M.Venkatesh on the bold steps being taken by English-language publishers in India by bringing LGBT-themed books for young adults into the market.
Dhar’s next book, Slightly Burnt, to be published by Bloomsbury in December, is about a teenage girl and her best friend. “It’s a story about understanding what it means to be different,” says Dhar. Other publishers and authors are also looking at the genre with interest.
Duckbill Books has planned a November launch for its first LGBT-themed YA book, Talking Of Muskaan. Written by Himanjali Sankar, it has an LGBT theme. “But it also has other interesting ideas woven into it,” points out Sayoni Basu, publisher, Duckbill Books.
YA is where most new LGBT fiction is appearing, probably because young adulthood is a time when people find out about themselves—who they are, and who they are attracted to. It could be an eye-opener for readers as well—reading about similar situations may help them feel less alone and less likely to condemn and bully other young people who may be different. “LGBT children are invisible and unacknowledged in our society and it’s about time they got even a teeny hint that they are not alone,” says Dhar.
“With increasing awareness of LGBT issues, it is but natural that such themes will be reflected in books for children, pre-teens and teens. What matters is how sensitively and imaginatively such issues are dealt with,” points out Radhika Menon, publisher, Tulika Books. Another Tulika title, Mayil Will Not Be Quiet, is a diary of a 12-year-old girl who talks about all the things that she is concerned or curious about, including gay relationships. “As publishers,” says Menon, “we don’t believe in taboos in children’s books.” Others might, though.
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