Bibliofile

Chiki Sarkar brings first sweeping change to Penguin, and the age of literary feuds seems to be here to stay

Exit Avenue

Having lost most of its experienced editors to rival houses, Penguin’s new editorial boss Chiki Sarkar has brought in her first sweeping change: a set of commissioning editors who are very different from the old Penguin set: young, inexperienced but enthusiastic readers, and presumably without literary baggage. The authors who don’t like the changes are migrating, of course, sometimes taking their old titles along with their new books. Sudeep Chakravarti, for instance, who published two successful books with Penguin, took his next book, Avenue of Kings, to HarperCollins. And since this was a sequel to his best-selling coming-of-age novel, Tin Fish, that too has now moved to his new publisher.

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Eyrie For Keeps

In its fourth year now, the Shakti Bhatt prize for best first book has now become a coveted award despite its relatively modest prize money of Rs 1 lakh. This year, the winner is Jalandhar-born Pakistani Jamil Ahmad for his The Wandering Falcon. there’s one thing about the former civil servant-turned-writer that he just can’t seem to escape: his age. Whether it’s his publisher or the prize organisers, they can’t resist tagging it on, as if it was the most interesting thing about Ahmad or his book. He’s 78.


Game Of Topple

It seems the age of literary feuds has come to stay. We have our desi version of it emerging, with journalist Mihir Sharma taking on the man who is “famous for knowing the famous”—Suhel Seth. Sharma’s review of Seth’s “self-advancement” manual, Get to the Top, is really part of what’s becoming a popular Indian pastime: bringing Icarus down.

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