Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Planters



Via If It's Hip, It's Here
Gartenkultur of Italy has found a way to repurpose and recycle old hardback books. By drilling all the way through a book (or a stack of books glued together) adding a mesh net and some dirt, they become planters. Succulents, bonsai trees and other small greenery can happily live in these novel homes.

The pages do not get wet when watered because each book is covered with an insulating material. If the plant dies, you can simply put in a new one.
View more pictures here.

Allowing Children to Choose What They Read


Via guardian.co.uk

Michael Norris, an American publishing expert, will release findings in the monthly Book Publishing Report next month which show that, despite the best intentions, it is well-meaning mothers and fathers who often stop their sons and daughters from picking up the reading habit.

"Parents have too much of a role in deciding which books their child is going to read," said Norris. "It is turning children off. They should let them choose."

First, he argues, reading should never be described with "work words" which make it seem like a chore. Too many families, Norris suggests, have fallen into the trap of stereotyping reading as a "good" activity and digital or online game playing as "bad". Instead, it is important to let reading become associated with pleasure and achievement, just as game playing is.

The second tip is to make sure children talk directly to a librarian or a bookseller, while parents stand well back. Looming over a child takes all the fun out of their discoveries, he says. Parents should allow children to choose their own reading material.

Norris's third tip for parents is that they do not attempt to limit books to one age range. "What we have found is that parents should not worry whether a title looks too young or too old for a child. If a book has caught their attention, then let them take it and make up their own mind."

It is also important, he added, for parents not to enthuse about books that they loved as children: "Parents often say, 'When when I was your age...', and it tends to put off children too."

He said that reading is a personal experience and should not be seen as part of a mass marketing operation.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Jasmic

Emerging Forums for Poetry

Via TheWeek

Ghalib would certainly approve. His Dilliwallahs may have forgotten him, but poetry manages to survive in his city. And poets are struggling with the same issues as Ghalib—with publishing, not drink. Though technology has come to their aid, they find it hard to sell.

However, forums have sprung up across cities in India, online and real, to promote the cause of poetry. Delhi Poetree is one such group dedicated to the revival of verse.

Far from Ghalib’s grave in Nizamuddin, amateur poets of the group hold their own version of the mushaira in a small room at Khan Market with the smell of coffee and cinnamon hanging in the air.

Delhi Poetree, founded by Amit Dahiyabadshah, aims to take verse out of stuffy academic institutions into the mainstream and hopes to bring back the romance of poetry. “We want poetry to be part of everyday life,’’ says Dahiyabadshah. “There is a crying need for people to destress and feel good about themselves. Our poetry aims to do that.”

Delhi is not the only city to have these tiny outlets for poetry. Two poets, four friends and a restaurant of hungry people was the start of a small poetry revolution in Mumbai, the city famous for its annual Kala Ghoda festival. The Bombay Elektrik Projekt (BEP) decided to give emerging poets a platform by following what seemed like a naïve thought, especially in the commercial capital of the country where “saleability’’ is an integral part of any project. “We had a poet who brief boxed and read his work,’’ says Sudeip Nair, one of the three men who started the BEP. “There was a guy who brought along a guitar. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Our concept is that you just have to come out and read it into the microphone,” says Nair.

The room for poetry on the shelf is still very slim. “Unfortunately, poetry remains pretty much invisible in mainstream English-language publishing,’’ says Ravi Singh, editor-in-chief and publisher of Penguin India. “The audience at poetry readings and slam nights may well be growing, but how many of them would actually buy a book of poems? The market is still unforgiving. It’s still the niche publisher and poetry groups that create and sustain the climate for poetry in English.”
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: surrealmuse

Events and Workshops

1. Dialogue Writing
The workshop is designed for children to introduce them to the art of dialogue writing.

It is important to have dialogues in a story. It is important to consider every aspect of dialogue, not only what people say, how much they say and to whom they say it. Some people encourage conversation while some block it, and the latter is a great way to cause conflict in your script. You can build up tension through clash of personalities as well as through action. In this session we will work towards creating realistic dialogues that add value to a story.

This workshop is for students in the age group of 10 to 14 years who want to try their hands at story writing.

Date: 1st May, 2010
Time: 4:30 - 6:30pm
Location: The Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, 36C, S.P. Mukherjee Road, Kolkata

This event has been organized by British Council, India.


2. Creating Characters
Characterisation consists of all the observable qualities of a human being – age, IQ, gender, style of speech, choices of home, car and clothes, education, occupation, personality, value and attitudes. All these traits put together makes each person unique. In this session we will work at creating characters for stories.

The workshop will familiarize the 6 to 9 year olds with the process by which authors create characters and they will be able to create an original character sketch. This fun, inspiring and supportive workshop will focus on the four fundamental methods of characterization.

This workshop is for students in the age group of 6 to 9 years who want to learn story writing.

The registration for the workshops is open now. Please contact the Customer Services Desk for registrations. You are welcome to contact us at 22825370 / 40074300 or email us at kolkata.customercare@in.britishcouncil.org for further details.

This event has been organized by British Council, India.

3. Workshop: Puppetry for Social Change (via an email sent by Chintan)

Learning Voyages is bringing to you yet another exciting media workshop in collaboration with Kat-Katha, that will explore the use of puppetry as a tool for social change.
This workshop is designed for youth facilitators, teachers, media professionals and young people themselves to learn how to create puppets and how to use them effectively to address issues of social justice with the youth of their community.
It is an 8 day non-residential workshop that will be held in South Delhi from 18th-25th June 2010. The program cost is Rs. 6600/-, which covers all workshop facilities, resource material and program facilitation.
I request you to nominate people from your programs who you think would benefit from this process and who would be interested in using this medium with young people.

The deadline for sending back the applications is 30th April 2010.
You can download the application here.

FriendsOfBooks Book Shot Campaign

Our friends at FriendsOfBooks have a fun contest on their Facebook page.
Here's a chance to get books worth Rs. 1000/- Free! Free! Free!

Join the FriendsOfBooks Book Shot campaign. Tell the world your love books and do it FoB style.

Its simple-

1. Click a photo of yourself or a friend reading a book, FoB style, just like the picture attached.
2. Post it on the FriendsOfBooks FaceBook Fan Page.
3. The photo that gets the maximum "Like" votes from visitors by May 7th , 2010, gets books of their choice worth Rs. 1000/- Free! from www.FriendsOfBooks.com

Don't have a Facebook account yet? No Sweat. Email us the picture at cs@friendsofbooks.com and we will post it for you.

You can see the Pratham Books photo entry here. This little fellow's smile is infectious... the joy of reading indeed! And if we win (*fingers crossed*), the books will go to some special people who you will find out about on this very space :).

Famous Book Rejections


Via Neatorama

I know, it’s that tired old advice your mom has always given you: quitters never prosper; if you fall off the horse, get back on; finish what you started. But these authors are proof that just because you get rejected by a publisher or two (or three or 27) doesn’t mean you don’t have a classic on your hands.

The same could be said about George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It also made Time’s list of best English-language books ever written, ranked in at #31 on the Modern Library’s List of Best 20th-Century Novels, and won retrospective Hugo award in 1996. But not only was Orwell’s classic written off (and completely misunderstood) by a publisher who noted, “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA,” Orwell’s peer and good friend T.S. Eliot was also less than impressed. Orwell sent a draft to Eliot, who responded that the writing was good, but the view was “not convincing” and that publishers would only accept the book if they had personal sympathy for the “Trotskyite” viewpoint.

Moving on to a modern classic, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Plenty of publishers took a gander at the Chosen One and decided not to choose him, including bigwigs like Penguin and HarperCollins. Jo Rowling finally decided to try a small London firm called Bloomsbury, who accepted only after the CEO’s eight-year-old daughter read the book and declared it a winner. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about all of the accolades and great commercial success that followed nearly immediately.

I’m not a big fan of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books myself, but there’s obviously an audience out there – there are now more than 105 titles under the Chicken Soup heading (including Chicken Soup for the Chiropractic Soul), they’ve been translated into 54 languages and there are more than 100 million copies in print. Who would have ever guessed that the book was turned down 33 times in a row before it found a willing publisher? Among the 33 rejections included gems like, “anthologies don’t sell,” and “too positive.”

Read about more book rejections here.

Image Source : D.so

Thursday, April 29, 2010

क्या मैं तुम्हें एक अच्छी किताब दूं? शौकिया पुस्तक कर्मियों के लिए एक किताब

Our friend Chintan Girish Modi wrote a review of the book क्या मैं तुम्हें एक अच्छी किताब दूं? शौकिया पुस्तक कर्मियों के लिए एक किताब (translated as Shall I Give You a Good Book? A Book for Amateur Book Activists) which he discovered on a trip to Varanasi.
They have put together an excellent resource for people who want to start community libraries in villages and small towns, or hold book exhibitions to create awareness about the vast amount of reading material that is available, or even run small bookshops.
Following that blog post, someone forwarded the mail to one of the authors T..Vijayendra. He got in touch with Chintan and informed him that a few people have actually started libraries and bookshops after reading the book. He also has a few copies of the book left and if someone wants the book, they can contact him (details here).

We asked Mr.Vijayendra if we could scan the book and share it with our readers. We were happy to learn that the book is under a copy left license. Mr.Vijayendra also said that they would be happy if some one took their work futher and people are also welcome to translate to book.

Suresh Kosaraju from Manchi Pustakam sent the book to our office and after that we got the book scanned to share with all of you. Our friends at Litent helped us with the scanning of this book (pssst: if you want to convert any files, data, books, archived materials into eFormats, try them out!).

And here's the book Chintan introduced all of us to...

Shall I Give You a Good Book?

Cool Kids Tackle a Hot Planet : Summer Workshop, Bangalore

Fresh from a phenomenally successful, energy filled workshop on combating climate change held for kids, ESG now announces another workshop for children. This time we prefer to call it “Cool Kids tackle a Hot Planet”.


Global warming and Climate Change are the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today and we need to help children understand the causes and impacts of our changing environment and how we contribute to it. It is time children learnt more about the many ways in which we can mitigate this environmental threat and be reassured that it is possible cool our planet. It is also time to understand and appreciate some of our traditional ways of living that are far more sustainable than the market driven consumerist lives that eventually lead to burning of more carbon. This workshop aims to provide an overview of the causes and consequences and explore the ways in which each of us can make a real difference.


The workshop is spread over five days and will include indoor and outdoor sessions that are filled with fun learning activities through films, field visits, stories, games and experiments. In addition to the impacts on environment and health, the workshop will help understand how it will affect our farming and food security. The workshop will take children through a learning journey to understand, appreciate and explore some of our traditional lifestyles that are environmentally, culturally and economically far more feasible through which we can reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Workshop Dates – May 3rd to 7th 2010
Time – 10 am to 4 pm (subject to change)
Venue- Environment Support Group
Cost per child: Rs. 1,500/-

Registrations Close on 01 May 2010

Contact: Sruthi/Bhargavi on phone (91-80-26713559-3561)

Email: sruthi@esgindia.org / bhargavi@esgindia.org

You can also see pictures from one of their previous workshops here.

(We received news about this event in an email sent to us by Chintan. Thank you Chintan! Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

Image Source

New Themes and New Titles : The Children's Publishing Industry in India

Via Time Out Delhi

Once every month, Rati Diwakar, an investment banker and a mother of three, contemplates a peculiar situation that she says did not exist “in her time”: there are just too many books for children. “Ever since I promised my kids a new book every month, we’ve ended up wasting whole hard-earned Sundays doing nothing but waiting at the coffee shop of the bookstore while they make up their minds about which book to pick up,” she said. You can’t blame the kids, though, because the city shelves are groaning under the weight of options, and picking one from the hundreds is no easy matter. “It was simpler for us,” said Sushant, Rati’s husband. “All we had to choose from were a bunch of the school series and the detective series. Plus our parents brought home the classics for us.”

The classics and the older series are still around, but pouring into the shelves with them is a deluge of new arrivals, the bulk of it still international titles, but an increasing number produced by homegrown talent. Supporting this new breed of Indian authors and illustrators are Indian publishers, Delhi-based Young Zubaan, Chennai-based Tulika and the Indian branches of international publishers.

At the same time, the category of kids’ books itself is being redefined. Many themes that were considered taboo for young readers, like violence, terrorism and sexuality, are being woven into young adult fiction (broadly for the 12+ age group).

Though many people fear that this generation is bored with the printed word, sales figures tell a very different story. “With our strong focus on children’s books, 23 per cent – as against 19 per cent three years ago – of our total sales comes from children’s books. Volume and value-wise, it’s at the top, the number one category,” said Sivaraman Balakrishnan, deputy marketing manager at Crossword Bookstores. Publis-hers have been quick to sense the changing tide. “Children’s books forms the second-largest category for most retail stores in India and it’s bound to only get better,” said Shobit Arya of Wisdom Tree, which is planning its entry into the kids’ market. “

In fact, despite the experiments with theme and style in some publishing quarters, the bulk of domestic children’s publishing reflects resistance to change. “A majority of books continue to be old hat – retellings, folktales, epics and legends, moral stories,” said Ghosh. “That will have to change. At a parallel level, parents and schools will have to realise that there are Indian writers writing for children, and actively seek out these books at bookstores.”
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Pratham Books

48 Hour Magazine

Via 48 Hour Magazine

...48 Hour Magazine, a raucous experiment in using new tools to erase media's old limits. As the name suggests, we're going to write, photograph, illustrate, design, edit, and ship a magazine in two days.

Here's how it works: Issue Zero begins May 7th. We'll unveil a theme and you'll have 24 hours to produce and submit your work. We'll take the next 24 to snip, mash and gild it. The end results will be a shiny website and a beautiful glossy paper magazine, delivered right to your old-fashioned mailbox. We promise it will be insane. Better yet, it might even work.
More details here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are you a book Nazi?


Long, long ago in a class of professional communications, I was asked to stand up and hold forth for a minute about my favourite book for one minute. Still in my teens and startled, I blurted out the first things I could think of about, ‘The Woman of Substance’, a book by Barbara Taylor Bradford.  While the professor thought my monologue was decent, I was greeted with loud sniggers from my batchmates. They later told me that one never admits to reading Barbara Taylor Bradford in public. It’s like saying that you like Mills and Boons or Danielle Steele. If someone ever catches sight of these books in your house, pretend that a friend that you don’t like very much left it there. Make no mistake that you are judged by what you read. I felt ashamed and victimized for my reading choices.
Recently, while talking to a friend’s eleven year old son, I was singing the praises of Potter and his chums, the Narnia series and even the Marvel comic series, when he told me that he did not care for any of them. “I’ve only read all the books from the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series and those are the only books I will ever read!” he emphatically told me. I was taken aback to put it lightly. I tried to sway him with snippets from Dahl and stories of secret islands. But he was one stubborn kid. I came home judging his parents for not pushing him to explore the wider world of children’s literature out there.
But the more I thought about it, I realized something. Somewhere between being shamed by my own reading choices and hiding the chick lit that I read and prominently displaying Shashi Tharoor and Pico Iyer on my bookshelf, I had become a Book Nazi. Someone who shunned people for reading books that were not considered to be on the top shelf of good literature and someone that aspired to be seen with only the best books signed out under her name in the local library. Like in a B-grade Hollywood movie, I had become that I had feared in college.
After all who am I to judge anyone? Our choices are what make you different from me and therefore make us interesting to each other.  While it’s always nice to have a common ground of conversation and books that we will bond with each other over, it’s the differences that bring us closer and make us open to new experiences, right? Which is why the next time I’m in a bookstore choosing books for my young cousins and nephews and nieces, I’ll be walking away from the usual picks and heading to the new releases section instead.
A brand-new story a day, should keep the Book Nazi in me, locked away!
What do you think?


Image source:


Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a journalist turned NGO activist turned Writer/Blogger/Author who finds bliss in traveling to places known and unknown! She blogs about life, travels and food here , here and here
And can be followed on twitter here






Travel With Words

Great use of typography in the 'Travel with words, meet the world' advertisements from Penguin Books. View more ads here.

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Teaching Kids About the Human Body



Spotted this gem on @uponafold 's Twitter stream. View more images on the Toys from Trash site.

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Making Alice for the iPad

Last week we shared the awesome 'Alice for iPad' video with our blog readers.



Atomic Antelope shares how this application for the iPad was made.

Via The Literary Platform

To make Alice for the iPad, we found an incredibly old copy of Alice in Wonderland and scanned the illustrations. We took these illustrations into Photoshop and cleaned them up extensively, bringing out the colour and detail of Tenniel’s original work for Lewis Carroll. We then painstakingly redrew scenes and characters, and added new illustrated objects that can move around the screen. The resulting layered Photoshop graphics were then imported into Apple’s Xcode software, where we added virtual gravity and physics to the characters and objects. The book uses data from the iPad’s accelerometer (a special circuit that senses velocity and orientation of the iPad) to figure out how objects topple around the screen. It’s the first time this technology has been applied in this way, and we’re overwhelmed by the reaction we’ve had. We’re the top-grossing children’s book on the iPad app store.

Tenniel’s illustrations and Carroll’s text for Alice in Wonderland entered the public domain decades ago, but largely lay dormant. We decided to use these amazing pictures, in some cases 145 years old, and place them in the most modern context imaginable.

Where it seems like a good idea to add physics interactivity to an existing book, it can be wonderful, — as long as narrative and aesthetic is preserved. There needs to be sensitivity to the story and the original illustrator. The temptation will naturally be to throw this technology at every book, but the craftsmanship behind implementing this technology is as important as the technology itself. It’s not a short-cut to “enhancing” a book for the digital age, and the power to create these books must be wielded as deftly and wisely as an illustrator’s pen.

Unisun Reliance TimeOut Writing Competition

Note: Please click on the above image for a larger view.

Find more information about the contest here. The last date for entries is 30th April, 2010.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rewind. Recap.

We've extended the dealine of the 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice with Chuskit contest' to 10th May, 2010. And to ensure you participate we have upped the prize! Besides the book hamper, the winner will also get a personal copy of the book. Yes, you heard it right, one printed copy just for you and with your name as the author!!!

Our friends at Inclusive Planet have also helped us make the contest more accessible for the print-impaired community.

We are happy to announce that our social publishing strategy won the IndiaSocial Case Challenge in the long term initiatives category and it is all because of YOU!

The summer holidays are here and if you are wondering what books to buy for your little bookworms, read some of the recent book reviews written by a few bloggers.

Nikita Tandon is our newest intern and she kickstarts her blogging experience with a post on how the connection between Pratham Books and her began much before her internship started.

The Indian government has proposed certain amendments to the Indian Copyright Act, which will have a far reaching and severely negative impact on the lives of millions of Indians who are visually impaired, dyslexic, have cerebral palsy, etc. You could help bring about a transformational change to the lives of about 70 million people in India and enable people to exercise their Right to Education and Right to Read.

Guest blogger Shweta Ganesh Kumar reminisces about the Enid Blyton books she read as a child and predicts that the grown-ups of tomorrow will be bonding over the joy of children's books too. The Open Library blog has an excellent article on how a library was set up in Uttarakhand. From categorizing the books to labelling them, from teaching children how to look after the books to generating an interest in reading - read about it all! William Kamkwamba's story about how reading about windmills in a book changed his and his community's life demonstrates the power of books. The Hyderabad Graphic Novel project hopes to produce a narrative incorporating lived, fictitious, and historical stories about and from the city of Hyderabad.

The Page Chaser is a flexible bookmark that automatically marks the page as you turn them. These story dice make for an fun and easy storytelling activity. Loving this illustration that captures the different worlds books introduce us to. Graphic designer Leigh-Anne Mullock's has created a great set of needlepoint Jane Austen book covers.

Meet 12-year-old Bharti Kumari who runs a school in her village. Vipul Thaker is another hero who has gone on from educating one child to educating many more and managing to rope in other schools to offer scholarship schemes for the children he was working with. You can read his story of educating the Rabari community here. Chintan Girish Modi writes a beautiful post about his visit to Tilonia's Barefoot College. I-Support Fellowship is an initiative designed to connect NGOs with professionals. It aims to use professional expertise to solve some long standing issues of NGOs.

We also submitted our photographs for Tulika's third blogathon which invited people to share pictures on the topic of cricket. Since we are on the topic of cricket, take a look to see which cricketer was reading one of our books recently.

Sangam House Writer's Residency Program invites approximately twenty writers to live and work on the Adishakti property outside Pondicherry. The deadline for submission of applications is 30th June, 2010.
Penguin Books India is conducting 'The Ash & Tara and the Emerald Dagger Online Treasure Hunt' for children below 18 years. Send in your stories for the 'Chicken Soup for the Indian Golden Soul' and 'Chicken Soup for the Indian Father's Soul' by 30th May, 2010.

Bangaloreans, mark your calendars because a sock puppet workshop is being held on 22nd and 23rd May, 2010. A Children's Film Festival is being held in Mumbai. View the schedule here. The students of CSIM, Bangalore, are organizing “Learn your way”, an awareness campaign for encouraging Open Schooling in Bangalore. The event will take place on 5th May, 2010.

We've got two videos lined up for you : The amazing 'Alice in Wonderland' application makes the book come alive for iPad users and the creative flipbook video created for the Singapore Book Exchange 2010 advertisement.

Image Source : xenotropic

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Season of Book Reviews

The summer holidays are here and if you are wondering what books to buy for your little bookworms, read some of the recent book reviews written by a few bloggers.

The book Raja Nang Dhadanga was picked out by Vibha Sharma when Saffron Tree members were asked to choose contemporary books set in verses/rhymes/poetry collections that their children had enjoyed listening to, or any poets/poems they themselves were inspired by growing up. (via Saffron Tree)
I have /heard/read/told this story many times as a child and now as a parent while watching my children growing up but when I saw this story retold in verse, I had to pick it up. Read it to my children and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
A king who is befooled into wearing a dress which is visible only to 'people with brains' !!
Choxbox reviews our book 'Handmade in India' (via Saffron Tree)
The book in question is a travelogue of sorts - Fraser takes us on a delightful journey around the various states of the country and gives us a glimpse of some of the many things that are handmade in India. The illustrations are each a work of art.

In the hills of Himachal Pradesh she met two women who were spinning wool and knitting it. She tells us in detail what the women are doing, and on top of the page is an outline of India with the state highlighted. The corresponding full page illustration shows two women in traditional garb made of the wool similar to what they are working on and surrounded by sheep.

I showed it to a friend and she loved it as expected. She did not know how much it cost and when asked how much she would be willing to buy it for, said between two and three hundred rupees. Well the book is priced at a tenth of that, so go get a copy!
Read the entire review here.

Story Revolution reviews the 'Once Upon A Time An India Series' (history series)

Dhani longs to join Gandhiji on the Dandi march, but his father says he is too young to walk the distance. Can the adamant young boy convince Gandhiji to let him go along?

This is 'Marching to Freedom', one of the books in the series published by Pratham Books, written by Subhadra Sen Gupta and illustrated by Tapas Gupta.

There are four books, and each tells a story that stands alone -- interesting, exciting, original, always with a little twist at the end. They are set in different periods of Indian history, and bring detail alive -- clothing, architecture, culture are all woven effortlessly into the story.
You can buy all these books and more from our website.

Needlepoint Jane Austen Book Covers

Via Cool Hunting

Channeling Jane Austen's characters by imagining their creative leanings in needlepoint, graphic designer Leigh-Anne Mullock's conceptual cover illustrations offer winsome and eye-catching alternative to the traditional oil-painting portraits found on the jackets of so many literary greats.

As a self-declared "dorky Jane Austen fan," Mullock felt that the various imagery currently gracing Austen's novels didn't serve justice to the wit and charm of the author's writing. Before setting needle to cloth, she dreamed up what each story's protagonist might have been inspired to stitch, resulting in original graphics for Austen's "Mansfield Park" and "Pride and Prejudice."

Agatha Christie's Writing Method

Via Slate (via @bubblecow)

She was clever, learned, and unflinching when it came to plunging a paper knife into a man's back or poisoning an old lady with strychnine. Agatha Christie, the author of more than 60 crime novels, six straight novels, more than 140 short stories, 22 plays, and uncounted poems, wrote with matchless poise about death, greed, and, on occasion, truly nasty, motiveless evil.

The Christie trick—pulled off again and again, starting in 1920 and ending only shortly before she died in 1976—was that her types weren't always predictable in the way you first assumed. You could never guess the murderers until she unveiled them, and then you had that fantastic sensation of surprise and—at the same time—utter inevitability.

What, then, could be more shocking than to discover that the dame was no lady? Agatha didn't sit at a pristine desk neatly typing her novels, Chapter 1 followed by Chapter 2, and so on, before donning gloves and descending at 6 p.m. for a sherry. In Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks, John Curran, a Christie expert who has trawled through 73 of the author's previously unread notebooks, reveals the utter derangement in Christie's method.

Her less-than-refined writerly day began with finding her notebook, which surely she'd left right there. Then, having found a notebook (not the one she'd used yesterday), and staring in stunned amazement at the illegible chicken scratchings therein, she would finally settle down to jab at elusive characters and oil creaky plots. Most astonishing, Curran discovers that for all her assured skewering of human character in a finished novel, sometimes when Christie started her books, even she didn't know who the murderer was.

The notebooks contain thousands of ideas, many dated years before the work they appeared in was finished, few of them consecutive, since she scribbled in whichever was nearest to hand. At any one time, Christie would have half a dozen notebooks going.

Christie's promiscuous note-taking meant that any one novel or play might be distributed over multiple notebooks and many, many years. Christie used Notebook 3 for at least 17 years and 17 novels. The other notebooks were more or less like this; only five notebooks deal with a single title (three notebooks contain only chemical formulae, the last notebook is blank). There's some evidence that Christie tried to take charge of the pile, listing the contents at the start of one notebook. For some novels, she tried to impose method on her chaotic practice, assigning letters to scenes and moving them around. But her efforts at organization petered out pretty quickly.

How on earth did Christie draw her perfectly tensioned structures from this formless mess?
Read the entire article to find out.

Image Source : kennymatic

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Parenting Workshop – How Children Learn & Develop


Great event for Parents at XSEED Preschool on Sarjapur Road, opp Wipro Corp Office.

Presenter : Dr. Tapaswini Sahu, Ph.D in Psychology, M.Phil from Cambridge University

Date : 24 April 2010, Saturday at 4pm – 6:30 pm

Venue: Ittina Soupernike Apartment, Kaikundrahalli, Sarjapur Road, Bangalore

Limited Seats, Call for Free Registration on 42128129 / 9845723200 / 9845467575

(Via Sarjapur Road)

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Chuskit Contest Now Accessible to the Print-Impaired People - Thanks to Inclusive Planet


Last week we extended the deadline of our 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice with Chuskit' contest to 10th May, 2010. After that, we wondered if we could make this contest accessible to more people and allow them to enter this contest as well as have an opportunity to create one more book for the world.

And that is where our friends at Inclusive Planet stepped in. Inclusive planet is a social venture with a very simple yet powerful agenda - to engage smart minds across the world to create scalable technology-led solutions to challenges faced by people with disabilities.

In a few days, we had created a Pratham Books channel, got our editor to write descriptions of the images so that people who could not see the image could read it and then the Inclusive Planet team patiently helped us set it all up on our channel. Their technical team has helped us load all the images on the page and the descriptive text has been embedded so that it can be read out by screenreaders.

Please pass on the message to anyone you may know who is print-impaired but would love to enter this contest. Thanks to Inclusive Planet, this is now possible!

The contest details can be found here.

(A big thank you to Simon Jacob, Ujjvala Ballal and the Inclusive Planet's technical team).

Children's Film Festival, Mumbai

Venue: American Center Auditorium

Entry: Free of Charge, first-come, first-served

Children under age 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian

Saturday, April 24 -- 11 a.m. -- FernGully –The Last Rainforest – 76 mins
Age: 6+
Director: Bill Kroyer © 2001
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Family | Fantasy
FernGully - The Last Rainforest
The fairy people of FernGully have never seen humans before, but when Christa sees one, Zak, she accidentally shrinks him down to her size. But there is trouble in FernGully, for Zak is part of a logging team who is there to cut down the forest.
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Friday, April 30 -- 2 p.m. -- Born Free – 95 mins
Age: 6+
Director: James Hill © 2003
Genre: Family | Drama | Adventure

Born Free
Joy Adamson and her husband, Kenya game warden George Adamson, raise Elsa, a lion cub. When Elsa approaches maturity, Joy determines she must re-educate Elsa to living in the wild so that the lioness can return to a free life.
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Saturday, May 8 -- 11 a.m. -- Dumbo – 64 mins
Age: 6+
Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Genre: Animation | Family | Music

Dumbo
The stork delivers a baby elephant to Mrs Jumbo, veteran of the circus, but the newborn is ridiculed because of his truly enormous ears and dubbed "Dumbo". Dumbo is relegated to the circus' clown acts; it is up to his only friend, a mouse, to assist Dumbo to achieve his full potential.
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Saturday, May 15 -- 11 a.m. -- The Aristocats – 78 min
Age: 6+
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman © 2008
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Family | Music

The Aristocats
The beloved, pampered housecat of a retired opera star in 1910 Paris finds herself stranded in the countryside with her three children, the victims of a plot by their owner's butler to cheat them out of a huge inheritance. They must find their way back to their home and owner, with the help of an independent-minded tomcat and other animal accomplices, while evading the butler and foiling his plan.
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Saturday, May 22 -- 11 a.m. -- The Wizard of Oz – 101 mins
Age: 6+
Director: Victor Fleming (Motion picture: 1925) © 2001
Genre: Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Musical

Wizard of Oz
In this charming film based on the popular L. Frank Baum stories, Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught in a tornado's path and somehow end up in the land of Oz. Here she meets some memorable friends and foes in her journey to meet the Wizard of Oz who everyone says can help her return home and possibly grant her new friends their goals of a brain, heart and courage.
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Saturday, May 29 -- 11 a.m. -- ET -The Extra-Terrestrial – 115 mins
Age: 6+
Director: Steven Spielberg © 1982
Genre: Adventure | Drama | Family | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial
Elliot is your normal boy, until one day, when he meets a little lost alien. Elliot decides to keep the alien, in which he gives the name E.T. Elliot works with E.T. in trying to find him a way to get back home. Elliot must make the difficult sacrifice. Whether to help his new friend or to lose him? Whatever the decision is, Elliot must keep him hidden, as someone else is out to look for him.


(We received news about this event in an email sent to us by Chintan. Thank you Chintan! Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

Interning with Pratham Books : Nikita Tandon

Nikita Tandon is our newest intern and will be working with the our social media and communications team for a month. Nikita is a communications student studying at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. A love for the outdoors, wildlife and nature, Nikita is interested in doing something in the field of animal rights. She also loves working with children. Nikita kickstarts her blogging experience with the following post on how the connection between Pratham Books and her began much before her internship started.

I am on a four week internship with Pratham Books and I have already learned so much. For starters I learned that Pratham Books has the best variety of books that will catch any ones attention (even a non-reader like me) ! Going through the amazing books I came across the book about Mathama Gandhi - which I feel should be made part of the CBSE curriculum as it is so insightful and colourful and has important dates clearly listed in the end! Each event is under a different heading and very well explained. So much better that those dull history books!

As a part of the community service programme conducted by my high school, we used to go teach children from the slums. They were all keen on learning and were in love with the book. Guess which books they were? Books by Pratham books! They just loved the illustrations and the pictures! They found it easier to read because of the pictures as they acted as cues for the words. The books were very popular amongst the kids.

That’s not all ... I also worked with Mathru Blind school in Yelahanaka for a while. There also I found that Pratham Books was very popular. They also converted the books into Braille and audio tapes of the books.

So coming to think of it... I have been linked to Pratham books for a while and now I am interning with them. This feels really great as I loved teaching the children and reading the books with them. If I had been exposed to these books earlier I would surely have taken a liking towards reading =).

Also I have realised that Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and other social networks are so effective in building communities. They are not just about chatting and networking but they have so much more to offer. After hearing the stories about Pratham Books I have realised there are no limits. Anything is possible!

The Stars of Tilonia : A Visit to the Barefoot College

Chintan Girish Modi writes a beautiful post about his visit to Tilonia's Barefoot College.

Via Teacher Plus
The stars that welcomed me into Tilonia were so close I felt they were looking back at me. Had I watched their warmth slowly waft into my eyes, I might have seen a glimpse of what Tilonia held for me in the three days I was to spend there.

Barefoot College, which was started by Bunker Roy in 1972, has done exemplary work in generating solar energy, propagating its use, and training people from disadvantaged communities in India and other parts of the world to benefit from this alternative energy source.

My favourite part of the first day was meeting Maangi bai. She has never been to school, but trains young girls to use computers.

Maangi bai knows hardly any English, but has taught herself to use the English keyboard. A cardboard chart by her side shows the correspondences between the Devanagari (Hindi) alphabet and the English characters. Maangi bai also trains women from poor African countries to use the computer. The African women know a bit of English; Maangi bai speaks only Hindi and Marwari, but she has taught herself to use the computer. Here too one discerns a wonderful synergy. The African women pick up computer skills; Maangi bai picks up a bit of English. When spoken language seems a hurdle, Maangi bai simply uses her finger to point out where the cursor should be moved using the mouse.

I also enjoyed the kabaad-se-jugaad section very much. So ingenious! Shapes of numbers and letters of the alphabet cut out from discarded slippers. Boxes, toothpaste tubes, and other things that are usually chucked into the trash of urban households were being shaped into toys for night schools and village crèches. Torn files and folders being refashioned into dustbins. Old newspapers being recycled into eco-friendly bags. Scrap cloth from the handicrafts unit being used to make attractive covers for notepads.

At the wood work section, I saw this interesting balance/weighing scale with a stand in the middle, and digits from 1 to 10 on either side. On one side, a metal ring was placed on number 10. On the other side, one could try varying combinations of numbers that would add up to 10. For example: 4+6, 5+5, 3+7, etc. If the chosen numbers did not add up to 10, the scale would tilt to one side, and not be balanced. This can be used as a learning aid in schools, especially to teach addition of numbers. The teacher need not be physically present around the student at all times; the student can check for himself if he/she has added correctly or not.

While I found myself getting interested in much of what was happening at Barefoot College, I wished to explore more in the area of education, particularly their night school programme.

First, we visited a balwadi at Mordi Khurd village, where children between the ages of one to five learn about health and hygiene, sing songs, play games, participate in physical exercises, and spend time doing whatever else they like, under the supervision of a teacher identified from within the community and trained by Barefoot College.

Our next stop was a school in Naanan village, where we came across another bunch of girls busy with their sewing machines. There we met Salma who has previously been Health Minister in the Children’s Parliament, an initiative that grew out of the night school programme, aiming to introduce children to the electoral process and allowing them to experience democracy in a real, alive manner through collective decision-making and accountability. The members of this Parliament are elected by the night school children from among themselves. Salma shares how members of Parliament make visits to schools in other areas, take notes about things that need improvement, give warnings to irregular teachers, and share their observations from visits in meetings with other members.

The evening was spent with children at Singla where the education office of Barefoot College operates from. They’ve been enrolled for a six-month residential ‘bridge course’ meant for children who left school after Standard 1 or 2, but are now keen on getting back to studies. A special set of books produced for the night schools (integrating art, math, language, and environmental studies) shared space with bilingual books from Tulika Publishers and simple stories from Pratham Books.

Our last stop for the day was a night school at Thal village, the most memorable experience of my visit to Barefoot College. This is one of around 150 night schools run by Barefoot College in the numerous villages of Rajasthan. It starts at 6 pm and ends at 9 pm. Most of the children who come here are girls, since boys do get the chance to go to day schools. Rameshwarji asks the children to tell me what they do during the day. Some spend their day grazing goats, sheep or cows. Others have to chase away peacocks that threaten to disturb their crop. Yet others, especially girls, stay home to take care of younger siblings. It was amazing to see their energy and enthusiasm at the end of the day. The night holds a special meaning in their lives. It is when the solar lanterns in their little room spread light on the wall, and the ground they sit on. A time for them to sit with children their own age, when laughter passes around quite playfully, unstressed by the chores that tomorrow will bring. I am reminded of the stars that welcomed me into Tilonia. I can see them again in these eyes.
Read the entire article to learn about the other initiatives being undertaken by the Barefoot College.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Different Worlds

*moonywolf beautifully captures the different worlds books introduce us to in her work titled 'small world'. (via @weheartbooks).

(Note: Click on the image for a larger view)

"Learn, your way" Awareness campaign


Via Upcoming

The students of CSIM, Bangalore, are organizing “Learn your way”, an awareness campaign for encouraging Open Schooling in Bangalore. This is an event to sensitize parents, teachers, children and adolescents towards the open schooling concept for a stress free education.

For years now, it has been widely recognized that the mainstream education system in our country is producing more dropouts every year than successful candidates, for various reasons. The recent spate of student suicides in the metro cities has jolted us and made us painfully aware that it is time for the citizens to wake up and act.

And there do exist solutions to these problems. One of them is a parallel system, fully recognized by the Government of India, which caters to the varying levels of intelligence and needs of a child. Through the National Open Schooling system, the largest system of alternate education anywhere in the world, a child can complete education at his/her own pace, with subjects of his/her own choice.

Our objective is to create awareness about the existence of this alternate schooling system, so that our children who are unable to cope with mainstream education system know there is no hope lost – just because they have to drop out of school, does not mean that they have to drop out of life.

We are planning an orchestrated campaign with events like street plays and rallies, culminating in seminars, radio shows and other media events, all designed to promote this system of alternate education.

We request your whole-hearted support for this noble cause. You may contribute in terms of volunteer support and sponsorships and in any other way which will endorse our view that open schooling is a means to open minds and hearts.
Website: http://openskool.wordpress.com

This event is on 5th May, 2010 at 10 am at Cubbon Park, Bangalore.

Vipul Thaker : Educating the Rabari Community

Via The Better India

This article is dedicated to one of the many unsung heroes bringing about a change. His name is Vipul Thaker, a simple man with simple dreams. Without going into his background, let me start from one of his birthdays. It was on that day when he decided he wanted to do something different. He decided to educate a Rabari (a tribe in Gujarat) child. A makeshift classroom was created on the terrace of his two bedroom house. As days passed by, Vipul went on to explore the talent in the slum surrounding his housing society. A few more students joined his class and subsequently the classroom was shifted to a light post on a nearby road. His class had no roof and was hence exposed to the harsh elements of the weather. The classes went on nevertheless. Every evening at around 09.00 pm the class would commence.

Within one year Vipul had around twenty children who worked in the day time and regularly attended his evening classes.

Looking at the progress of this informal school, the parents who belonged to the Rabari community came to his aid. They gifted Vipul with an empty hut to which the classes now moved. Of all the problems that Vipul faced, one was that of gender discrimination. The girls were not allowed to study. After much persuasion from Vipul, the parents were convinced and the girls walked in for the very first time. Within a month their strength doubled.

Vipul had a dream to nurture – he wanted every child to get education on par with what their more privileged peers got. He negotiated with the private school principals, head masters, teachers and finally led to the introduction of a scholarship scheme. And so today out of forty students, around twenty five of them have been admitted to a school with better amenities for the students.
Read the entire article here.

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Who Reads Our Books? At Times...Cricketers Do!


Spot the book... spot the book....

Yes, that is right! There's Harbhajan Singh reading from our book Rumniya at an event being conducted by Pratham and Mumbai Indians.

You can also read a review of the book by ChoxBox here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

12-year-old Girl Takes on the Role of Running a School

Many of you may remember the story of Babar Ali - the 16-year-old boy who was running a school in his family's backyard. Now, meet 12-year-old Bharti Kumari who is sharing the knowledge she receives from school by teaching other children.

Via Times Online

As an infant, Bharti Kumari was abandoned at a railway station in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states. Now, at the age of 12, she has become the head teacher at a school in Kusumbhara, her adopted village.

Every morning and evening, under the shade of a mango tree, she teaches Hindi, English and Maths to 50 village children who would otherwise receive no education.

In between, she attends a state school in Akhodhi Gola, a two-mile walk away. Dressed proudly in her school uniform, she passes on the knowledge gleaned from her lessons to the village children, aged between four and 10, in her own class.

“I have a long day. My school is from 10am to 3pm and I study late,” she said. “This is what I love doing. I enjoy teaching children their ABCs as well as the Hindi alphabets.”

Kusumbhara is a poverty-stricken village 87 miles from Patna, the state capital. Most families are Dalits, India’s lowest social group, and they live in fear of Maoist insurgents waging a terror campaign against the security forces.

In the past four months 30 schools and community buildings have been blown up by the rebels. “How will we get educated if we’re scared?” asked Bharti, appealing to the government to build a proper school in the village.

Read the entire article here.

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Inviting Stories for Chicken Soup for the Indian Golden Soul and Chicken Soup for the Indian Father's Soul


Inviting stories for Chicken Soup for the Indian Golden Soul
(stories of people 60 and above)


Publishing house: Westland

Try and state specific episodes as to why you think that the person you are writing about deserves to be in the Chicken soup series.

Please send your stories to: rakshabharadia@gmail.com

Last dates for accepting submissions: May 30th 2010. But do try and send your stories ASAP as the entries will close once they've received 101 stories.

The write-ups will carry the contributor’s name. Westland pays Rs 1000 per story and two copies of the book. We carry a 3-4 line profile on all contributing authors. We accept blogged and published work too provided the authors get the reprint permissions. The copyright of the stories stay with the author.

Recipe for a Chicken Soup for the Indian Golden Soul

A Chicken Soup for the Soul® story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are personal and often filled with emotion and drama.

Chicken Soup stories have a beginning, middle and an ending that often closes with a punch, creating emotion rather than simply talking about it. A story that causes tears, laughter, goosebumps or any combination of these. A good story covers the range of human emotions. The most powerful stories are about people extending themselves, or performing an act of love, service or courage for another person.

Guidelines

1. Tell an exciting, sad or funny story about something that has happened to you or someone you know. Make sure that you introduce the character(s).

2. Tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh or get goose bumps (the good kind!) Don’t leave anything out — how did you feel?

3. The story should start with action; it should include a problem, issue or situation. It should include dialogue and the character should express their feelings though the conflict or situation. It should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change or pay-off.

4. Above all, let it come from your HEART! Your story is important!


Story Specifications

Stories should be non-fiction, ranging in length between 300-1200 words.

Chapters/Themes

Staying young at heart
Sharing with others
Across the generations
Celebrating life
Still learning
On love
On overcoming
A matter of perspective
On believing
Living your dream
Reminiscing
Ageless wisdom
Letting Go

Inviting stories for Chicken Soup for the Indian Father’s Soul

Publishing house: Westland

One does not need to be a father to write for the same. You can write about your father, husband (in the father’s role) or a friend who has done an exceptional job of it.

Try and state specific episodes as to why you think that the person you are writing about deserves to be in the Chicken soup series.

Please send your stories to: rakshabharadia@gmail.com

Last dates for accepting submissions: May 30th 2010. But do try and send your stories ASAP as the entries will close once they've received 101 stories.

The write-ups will carry the contributor’s name. Westland pays Rs 1000 per story and two copies of the book. We carry a 3-4 line profile on all contributing authors. We accept blogged and published work too provided the authors get the reprint permissions. The copyright of the stories stay with the author.

Recipe for a Chicken Soup for the Indian Father’s Soul

A Chicken Soup for the Soul® story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are personal and often filled with emotion and drama.

Chicken Soup stories have a beginning, middle and an ending that often closes with a punch, creating emotion rather than simply talking about it. A story that causes tears, laughter, goosebumps or any combination of these. A good story covers the range of human emotions. The most powerful stories are about people extending themselves, or performing an act of love, service or courage for another person.

Guidelines

1. Tell an exciting, sad or funny story about something that has happened to you or someone you know. Make sure that you introduce the character(s).

2. Tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh or get goose bumps (the good kind!) Don’t leave anything out — how did you feel?

3. The story should start with action; it should include a problem, issue or situation. It should include dialogue and the character should express their feelings though the conflict or situation. It should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change or pay-off.

4. Above all, let it come from your HEART! Your story is important!


Story Specifications

Stories should be non-fiction, ranging in length between 300-1200 words.

Chapters/Themes

Fatherhood
Sports, vacations and other adventures
Rites of passage
Balancing work and family
Special moments
Overcoming obstacles
Father’s wisdom
Becoming a father
On Love
On A father’s guiding Hand
Miracles
Letting Go
A grandfather’s love
Thank you dad

(Thanks for sending us the above information Chintan! Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan Girish Modi manages)

Image Source: seeveeaar

The Page Chaser Bookmark


Via Yanko Design

The Page Chaser is a flexible bookmark that automatically marks the page as you turn them. Ordinary bookmarks can fall out and require you to correctly mark where you left off. Why waste all that precious brain power on something so mundane? The Page Chaser catches every page as you turn. It’s an incredibly simply design that never falls out. Cheap, easy to manufacture, and handy.
Find more sketches of the bookmark here.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Hyderabad Graphic Novel Project


Via Hyderabad Graphic Novel Project (via @tulikabooks)

Hyderabad is several cities in one, cities which are contradictory and complementary, cities which extend and exist in dislocations of space and time. The Hyderabad Graphic Novel Project is part of Yugantar’s ‘Archive Hyderabad’ initiative. Our attempt is to capture the stories and images of Hyderabad – to approximate a ‘Memory of the City’ and create an archival clearing house.

The Hyderabad Graphic Novel project is the brainchild of Jasraman Grewal and Jai Undurti of Yugantar, a Hyderabad-based NGO.

In our concept note, we called Hyderabad a city in argument with itself. We hope to produce a narrative incorporating lived, fictitious, and historical stories about and from the city of Hyderabad.

You can read the first issue (“Late Cretaceous Incident”) of the project here or download it from here.

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Book Readings and Book Launch in Bangalore and Hyderabad

Book launch, Hyderabad: "Regaining Paradise. Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Society"

The launch of “Regaining Paradise . Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Society…” by T. J. Vijayendra

Introduced by Uma Maheshwari

ON: 20th April, 18:00hrs

At: Goethe – Zentrum Hyderabad

In view of the International Earth Day on 22nd of April, Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad is conducting an Environmental Week, where various events around the theme of environment and nature are conducted. To kick start this series of awareness activities, we launch a book on the theme: Regaining Paradise .

Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Society, by T. J. Vijayendra, an ex-engineer who abandoned his former life to dedicate himself to farming. To discover why Vijayendra sustains that “we aren’t ready to be free yet”, join us in a lively presentation and debate on the theme.

(We received news about this event in an email sent to us by Chintan. Thank you Chintan! Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

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Book Readings and Panel Discussion : Swedish Crime Fiction: The Renewal and Redefining of a Literary Genre

Via Blaftatronic Halwa
If you are in Bangalore on Wednesday April 21 at 6.30pm, don't miss this event at the Crossword Bookshop, Residency Road, Bengaluru.

Håkan Nesser, author of the internationally bestselling series about Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, that include titles such as The Mind’s Eye, Borkmann’s Point, and Woman with Birthmark (Pan Macmillan); together with Zac O’Yeah, author of the forthcoming Once Upon A Time In Scandinavistan (Hachette India).

The readings will be followed by a unique panel discussion on modern crime fiction, featuring Sudarshan Purohit, literary critic and translator of Surender Mohan Pathak’s bestselling Hindi novels The 65 Lakh Heist and Daylight Robbery (Blaft Publications), as a moderating panelist.

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