February 18, 2020
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"Hoop tricks", book-launches and the Super cop's spiritual connection...

illustration by Jayachandran Sometimes it’s hard for a first-time novelist to judge if a book launch is meant to boost her ego or to sell the book. Manjushree Thapa, author of The Tutor of History, has already had a launch in Kathmandu befitting "the first major novel in English to emerge from Nepal". That launch accomplished both—massaged her ego and sold all the 200 copies that Penguin India had flown in for the event. But another launch in Delhi? The shy and self-confessed "socially maladjusted person" that she is, Manjushree says she is tempted to say, "Hey! it’s just a novel, leave me alone." But on the other hand, there is the reason why writers agree in the first place to turn into performers. "I’m lured by the promise of one day, eventually, if I perform all the right hoop tricks, I’ll be able to make a living off writing," admits Manjushree.

illustration by Jayachandran If anyone had doubts of how useful "hoop tricks" are in selling a book, they have just to look at the Harry Potter books that have almost never left the bestseller lists since they first appeared in the bookstores. It’s now being called the publishing event of the last century. And guess where the publishers expect the next century-defining moment in publishing to come from? India, as David Davidar told a wide-eyed audience in Chennai recently. Publishers at the Frankfurt Fair are convinced, according to the Penguin India CEO, that if there’s a book to beat Harry Potter, it will rise from the soil of Mother India.

illustration by Jayachandran And now book receptions are spilling over to our foreign missions as well. A swank little reception was held by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, in honour of its publication of a collection of poems, Milles Fleur. Edited by Kamlesh Sharma, the collection boasts of poems chosen by UN leaders, including Kofi Annan, who was the chief guest at the function.

illustration by Jayachandran In a bid to outdo each other, publishers are coming up with new ways to launch their books. At the recent launch of the Penguin series on Gods and Goddesses of India, K.P.S. Gill was one of the three panelists to discuss "Divine Faith: Does it Increase Professional Output?" Asked what he knew about spirituality, the dapper cop quipped: "Well, I imbibe a lot of spirits."

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