Neville Tuli's Osian's claims to be India's first literary agency are incorrect, as Ruskin Bond informs us in a letter. That honour belongs to V.D. Trivadi who, way back in 1967 or 1968, resigned from the Times of India, Bombay, to set up a literary agency. Among his first clients was Bond, who sent him the manuscript of his children' book, Panther's Moon. Within three months, Trivadi sold it to Random House, New York, on favourable terms. The book was published in 1969, launching Bond on his career as a children's writer. But with not too many saleable Indian authors around then, Trivadi, after a couple of years, had to close shop. He returned to TOI, where he died (literally at his desk) some 20 years ago.
Western UP seems to be the hottest new source of literary inspiration. Close on the heels of Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief, Stephen Alter's book on the making of the film Omkara, comes The Sugar Baron's Daughter, set in western UP's sugarcane country. This book, by IAS officer Loveleen Kacker, a joint secretary in the ministry of Woman and Child Development, has a daring image of a nude couple entwined on the cover. Don't get your hopes up, though, it's far less steamy between the covers.
In Da House
The newest entrant into the world of Indian publishing is Landmark, the famous chain of bookshops with branches in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow and Bhopal. Now they're launching their own imprint, headed by literary critic Nilanjana Roy. Their USP will be books on food and travel, both a passion now for middle-class Indians with disposable incomes.