Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Children’s Literature from India and the Indian diaspora




Via PaperTigers
The new issue of PaperTigers is live, with a focus on Children’s Literature from India and the Indian diaspora and the many ways in which it has changed over the years.

The children’s literature being produced in India nowadays includes much more than just stories and folktales rich in morals and traditions. The output of its writers and illustrators in a variety of genres and in a plethora of languages reflects India’s complex and ever-changing multilingual society. They also break through and go beyond long-standing gender, cultural and social stereotypes. The unique challenges and opportunities Indian children’s book creators face–or those in the diaspora writing about India–help create what one of our interviewees poetically calls the “rainbow-colored horizon” of Indian children’s literature.

We hope the featured interviews, reviews, gallery features and point of views will help spread the good news of India’s many voices speaking to children, and contribute to making them heard and treasured not only within but also beyond their country.

We will also be focusing on children’s literature from/about India here on the blog until the end of November, so please share your own views, favorite books, etc. We look forward to your joining our conversation!

The issue also features an interview with Manisha Chaudhry, Head of Content Development at Pratham Books.

Indian publishers have been criticized in the past for putting out only safe titles, such as retellings of traditional stories and animal tales that impart life lessons and morals. From where you stand, how would you describe the breadth and depth of India’s children’s and YA literature nowadays?

From where we stand, we see a rainbow-coloured horizon.

Children’s publishing in India is poised for growth in every way. With education becoming a priority area, the demand for books for the growing population of young people can only go up.

Traditional retellings have been staple fare for publishers for their very small children’s lists as they are ‘safe’ and they don’t have to worry about copyright. More publishers are becoming willing to publish new authors, experiment with new formats, and find synergy with other media that are competing for the mind- space of the urban child. Maybe future books will be inspired by gaming and more merchandise will be inspired by books. Marketing will remain important in creating a positive buzz around books and reading. Books will influence TV and films and in turn be influenced by them. Comics and graphic formats seem poised for the great leap forward. Young Adult Fiction will have a permeable boundary with Adult Fiction.

Production standards for children’s books will improve as there will be greater exposure to well-produced books world-wide. The internet will create new ways to read and share and peer-review books. It may also enable many new talents to emerge as more people will be able to put up their work online.

From where we stand, we have to make sure that our Indian languages participate fully in this process. We have a distinctive ‘Indian’ presence and we want the reader in Indian languages to pass effortlessly from the echoing corridors of our oral tradition to a space where there are enough books to choose from, ranging from her grandmother’s tales to science fiction.

You can read the entire interview here.

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