London's publishers may produce 1,00,000 new books a year, but when it comes to book launches they're learning a thing or two from Indians. Only three months ago, when Random House's international director Simon Littlewood and senior editor Jane Lawson flew down here to launch Vikas Swarup's Q & A, they were overwhelmed by the scale of the event: ministers, diplomats, socialites, TV cameras—the works. But with more Indian authors than ever on the London literary circuit this season, book launches there seem to be borrowing the Indian style. So for the launch of the UK edition of Pavan Varma's not-so-new Being Indian, Random House had the event inside the House of Commons premises, with two lords, Bhikhu Parekh and Meghnad Desai, on the discussion panel, along with Judith Brown.
Auhors with manuscripts of short stories are usually told to go home and produce a novel before they can dream of a book launch. Not this one. Nandita Puri's debut collection, Nine on Nine, got the full treatment: launch at the Grand Sheraton's ballroom, a reading by Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, a cover by M.F. Husain and blurbs by Shobhaa De and Khushwant Singh. Why? She's actor Om Puri's wife.