In 2007, at the little magazine pavilion at the Kolkata International Book Fair, Bengali writer Subimal Mishra was there with his latest literary work which was not easy to catergorise in form or publishing format. It was roughly 400 pages of photocopied papers—a mix of visuals, handwritten and typed original texts, and cut-ups, calligraphy, designs, newspaper advertisement and photographs—in a fat cardboard paper file. Even the title of the work made it difficult to print for mainstream publishers, as it included expletives.
This was towards the end of his literary career, and Mishra, who died in February this year at the age of 80 after a prolonged illness, was becoming more rebellious against dominant and conventional writing and publishing forms in the autumn of his life. Two collections of English translations of his earlier short stories have since been published by HarperCollins India. However, Mishra’s readership in Bengali has always doubted whether it is at all possible for any mainstream publisher to produce his books exactly the way he originally published them, either with independent publishers or by himself.