But signing on authors from the subcontinent is only the first step. The next (and harder step) will be when publishers start marketing their books in neighbouring countries. For instance, when Penguin launched Nepal's first English novel, Tutor of History, by Manjushree Thapa in Kathmandu two years ago, they took only 70 copies for the launch. Mysteriously, the novel never hit the bookshops in Kathmandu. Her latest, Forget Kathmandu—An Elegy for Democracy is, as the title suggests, not a very complimentary look at what's going on in Nepal after the royal assassination. Not surprisingly, both author and publisher preferred to hold the launch in Delhi instead of Kathmandu.
Author-editor relations are the stuff that sometimes turn into books. Even the venerable and very staid OUP must have its stock of author troubles discussed over lunch. But one author who seems to have made a distinct impression on everyone in OUP is former feminist author Madhu Kishwar. She has just added on a middle name—Purnima—but that doesn't change much. It was clear from the wary distance OUP editors and publicity staff kept from Kishwar at the launch of her third book, Deepening Democracy, and the silent consternation with which they saw the hall they'd hired being overrun by guests not originally on the list, that this was one book launch they couldn't wait to get over.