pains of drugs and alcohol, sex and death – emblematic of Keats and Baudelaire. He is said to have more in common with figures such as William S. Burroughs and Roberto Bolano than writers traditionally connected with the firmament of Indian literature. The Indian poet, Dom Moraes, in his introduction to Thayil’s first book of poems (with poet Vijay Nambisan), Gemini, said that Thayil did not trouble his mind with the concerns of many Indian poets, their Indianness, that he did not make statements that were irrelevant to his work, that his concerns were mainly personal. Thayil, Moraes said, “works his feelings out with care, through colourations of mood rather than through explicit statements.”

His idiom is the result of a cosmopolitan blend of styles, and is yet, quite clearly, his own. About Narcopolis, Thayil said, “I’ve always been suspicious of the novel that paints India in soft focus, a place of loved children and loving elders, of monsoons and mangoes and spices. To equal Bombay as a subject you would have to go much further than the merely nostalgic will allow. The grotesque may be a more accurate means of carrying out such an enterprise.”

Bibliography

Poetry
  • These Errors Are Correct, Tranquebar Books (EastWest and Westland), Delhi, 2008
  • English, Penguin, Delhi and Rattapallax Press, New York, 2004. ISBN 1-892494-59-0
  • Apocalypso , Aark Arts, London, 1997, ISBN 1-899179-01-1
  • Gemini, Penguin-Viking, New Delhi, 1992. (two-poet volume ), 0-670-84524-8
Fiction
As an editor
  • The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, Bloodaxe, U.K, 2008
  • 60 Indian Poets, Penguin India, 2008.
  • Divided Time: India and the End of Diaspora, Routledge, 2006
  • Give the Sea Change and It Shall Change: 56 Indian Poets, Fulcrum, 2005
  • Vox2: Seven Stories, Sterling Newspapers, India, 1997

 

Courtesy: Wikipedia and Man Booker Prize website

Filed under: Author of the week,

Julian Barnes wins the 2011 Man Booker Prize

Julian Barnes has won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for his novella “The Sense of an Ending”

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Photo: REX

Born: 19 January 1946, in Leicester, to two French teachers. The family moved to London six weeks after Barnes was born.

Educated: At City of London School from 1957 to 1964, before taking up a place at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Modern Languages, graduating in 1968.

Journalism career: After working for several years as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary supplement, Barnes was later a reviewer and then literary editor for the New Statesman and the New Review. During his early writing career he continued to work as a television critic for the New Statesman and the Observer.

Metroland: Barnes had his first novel, Metroland, published in 1980. The semi-autobiographical tale explored growing up in the suburbs of London and life in Paris as a post-graduate student. Themes of idealism and infidelity didn’t sit well with Barnes’ mother – who complained of a "bombardment" of filth after reading the novel – but fared rather better with the critics, and the novel was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award in 1981. Metroland was made into a film in 1997, starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson.

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Flaubert’s Parrot: Barnes garnered his first Booker Prize nomination for his third novel, Flaubert’s Parrot (1984). It details the life reflections of a fictional retired doctor and the Gustave Flaubert-obsessive Geoffrey Braithwaite, in three chronological sequences – through positive and negative mindsets, and finally via journal quotes from different stages of Braithwaite’s life. Flaubert’s Parrot lost out on the Booker Prize to Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac, but picked up the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize the following year.

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Relationship with France: A keen interest in France, which often figures in his writing, has helped Barnes become the only writer to win prestigious French literary prizes the Prix Médicis (1986 – Flaubert’s Parrot) and the Prix Fémina (1992 – Talking It Over). His book Cross Channel, which examined Britain’s relationship with France in ten stories, was published in 1996, a year after he was made Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Barnes remains one of Britain’s best-loved authors across the channel, and was made Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2004.

Booker Prize bridesmaid: Fourteen years after his first nomination, Barnes was again shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1998, for satirical science fiction novel England, England. He was also nominated in 2005, for Arthur and George, a story loosely based on the Great Wyrley Outrages of 1903. He lost out on both occasions.

Other writing: Barnes has also had non-fiction work published, including a collection on cooking (The Pedant in the Kitchen, 2003), and in the early 1980s penned crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Man Booker Prize winner: Barnes finally secured the Man Booker Prize tonight – at the fourth time of asking – for The Sense of an Ending, a novella "about memory and friendship which has been ecstatically greeted by critics".

Courtesy: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booker-prize/8834873/Julian-Barnes-profile.html

Filed under: Author of the week, ,

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee in his lab at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and The New Republic. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

His book, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” won the 2011 Pulitzer prize for general nonfiction.

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In Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s lab, a Stanley Kubrick-like space at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University, enormous white freezers with digital temperature readouts keep tissue at 80 below zero. Sterile work stations with transparent hoods and bacteria-scattering blowers emit an unearthly blue light. And there is a bountiful supply of mice that, thanks to the addition of a jellyfish gene, literally glow either red or green in the dark.

Under the microscope, their blood-forming stem cells, a particular interest of Dr. Mukherjee’s right now, shine like tiny Christmas lights. Just recently, he said, he and his team had discovered what may be a new mutation associated with the precancerous condition myelodysplasia.

“Cell culture is a little like gardening,” he added. “You sit and you look at cells, and then you see something and say, ‘You know, that doesn’t look right.’ “

Dr. Mukherjee, an oncologist and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia, known as Sid by his friends, is married to the MacArthur award-winning artist Sarah Sze and looks less like a scientist than like the leading man in a Bollywood musical. He belongs to that breed of physicians, rapidly multiplying these days, who also have literary DNA in their genome, and his first book, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” comes out from Scribner on Nov. 16.

The book tells the stories of several cancer patients, and also of heroic researchers like Sidney Farber, who pioneered the treatment of childhood leukemia. But its main character, as the subtitle suggests, is the disease itself as it has been diagnosed, treated and thought about over the last 4,000 years.

In the early 1950s, Dr. Mukherjee points out in the book, cancer was still considered so unmentionable that a woman seeking to place an advertisement in The New York Times for a support group was told that the paper could not print either the word “breast” or the word “cancer.” How about “diseases of the chest wall,” an editor helpfully suggested. Then, a few decades later, cancer was in the public limelight, thought to be virtually curable if we just waged sufficient “war” against it.

What we understand now, thanks to advances in cell biology, Dr. Mukherjee writes, is that cancer is normalcy of a sort. Cancer cells are “hyperactive, survival-endowed, scrappy, fecund, inventive copies of ourselves,” he says, and adds: “We can rid ourselves of cancer, then, only as much as we can rid ourselves of the processes in our physiology that depend on growth — aging, regeneration, healing, reproduction.”

Dr. Mukherjee grew up in New Delhi; his father was a manager for Mitsubishi, and his mother had been a schoolteacher. He went to a Roman Catholic school there, where he was required to learn by heart a staggering amount of poetry, but attended college at Stanford, which he chose mostly because some cousins lived in California. After studying immunology at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, he went to Harvard Medical School.

By the time he got there, Dr. Mukherjee had pretty much decided to specialize in oncology, but the experience of actually encountering patients was transforming. “All of a sudden it’s as if the world had turned,” he said. “Everything suddenly becomes real, and your emotional responses become hyper-acute.”

And it was because of a patient, he added, that he began to write “The Emperor of All Maladies.” “I was having a conversation with a patient who had stomach cancer,” he recalled, “and she said, ‘I’m willing to go on fighting, but I need to know what it is that I’m battling.’ It was an embarrassing moment. I couldn’t answer her, and I couldn’t point her to a book that would. Answering her question — that was the urgency that drove me, really. The book was written because it wasn’t there.”

He wrote most of it in bed, propped up on pillows, and by mastering what he called the “art of full indiscipline.”

“Instead of saying, ‘I’ll get up every day at 5:30’ or, ‘I’ll write from 9 to 12,’ I did the complete opposite,” he said. “I said: ‘I will write during the day for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, whatever. I’ll write in stretches until the book is done.”

“The Emperor of All Maladies” (which Dr. Mukherjee adapted into an article for The New York Times Magazine last month) employs a complicated structure, looping around in time, juggling several themes at once and toggling between scientific discussions and stories of people, and yet Dr. Mukherjee says he wrote it in pretty much linear fashion from start to finish, without moving things around. He was influenced by both Richard Rhodes’s study “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” and Randy Shilts’s “And the Band Played On,” each a big book about a historical moment, but his real breakthrough came, he said, when he conceived of his book as a biography.

“I began wondering, can one really write a biography of an illness?” he said. “But I found myself thinking of cancer as this character that has lived for 4,000 years, and I wanted to know what was its birth, what is its mind, its personality, its psyche?” At times in the book he even personifies the illness, talking about its “saturnine” quality, its “moody, volcanic unpredictability.”

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Last week Dr. Mukherjee gave an upbeat lunchtime talk to a group of cancer fellows at Columbia, young physicians who are preparing to become oncologists. He spoke quickly, clicking through a series of PowerPoint slides, but occasionally slowed down to remind the fellows about the kinds of questions that were bound to come up in their board exam. Talking about drug treatments, he reminded them: “If something is good, more is not necessarily better. Not always.”

“Are cancer patients living longer?” he asked, and then answered his own question: it depends on which cancer and on when you start measuring. And yet in the treatment of myeloma, his main theme that day, changes had come so fast, he said, that everything he had learned at their age was already out of date, and a new generation of drugs — über-thalidomides, he called them — were changing the picture even as he spoke. Myeloma, a cancer of blood plasma cells, is still not curable but often now is very treatable.

Dr. David Scadden, a Harvard hematologist and oncologist who supervised Dr. Mukherjee when he was a cancer fellow, recalled that his enthusiasm was such that he sometimes seemed to levitate off the laboratory floor. “People who take care of cancer patients and also have the research dimension are people who are unsatisfied with how things are but optimistic about how they might be,” he said. “Sid has an internal hope machine.”

At one point in “The Emperor of All Maladies” Dr. Mukherjee calls oncology a “dismal discipline,” but, sitting in his office, he said his work did not make him feel dispirited. “What does it mean to be an oncologist?” he explained. “It means that you get to sit in at a moment of another person’s life that is so hyper-acute, and not just because they’re medically ill. It’s also a moment of hope and expectation and concern. It’s a moment when you get to erase everything that’s irrelevant and ask the most elemental questions — about survival, family, children, legacy.”

“Most days,” he added, “I go home and I feel rejuvenated. I feel ebullient.”

Courtesy: The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/books/09mukherjee.html?pagewanted=2

 

Author Website

ScreenShot001

http://sidmukherjee.com/

 

Filed under: Author of the week, , ,

Kannada writer S L Bhyrappa chosen for Saraswati Samman 2011

Kannada writer S L Bhyrappa was selected for the prestigious Saraswati Samman for his novel ‘Mandra’.

Prof Bhyrappa was selected by the jury headed by former Chief Justice of India G B Patnaik. The award, constituted by K K Birla Foundation, consists of Rs 7.50 lakh, a citation and a plaque.
"After consideration of the works published in 22 Indian languages during 2000-2009, the Chayan Parishad (jury) selected ‘Mandra’, a novel in Kannada by Prof Bhyrappa for the 20th Saraswati Samman," a statement said here.
The 75-year-old writer has so far authored 22 novels, the first being ‘Bheemakaya’ in 1959. He is one of the best selling novelists in Kannada over the past 25 years.
‘Mandra’ is one of the most acclaimed epic novels of Prof Bhyrappa.
Saraswati Samman was instituted in 1991 and is given every year on an outstanding literary work written in any Indian language mentioned in schedule VII of the Constitution by an Indian citizen and published during the last 10 years.

 

Biography

SANTESHIVARA LINGANNAIAH (S.L.) BHYRAPPA

Date of Birth: 20-8-1931
Qualifications: M.A Philosophy, 1958; Ph.D in Aesthetics, 1963
Occupation: Professor of Philosophy (Retired)

Professor S.L. Bhyrappa is the bestselling novelist in the southern Indian language of Kannada over the last 25 years, the bestselling novelist in Marathi over the past decade and he has been a top five bestselling author in Hindi. He is a serious literary artist, always concerned with fundamental human conditions and predicaments. In addition to his profound knowledge of Indian philosophical and cultural traditions, Professor Bhyrappa has since childhood had intense personal experiences in both rural and urban settings. Drawing on this, his characters grow from the Indian soil. Seminars have been and are being held on his novels, and many volumes of literary criticism have been published on his works. His books have been assigned to the curriculum of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses by the universities in the state of Karnataka, and have been the subject of Ph.D dissertations.

Publications

Novels

2010
Kavalu (Branch)
2007
Aavarana (Veil); 22nd reprint within 18 months of publication
2002
Mandra (Musical note); 5th reprint
1998
Saartha (Caravan); 6th reprint
1996
Bhitti (Canvas [Autobiography]); 6th reprint
1993
Tantu (Fibre); 6th reprint
1990
Anchu (Edge); 5th reprint
1986
Sakshi (The Witness); 5th reprint
1983
Nele (The Foundation); 6th reprint
1979
Parva (The Epoch); 9th reprint
1976
Anveshana (Search); 7th reprint
1973
Daatu (Crossing Over); 8th reprint
1972
Grahana (The Eclipse); 7th reprint
1971
Jalapaata (TheWaterfall); 9th reprint
1971
Niraakarana (Rejection); 8th reprint
1970
Grihabhanga (The Broken Home); 8th reprint
1968
Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane (Son, You Are An Orphan); 8th reprint
1968
Naayi-Neralu (The Dog and the Shadow); 10th reprint
1965
Vamshavriksha (Scion); 13th reprint
1965
Matadaana (Casting Vote); 9th reprint
1962
Doorasaridaru (Moved Apart); 10th reprint
1961
Dharmashree; 11th reprint
1960
Bheemakhaya (The Wrestler); 3rd reprint

Novels translated into English

2006
The Caravan (Saratha), transl. S. Ramaswamy (New Delhi: Oxford University Press)
2003
Crossing Over (Daatu), transl. Pradhan Gurudatta & David Mowat (Delhi: B.R. Publishing)
2000
The Witness (Sakshi), transl. S.L. Bhyrappa & Sharon Norris (Chennai: East West Books (Madras) Pvt. Limited)
1995
Scion (Vamshavruksha), transl. S.L. Bhyrappa & Sushuma Chandrasekhar (Chennai: East West Books (Madras) Pvt. Limited)
1994
Parva, transl. K. Raghavendra Rao (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi)

Academic publications in English

1968
Values in Modern Indian Educational Thought (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
1964
Truth & Beauty: A Study in Correlations (Baroda: M.S.University Press)
Research Papers published in various Journals like Indian Philosophical Quarterly, Darshana International, Journal of University of Baroda, etc.

Films based on S.L. Bhyrappa’s novels

2006
Naayi Neralu (The Dog and the Shadow) (Kannada) directed by G. Kasaravalli
2000
Matadana (Casting Vote) (Kannada) directed by T.N. Sitaram
1978
Vamshavriksha (Scion) (Telugu) directed by Mr. Babu
1976
Godhuli (The Orphan) (Hindi) directed by G. Karnad and B.V. Karanth
1975
Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane (The Orphan) (Kannada) directed by G. Karnad and B.V. Karanth
1972
Vamshavriksha (Scion) (Kannada) directed by B.V. Karanth and G. Karnad

Television series based on S.L. Bhyrappa’s novels

2002
Grihabhanga (The Broken Home) (Kannada)

Awards

Literary awards

2010
Honorary D.Litt from Karnataka University-Dharwad
2007
Honorary D.Litt from Gulbarga University
2007
Hedgewar Award (Calcutta)
2007
NTR Award (Andhra Pradesh)
2006
Pampa (Karnataka State) Award
2005
Honorary D.Litt from Karnataka Government Open University, Mysore
2002
Samanyajnana Award for Contribution to Literature
2000
S. R. Patil Award for Contribution to Literature
2000
Gorur Award for Contribution to Literature
1996-97
Award of the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishat, Samvatsar Puraskar (Calcutta) for Tantu (Fibre)
1996
Masti Award for Contribution to Literature (Bangalore)
1998
Granthaloka (The Book World) Best Literary Work of the Year Award for Saakshi (The Witness)
1986
The Karnataka State Award for Total Contribution to Literature
1985
The Karnataka Sahitya (Literary) Academy Award for Contribution to Literature
1975
Central Sahitya Academy (Institute of Letters) Best Literary Work Award (New Delhi) for Daatu (Crossing Over)
1974
The Karnataka State Sahitya (Literary) Academy Best Literary Work of the Year Award (Bangalore) for Daatu (Crossing Over)
1968
The Karnataka State Sahitya (Literary) Academy Best Literary Work of the Year Award for Vamshavriksha (The Uprooted)

Awards for films based on S.L. Bhyrappa’s novels

2007
International Film Festival of Mumbai MAMI Best Film Award for Naayi Neralu (The Dog and the Shadow) (Kannada)
2006
Osian’s Asian Film Festival, CINEFAN, Jury Award in the Indian Film Category for Naayi Neralu (The Dog and the Shadow)
2006
Karachi International Film Festival Best Feature Film Award for Naayi Neralu (The Dog and the Shadow)
2006
Karantaka State Film Award for Naayi Neralu (The Dog and the Shadow)
2001
The Government of India Best Regional Feature Film Award for Matadana (Casting Vote) (Kannada)
1977
The Government of India Best Feature Film Award for Godhuli (The Orphan) (Hindi)
1972
The Government of India Best Feature Film Award for Vamshavriksha (Scion) (Kannada)

Scholarships and other honours (selected)

1992
One of the five member of the Indian Literary Delegation, invited to visit China by the Government of China
1983
Ford Foundation Award to visit the USA to study the cultural problems of Indian immigrants to the USA
1977
British Council Fellowship tenured at the School of Education, University of London

Conferences (selected)

2007
International Conference, University of Udine, Italy
2007
President, Association of Kannadighas Meeting, Dubai
2006
Association of Kannada Koota America, Washington DC, USA
1999
President of the 67th All India Kannada Literary Conference, Kanakapure, India
1998
President, World Kannada Sammelana, Phoenix, USA
1994
Inaugural Address, All Indian Marathi Literary Conference, Goa, India
1991
East-West Writers Meeting, Bled, Slovenia
1975
Representative of India, UNESCO Seminar on Moral Education, Tokyo, Japan
 
Chairman and President of over 25 literary conferences held in India

Membership of literary associations (selected)

1987-92
Executive Board, Central Sahitya Academy (Institute of Letters), New Delhi, India
1982-87
Executive Board, Karnataka Sahitya (Literary) Academy, Bangalore, India
Life Member: Indian Philosophical Congress

Novels translated into other Indian languages 
(publication information available upon request)

Vamshavriksha: Telugu, Marathi (3rd Edition), Hindi (4th edition) & Urdu.
Naayi-Neralu: Gujarathi, Hindi (3rd edition)
Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane: Hindi (3rd edition)
Grihabhanga: All 14 Indian Languages by the National Book Trust, India
Niraakarana: Hindi (3rd edition)
Daatu: All 14 Indian Languages by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
Anveshana: Marathi, Hindi (2nd Edition)
Parva:Marathi (2nd Edition), Hindi (3rd Edition), Tamil, Telugu & Bengali
Nele: Hindi
Saakshi: Hindi
Anchu: Marathi, Hindi
Tantu:Marathi, Hindi (2nd Edition)
Saartha: Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi
Bhitti: Marathi, Hindi
Dharmashree: Sanskrit, Marathi
Naaneke Barayuttene: Marathi

Interests and hobbies

Dr Bhyrappa is an avid listener of both Indian and Western classical music and has an interest in art and sculpture. He has trekked in the Alps, the Rockies, Andes and in Fujiama, but the Himalayas including Manasa Sarovara remain as his greatest passion. He is widely travel covering all the continents except Australia. He has taken expedition to Siberia, Antartica and Alaska.

Courtesy: http://slbhyrappa.com

Author Website

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Anant Pai (Uncle Pai)

The creator of ‘Indian comics’ and founder of Amar Chitra Katha on which generations of Indians grew up.

Anant Pai, (17 September 1929 – 24 February 2011) popularly known as Uncle Pai, was a renowned educationalist and creator of Indian comics, in particular the Amar Chitra Kathaseries in 1967, along with the India Book House publishers, and which retold traditional Indian folk tales, mythological stories, and biographies of historical characters. In 1980, he launchedTinkle, a children’s anthology, which was started under Rang Rekha Features, India’s first comic and cartoon syndicate, that lasted till 1998, with him as the Managing Director

Anant Pai suffered a massive heart attack and passed away on 24th Februay 2011 at 5 pm.

Today, Amar Chitra Katha, sells about three million comic books a year, in English and more than 20 Indian languages, and has sold about 100 million copies since it inception in 1967 by Anant Pai, and in 2007 was taken over by ACK Media.

Early life and education

Born in Karkala, Karnataka to Venkataraya and Susheela Pai, he lost his parents at the age of two. At the age of twelve, he came to Mumbai, where he studied in Orient School, Mahim. He studied chemistry, physics and chemical technology at the University of Bombay Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT now UICT) and was a dual degree holder from the University of Bombay.

Early career

Endowed with a passion for publishing and comics, his failed attempt at creating a children’s magazine (Manav, 1954) was followed by a career as a junior executive in the Times of India books division, putting him in the thick of affairs when Indrajal comics was launched by the Times Group.

The Amar Chitra Katha years

The idea behind starting a comicbook series devoted to Indian culture and history came to Pai from a quiz contest aired on Doordarshan in February 1967, in which participants could easily answer questions pertaining to Greek mythology, but were unable to reply to the question "In the Ramayana, who was Rama’s mother?".

He left his job and started Amar Chitra Katha the same year, with the help of late G. L. Mirchandani of India Book House, when most other publishers from Allied Publishers to Jaico had rejected the concept. Later, he took on the role of writer, editor and publisher. The series went on to become a publishing milestone for the Indian comic book scene, selling over 86 million copies of about 440 titles.

In 1969, Anant Pai founded Rang Rekha Features, India’s first comic and cartoon syndicate, and started the children’s magazine Tinkle in 1980. His involvement with the above, and the rapport he shared with his readers earned him the title "Uncle Pai".

Other works

Ramu and Shamu, Kapish, Little Raji, Rekha, Fact Fantasy, Funland and Funtime are some of the comic strips created by Pai, most of which continue to appear in newspapers and magazines. He has written and produced two video films, Ekam Sat (the Vedic Concept of God) and The Secret of Success, in English and Hindi.

Pai’s other works include a number of books on personality development for children and teenagers, ("How To Develop Self-confidence", "How to Achieve Success", "How To Develop A Super Memory", UBS Publishers) and a series of audio book versions of Amar Chitra Kathastories, "Storytime with Uncle Pai" (Universal Music India, Dec 2001), where he plays the role of narrator-storyteller.

Awards

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – at the First Indian Comic Convention, New Delhi (Feb 19, 2011 – just 6 days before his death) was given to him by Pran, Creator of Chacha Chaudhury
  • Karpoorchand Puraskar of Uttar Pradesh Bal Kalyan Sansthan (1994)
  • Yudhvir Memorial Award in Hyderabad (1996)
  • Maharashtra Rajya Hindi Sahitya Academy Award (1996)
  • Dr. T. M. A. Pai Memorial Award in Manipal (1997)
  • University of Bombay Department of Chemical Technology’s Distinguished Alumnus Award (1999)
  • Millennium Konkani Sammelan Award, Illinois, U.S.A (2000)
  • Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation’s Award (2001)
  • Priyadarshni Academy Award (2002)
  • Vishwa Saraswat Sammaan (2003)

Personal life

He was a resident of Prabhadevi, Mumbai. He died on February 24 2011.He is survived by his wife, Lalita Pai.

 

Amar Chitra Katha

Amar Chitra Katha (Hindi: अमर चित्र कथा, amar citra kathā ?, "Immortal Captivating (or Picture) Stories") (Amar Chitra Katha PL)is one of India‘s largest selling comic bookseries, with more than 90 million copies sold in 20 Indian languages. Founded in 1967, the imprint has more than 400 titles that retell stories from the great Indian epics, mythology, history, folklore, and fables in a comic book format. It was created by Anant Pai, and published by India Book House. In 2007, the imprint and all its titles were acquired by a new venture called ACK Media. On September 17, 2008, a new website by ACK-media was launched.

Creation and creators

The comic series was started by Anant Pai in an attempt to teach Indian children about their cultural heritage. He was shocked that Indian students could answer questions on Greek and Roman mythology, but were ignorant of their own history, mythology and folklore. It so happened that a quiz contest aired on Doordarshan in February 1967, in which participants could easily answer questions pertaining to Greek mythology, but were unable to reply to the question "In theRamayana, who was Rama‘s mother?".

Writers like Kamala Chandrakant, Margie Sastry, Subba Rao, Debrani Mitra and C.R Sharma joined the creative team of Amar Chitra Katha, with Anant Pai taking on the role of editor and co-writer on most scripts. The notable illustrators, other than Ram Waeerkar, wereDilip Kadam, Sanjeev Waeerkar, Souren Roy, C.D Rane, Geoffrey Fowler and Pratap Mullick.

The comics

The original printings of Amar Chitra were not in full colour—because of budgetary constraints, the panels were printed using yellow, blue and green. Subsequent issues, however, changed to full colour. All Amar Chitra Katha books stuck to a monthly (later fortnightly) 30-page format, with emphasis on lucid, entertaining storylines. In addition to the ‘singles’ format the stories are also available as hardcover 3-in-1 and 5-in-1 bundles. There are special editions of the epics like the Mahabharata which is available in a 3 volume 1300+ pages set.

Occasionally there were "bumper" issues with 90 pages, most collecting stories of a similar type from individual issues( Example: Monkey Stories From The Hitopadesha, Tales of Birbal and some being longer stories The Story of Rama). As the epic stories became more popular, the team began to publish stories based on Indian history, of men and women belonging to different regions and religions and also on stories based on Sanskrit as well as regional classics. The continuous popularity of the comics led to reprints being issued frequently, which ensured that the back-issues remained in print throughout the seventies and the eighties. At the height of its popularity, in the mid-eighties, it had been translated into Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit and Urdu and selling half a million copies a month. Some titles were also translated into French, Spanish, German, Swahili, Fijian, Indonesian, and Serbo-Croat.

Towards the mid-nineties, the original comics were reprinted in sleeker and more durable editions, with thick cardstock covers and better colour separations. Today, Amar Chitra Katha has a national footprint across all major book retailers, hundreds of small bookstores, and tens of thousands of vendors. It is the best-selling children’s publication in most large format stores.

In 2007, the publisher created a new online store that offers all the titles with shipping worldwide. The titles are divided in following categories

  1. Fables & Folktales (e.g. Panchatantra)
  2. Mythology (e.g. The Ramayana)
  3. The Epics (e.g. The Ramayana)
  4. Humour & wit
  5. Biographies (e.g. Mahatma Gandhi)
  6. Literary Classics
  7. 3 in 1 Titles
  8. 5 in 1 Titles
  9. Special Issues

Cultural significance

Amar Chitra Katha was launched at a time when Indian society was slowly moving away from the traditional joint family system, because of (among other things) socio-economic constraints and urbanization. In a joint family system, grandparents would regale the children of the household with tales from folklore and the epics, and the Amar Chitra Katha series served to fill the void left by grandparents in the smaller nuclear families in urban areas. The choice of English as the primary language led it to reach the majority of children who studied in English medium schools.

Later, when the comic added historical topics, it proved very helpful to students. For most, Indian history, a jumble of names and dates, came alive as stories. The detailed research of architecture, costumes, regional flavours and facts ensured that the comics were widely accepted into the mainstream, both parents and teachers using them as educational aids. To an extent, these books, with their homogenized and unbiased character descriptions went a long way in promoting national integration and increasing inter-provincial awareness throughout the country.

It should be mentioned that the series steered clear of controversy, taming down content and violence and adhering to strict self-censorship.

In popular culture

In the film Gulaal, a major character, Rananjay Singh express his disapproval of traditional patriarchal rajput machoism by saying that he does not want to live in Amar Chitra Katha but real world.

Modernisation

Amar Chitra Katha has evolved over times. Now it is available as a digital media in more means from online access to mobile phones. ACK-Media has recently partnered with iRemedi Corp of Atlanta, GA to deliver Amar Chitra Katha comics on the iPhone platform. Popular Amar Chitra Katha Comics were launched on the iPhone platform by iRemedi and Apple on 5th December, 2009. Amar Chitra Katha comics have been adapted for the iPhone platform for readers to enjoy panel by panel reading experience on the iPhones and iPod touches on iRemedi’s ETHER MEDIA viewer solution. More information can be found at iRemedi’s website.

Popular ACK Titles may be found directly in Apple’s iTunes Appstore.

Criticism

The stories are often simplistic and sometimes rely on authentic but singular sources for the script. This has led to the criticism that they should not be considered as "history". The illustrations in Amar Chitra Katha created a generation of Indians who could visualize historical and mythological characters only through these. These were often not very thoroughly researched and true picturisations, but were later emulated in TV series like ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’. A lot of these were derivatives of artist Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings and depictions. The simplistic portrayal of characters as villains and heroes (much like the ones in mainstream Hindi movies) betrayed an association with certain ethnic stereotypes. For example, all demons were portrayed with dark complexion.

Though some of these criticisms held valid in some comic series, many of the critics themselves are often politically motivated by the ideologies of their religion or academic institution; prejudice itself frequently forms the basis of some criticisms.

 

Courtesy: Wikipedia and various sources on Internet

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