Monday, Dec 05, 2022
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Lake Como Diary

Lake Como Diary

It’s a paradise on earth and Italians are simply the nicest people.

Heaven’s lake

Exalted company and beautiful surroundings; what could be better? Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, and to be there as part of the prestigious Motovun Group is a rare privilege. Twenty-five years ago, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the tiny booth set up by my publishing company was visited by two very famous names of publishing: Bato Tomasevic and Jurgen Braunshwieger. Bato was bringing the Manchester football team to Belgrade in 1958 at the behest of Marshal Tito, when their plane crashed in Munich. The entire team perished; Bato was one of two survivors. Jurgen, during the days when dissenting authors like Alexander Solzhenitsyn were exiled or jailed, would smuggle their manuscripts from jail to make their writings known to the world. The two men had invited me to join the prestigious Motovun Group. I could not then, because of India’s strict foreign exchange restrictions. But I accepted the offer in 1994. It was a dream and a singular honour. We meet each year to exchange views and motivate each other. This year, we met in Moltrasia, a small town caressed by the gentle waves of Lake Como. The Motovun Group has some legendary members, among them William Nygaard, a Norwegian publisher who received six bullets that were meant for Salman Rushdie. He was targeted for daring to publish the Norwegian edition of The Satanic Verses. The origins of the group are fascinating. Bato and Jurgen decided to put together an illustrated book called the Islands of Adriatic. To give a memorable and novel twist to the enterprise, they invited seven publishers to sail from one island to another in a wooden boat. At the end of the cruise, seven different editions of the book were signed and the Motovun Group Association was born.


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