February 22, 2020
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“It’s like undressing a reluctant girlfriend!” That was Mani Shankar Aiyer, struggling with the giftwrap that bound Annie Zaidi’s Known Turf


Mandate Of Choice

Amitav Ghosh may be one writer who got more leverage out of withdrawing from the Commonwealth writer’s prize than most writers get by winning it. But when it comes to the $1 million Dan David prize he is to receive in Tel Aviv on May 9 in the presence of Israeli prez Shimon Peres, our politically correct novelist is refusing to bow down to overwhelming calls from anti-Israeli intellectuals to reject the prize. In an open letter, Ghosh says he’s against embargoes and boycotts “where they concern matters of culture and learning”. And what about the Commonwealth prize? That wasn’t a boycott; he just “withdrew” his book as he “disagreed with the specific mandate of that prize”.

Johnny Be Good

Publishers have been eyeing the Chetan Bhagat phenomenon with longing and fear. A good part of his formula for selling in astounding numbers is to undersell his books at a suicidal Rs 99. Now, another publisher meets him on his turf: Karan Bajaj’s second book, Johnny Gone Down, will have a first print run of 50,000, the highest for fiction by HarperCollins so far. It means cutting the price by half, but with Bajaj sticking to his day job in the US, the fact that he’ll earn very little from the roylaties doesn’t seem to matter.

The Six Yard Itch

Most VIPs called to launch a book are aware of it: the book is so efficiently wrapped up that it takes long, awkward minutes in front of waiting cameras before it can be unwrapped. Struggling with the giftwrap that bound Annie Zaidi’s Known Turf, Mani Shankar Aiyer quipped: “It’s like undressing a reluctant girlfriend!”

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