August 10, 2020
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Remember the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize ceremony of 2002. The one when His Salmanness was not Sirji yet nor was Coetzee Nobel...?

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Litsoup Royale

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize ceremony is returning to India this April after a decade, but can it create the buzz it did in 2000? Then, it had everything. Literary stars—both the main contenders, J.M. Coetzee and Salman Rushdie descended on Delhi; it had a breathless race ending in Coetzee pipping Rushdie to the prize; it had delicious gossip, with the piqued Rushdie calling one of the judges “a wall-faced woman”. In other words, a literary feast for all! We won’t know for another week or two who the contenders are but perhaps to ensure that it won’t be a total washout for an already litfested-out Delhi, the festivities have been outsourced to Mita Kapur’s literary consultancy firm, Siyahi. As one of the two founders that set the Jaipur litfest on its road to success, they probably decided she’s their best bet to drum up some enthusiasm in jaded Delhi.

Auctioner Takes All

Tired of looking for agents abroad who understand the Indian publishing scenario, writers are overcoming their inhibitions and holding their own auctions. The latest is Samit Basu, author of the GameWorld Trilogy, who put up his next novel, Turbulence, for auction. The winning bid of an astounding seven or eight lakh rupees came from Hachette. So one more writer bolts from Penguin’s stable.

Gold Standards

Writers’ retreats sound almost like spiritual resorts, with writers disappearing into cabins in woods in pools of silence to work. Not so, claimed well-known UK writer Louis de Bernier: “The only time I went to a writers’ retreat, all they (writers) talked about was money.” 

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