June 28, 2020
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So who gained from the volcano with the unpronounceable name? Who lost? Who got a consolation prize?

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Not Ashen-faced

This is the week that publishers here have been gearing up for months: to buy and sell rights at the London Book Fair, but more importantly, to network with publishers and agents. But after booking stalls and getting lists ready, nearly all of them had to call off their trip because of Iceland’s volcanic ash disrupting air travel. US and Canadian publishers have also cancelled, leaving the exhibition centre in Earls Court half-deserted. While most publishers here claim it’s not a blow, because business can be done by e-mail, several are working out alternate plans. Roli Books is planning to attend the Books Expo in New York next month, with a stopover in London to meet potential buyers, to make up for disrupted plans.

Winning Horseman

Talk of the early bird! Picador’s Shruti Debi was among the couple of Indian publishers to get to the London fair—by reaching a week before the airlines grounded. With hardly any rivals, Picador’s star book—The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya—has created a bit of a buzz. Bhattacharya’s fictional debut, set in Guyana, had earlier been preempted by American publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux, who secured US and Canadian rights.

Film For Noir

With Stieg Larsson’s trilogy becoming a bestseller in India, the Swedish embassy decided to organise a Swedish Crime Fiction week, with author Hakan Nesser flying in for a crime fiction workshop. But once again, the volcano with the unpronounceable name came in the way: Nesser was stranded in Stockholm. But Delhiites got a consolation prize: a screening of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the film based on the trilogy’s first book.

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