Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Pinch of Masala: Indian Literatures at a Glance

 ‘The Publishing landscape, in terms of our awareness of bookstores in India, has always been very fragmented, with publishers completely out of sync with non-Metro/A-towns. This “Trade Shop” Census Study will be a critical first step for us to rediscover our markets and work with them better in future. A terrific job of data collection by Nielsen.’ -     Thomas Abraham, Managing Director Hachette India

 ‘It is no secret that my childhood was in Bombay...But you fall in love with particular cities at a particular point in time. Mumbai is not Bombay. It just happens to be the same place.’ - Salman Rushdie, 3-time Booker Prize winner

Indian Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy receiving the Norman Mailer Prize (USA)

Let’s start with a general overview of the Indian literary landscape from India, a guidebook published by Lonely Planet[1]:

India has a long tradition of Sanskrit literature, although works in the vernacular have contributed to a particularly rich legacy. In fact, it is claimed there are as many literary traditions as there are written languages. Bengalis are traditionally credited with producing some of India’s most celebrated literature, a movement often referred to as the Indian or Bengal Renaissance, which flourished from the 19th century with works by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. But the man who is to this day most credited with propelling India’s culture greatness to the world stage is the Bengali Rabindranath Tagore.

India boasts of an ever-growing list of internationally acclaimed authors. Some particularly prominent authors include Vikram Seth, best known for his award-winning epic novel A Suitable Boy, and Amitav Ghosh, who has won a number of accolades; his Sea of Poppies was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize. Indeed, recent years have seen a number of Indian authors win the prestigious Man Booker Prize, the most recent being Aravind Adiga, who won in 2008 for his debut novel White Tiger. The prize went to Kiran Desai in 2006 for The Inheritance of Loss; Kiran Desai is the daughter of the award-winning Indian novelist Anita Desai, who has thrice been a Booker nominee. In 1997, Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things[2], while Salman Rushdie took this coveted award in 1981 for Midnight’s Children.        

Trinidad-born writer V.S. Naipul has written widely about India and won many notable awards including the Booker Prize (1971) and the Nobel Prize in Literature (2001).

 A peek into book trends in India from a Hindu Times article titled ‘The Art of Sealing the Deal’, written by Radhika Santhanam:

India has also been seeing significant changes, perhaps more than anything the West has seen, especially in the last ten years, says Ananth Padmanabhan, CEO of HarperCollins India. The meteoric rise of commercial fiction spurred by authors such as Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Nikita Singh, and Ravinder Singh has been taking place even as its highbrow counterpart, the literary novel, has been hobbling along. This meant a shift in the readership base too — the new readers seeking accessible entertaining reads were 18-25 year olds, says Padmanabhan. He calls them the ‘reluctant readers’. ‘Chain stores burgeoned, shrank because of economics, and are now seeing an upside again,’ he explains. Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal made grand entries into the market, e-books were made available, and Nielsen BookScan began operations in India, helping publishers find out who and what is trending.

Anita Desai, author of Feasting and Fasting, has been Booker-shortlisted three times. She is the mother of another prominent Indian scribe, Kiran Desai. The younger Desai was born in India in 1977 and educated in India, England and the United States. Her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was published in 1998, in 22 countries, and won the Betty Trask Award.  She followed it up with The Inheritance of Loss. An excerpt from the latter:

 This Sai had learned (at Catholic school). This underneath, and on top of flat creed: cake was better than ‘laddoos’, fork spoon knife better than hands, sipping the blood of Christ and consuming a wafer of his body was more civilized than garlanding a phallic symbol with marigolds. English was better than Hindi.

The Inheritance of Loss won the Man Booker Prize (2006) and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award, and was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize (2007). The Guardian said that it ‘continues the fine tradition of Booker Winners set in India, such as The God of Small Things and Midnight’s Children. It’s a great winner.’ Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, said: ‘If God is in the details, Ms. Desai has written a holy book. Page after page, from Harlem to the Himalayas, she captures the terror and exhilaration of being alive in the world.’ In 2013, Kiran Desai was awarded a Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Germany. 



London/New Delhi. Following the successful launch of the Nielsen India Book Market Report in 2015; Nielsen Book initiated a Census Study of the ‘Trade Book Stores’ in India. The retail landscape of trade book shops in India is cluttered and disorganised and therefore publishers are unaware of large sectors of retail stores selling trade books, barring the few branded national chain stores, regional stores and independent shops.

Nielsen Book has played a leading role in the book industry for many years, providing consumer research, retail sales analysis and search and discovery services for the book industry. Its unique range of services enables business-critical information to flow seamlessly through the book supply chain and it is well placed to undertake research of this type – reports that help everyone in the book industry, including those outside of India who want to play a part in the India Book Market.

Nielsen Book undertook this unique study by reviewing all book shops throughout the length and breadth of the country which covered 122 towns, in order to profile each and every shop selling trade books. These included bookshops in railway and bus stations, hospitals etc., all are included in the census, apart from the traditional independent stores.

There are 2,910 book shops, of these 1,648 sell English-language books and Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai are the top three towns with the most book retail stores in the country.

Source: Nielsen[3] Press Release dated Thursday 28 July 2016



  JaJaipur Literature Festival is billed as ‘Asia’s largest lit festival’. It averages quarter of a million attendees and is held in Jaipur which is also known as ‘the pink city’ and ‘the jem capital of the world’. The city also hosts an ‘elephant festival’. In an episode of BBC’s ‘Arts on Tour’, broadcast on 30 Jan 2017, best-selling Indian author Vikram Chandra described the lit event thus: ‘It’s the largest literature festival. It’s like an Indian wedding that runs for 5 days…Literature and books are just a starting point to the festival.’


An accomplished writer in his home country, Vikram Chandra came into the global spotlight after his voluminous novel, Sacred Games, became a Netflix drama series. The book was written over a 10-year period. ‘The crime form is an amazingly cross-cultural form,’ Vikaram told the BBC.


 Residents of the Indian town of Motihari, where British novelist George Orwell was born (in 1903), claim that their connection with the famous novelist places them ‘on the literary map’. The colonial-era bungalow is now a museum. Incidentally, Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book) was also born in India. The famed poet, author, journalist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize for Literature laureate was born in Mumbai (Bombay) in 1865 and educated in England. He returned to India in 1882.


- In the run-up to UNESCO’s World Book Day (2017), an article on TimesOfIndia.com brought my attention to Indian ‘book café’s. ‘If reading is your passion,’ the article said, ‘you need not content yourself with your favourite corner, that good old library or the terrace…You have the luxury of browsing through the black and white pages in plush, antique and creative settings with delectable food and delightful drinks pouring in. Get to know more about these amazing book cafes across India.’ The spots listed were:


1)     Cha Bar – Oxford Bookstore (Present in various cities) - Reading sessions, launches, book signings etc.

2)     Café Wanderlust, Gurgoan – ‘Travel café’ with travel books, magazines, trip advisors etc

3)     The Coffee Cup, Secunderabad – Bookstore, library, board games, food etc.

4)     Café Story, Kolkata – ‘The USP for bookworms’ – Variety of books in addition to Italian and continental vegetarian cuisines.

5)     Pagdandi, Pune – ‘Mom and pop’-type place, wide range of books by mainstream and indie publishers, snacks and chai available.

6)     Literati, Goa – Cozy place, new and used books, book events, food.

7)     Cafe Illiterati, Mcleodganj, Dharmsala – Exotic spot with Mountain View, large book selection, coffee and baked dishes.

8)     Café Fiction, Gangtok – Bookstore, Bookman’s BnB, home-baked snacks, artisan and home-roasted coffees.

9)     Café Bookworm, Lucknow – One of the pioneering book cafes, some books can be read for free.

10) Books N’ Brew, Chandigarh – Large book selection, multi-cuisine food and beverages.


-         Juggernaut Books (Juggernaut.in) is a book publisher, store and mobile app (Android/Apple IOS).  Their stated objective is to:


a.       Get more Indians to read books

b.      To encourage more Indians to write

c.       To make books less intimidating


They have created ‘a platform to find and read high quality affordable books and to submit your writing’ and ‘aim to create a world-class Indian publishing company that redifines reading and writing for the digital.’ The staff currenty includes: Chiki Sarkar (Publisher), Durga Raghunath (CEO), Nandini Mehta (Executive Editor), R. Sivapriya (Executive Editor), Jaishree Ram Moham (Executive Editor) and Varun Naik (Software Engineer).



 ‘I am the center of the cyclone. And a tremendous feeling has arisen in me. Even if you throw me into hell you cannot disturb my Paradise.’ – Bhagwan Shree Rajineesh, controversial Indian guru


 Image: Columbia University

Columbia University and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France have partnered in creating a festival that acts as a ‘celebration of world literature’. In its second year, the festival focused on Writers of India. It featured Columbia's Akeel Bilgrami, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Vishakha N. Desai, Urvashi Butalia, Vikram Chandra, Amit Chaudhuri, Kiran Desai, Uday Prakash, Salma, Sudeep Sen, Akhil Sharma, Geetanjali Shree, Indra Sinha, Shumona Sinha, Sanjay Subrahmanyam and Jeet Thayil. It took place in Paris, from 17th to 21st Sept. 2014.

From the Encyclopædia Britannica (2018):

The corpus of Indian literature is vast, especially in religion and philosophy. The roots of Indian literary tradition are found in the Vedas, a collection of religious hymns probably dating from the mid-2nd millennium BCE but not written down until many centuries later. Many of the ancient texts still provide core elements of Hindu rituals and, despite their great length, are memorized in their entirety by Brahman priests and scholars.

Literature languished during much of the period of British rule, but it experienced a  new awakening with the so-called Hindu Renaissance, centred in Bengal and beginning in the mid-19th century. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee established the novel, previously unknown in India, as a literary genre. Chatterjee wrote in Bengali, and most of his literary successors, including the popular Hindi novelist Prem Chand (pseudonym of Dhanpat Rai Srivastava), also preferred to write in Indian languages; however, many others, including Tagore, were no less comfortable writing in English. The works of some Indian authors—such as the contemporary novelists Mulk Raj Anand, Bharati Mukherjee, Anita Desai, Kamala Markandaya, and R.K. Narayan; the essayist Nirad C. Chaudhuri; the poet and novelist Vikram Seth; Booker Prize winners Salman Rushdie (1981), Arundhati Roy (1997), and Kiran Desai (2006); as well as the novelist Vikram Chandra and the poets Meena Alexander and Kamala Das—are exclusively or almost exclusively in English.

 An excerpt from a brilliant paper titled Indianising Literary Criticism, written by Dr Amod Kumar Rai (Asst. Prof. Dept. of English, BPG College Kushinagar )[4]:

Literature is a mimetic practice whose primary purpose is to produce an accurate representation of its object and criticism is an endeavour to catch how correctly that imitation is done. It may be conceived then easily what literature is to life, criticism is to literature. Literature inspects life and criticism inspects literature. Criticism, therefore, is a broader discipline but indeed not the greater. Although criticism is different from theories, yet it is not without theories. Criticism is practice as in practical criticism; it seems intuitively to be more fundamental and authentic activity. Theory is simply how you talk about, organise and reflect upon what you have been doing as a critic; a kind of appended metalanguage which takes critical practice as its object. The Indian maníshis of the past have emphasised much on this legislative and dogmatic aspect of Poetics or to be more precise Kavyashastra.

Like the western Poetics, Kavyashastra too studies the various forms, techniques and resources of literature and seeks to define its nature and function. Over the centuries, Kavyashastra has passed through several detours and has extended its range much wider than its western counterpart Poetics. From Bharata to Panditraj Jagganath the Indian scholars have eyed from the most important to the minutest particle of literary activity. Kavyashastra is concerned with making and interpretation of literary texts. Being trained is such Kavyashastra an ideal reader or a critic questions the text in hand. This questioning itself is criticism. It never takes a writer or his work for certain. A critic’s questions are basically regarding the content, dialogue, character, style, culture, image, landscape, and message and of course about values, the literary text tries to establish. Krishna Rayan insists much on these intrinsic elements in the text that are relevant for interpretation and evaluation. The extrinsic elements like the philosophical, socio-political and theological dimensions of the text may render digressions in readers emotional response i.e. rasa siddĥí. To say it more precisely criticism, in Indian Kavyashastra, subjects everything to closest scrutiny. Criticism doesn’t adjudge a work of art as simply good or bad but rather it highlights where the excellencies or the positivities of the text rest, and where it lacks literariness/kavyaguna or exposes the inadequacies of the writer. To sum up criticism, as Leavis also believes, is s step in the larger process of education which in turn is but a step in the promotion of human living and culture.

 According to their website, Saitya Akademin (India’s National Academy of Letters) is:

...the central institution for literary dialogue, publication and promotion in the country and the only institution that undertakes literary activities in 24 Indian languages, including English. Over the 64 years of its dynamic existence, it has ceaselessly endeavored to promote good taste and healthy reading habits, to keep alive the intimate dialogue among the various linguistic and literary zones and groups through seminars, lectures, symposia, discussions, readings and performances, to increase the pace of mutual translations through workshops and individual assignments and to develop a serious literary culture through the publications of journals, monographs, individual creative works of every genre, anthologies, encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, who's who of writers and histories of literature. It has so for brought out over 6000 books, the present pace of publication being one book every 19 hours. Every year the Akademi holds at least 50 seminars at regional, national and international levels along with the workshops and literary gatherings-about 300 in number per year, under various heads like Meet the Author, Samvad, Kavisandhi, Kathasandhi, Loka: The Many Voices, People and Books, Through My Window, Mulakat, Asmita, Antaral, Avishkar, Nari Chetna, Yuva Sahiti, Bal Sahiti, Purvottari and Literary Forum meetings.

The website is a rich resource of arts-related material. It currently lists three Indian literary journals: Indian Literature (bi-monthly journal, English language), Samskrita Pratibha (half-yearly, Sanskrit language) and Samakaleen Bharatiya Sahitya (bi-monthly, Hindi language). Of the latter, the website notes:

 Samkaleen Bhartiya Sahitya is one of India’s premier literary journals in Hindi and is published six times a year by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters. Since its inception in 1980, the journal has grown in stature and carries original writings in Hindi and also translations from 23 recognized Indian languages. The journal covers a wide range of genres such as fiction, poetry, plays, essays, criticism, children’s writing, book reviews etc and caters to almost all sections of reading public and scholars. The journal also carries special issues pertaining to literature contained in specific languages, selections of echoes from the past, modern and post-modern literature in Hindi.[5]

 Other journals include:

  •  Ars Artium is an Indian-based, peer-reviewed international journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. Its spheres of interest include English Language and Literature, Indian English Literature, American Literature, African Literature, African-American Literature, Canadian Literature, Australian Literature, Commonwealth Literature, Comparative Literature, English Language Teaching, ICT in ELT, Linguistics, Translation Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Cross-cultural Studies, inter alia.
  • RIC Journal – ‘Red in Corner’. Hindi and English literary magazine published every month from Jaipur and Paris. Editors: Saudimini Deo & Philipper Charlier.
  • Sahitya Anand is a highly esteemed monthly journal with an international outlook. An inter-disciplinary international refereed research journal, it is geared towards ‘the publication of contribution in all fields of Literature and Language.’ 
  • Northeast Review : ‘India’s northeastern region is a complex melange of languages, cultures and literary traditions. We are aware that a category like ‘northeastern literature’ does not exist. Neither do we want to create any new cognate category that tries to collapse distinctions between different literary traditions. However, we want the Northeast Review to be a common ground for thinking and talking critically about literatures and cultural productions from this region.’
  • IUP Journal of Commonwealth Literature: ‘A peer-reviewed (both national and international) journal. It aims to provide a venue for the best work in the expanding field of Commonwealth Literature and thereby promote a dynamic and critical exchange of ideas among writers and scholars, covering the writings in English from regions such as Canada, Africa, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and others.’ 

RABINDRANATH TAGORE: Artist Extraordinaire

 Name: Rabindranath Tagore

 Born: 7 May 1861, Calcutta, India

Died: 7 August 1941, Calcutta, India

Residence at the time of the award: India

Prize motivation: ‘because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West’

Field: poetry

Language: Bengali and English

Source: "Rabindranath Tagore - Facts". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 4 Jan 2018


Rabindranath Tagore (native name: রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) was a prolific, multidisciplinary artist who, in 1913, became the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Below is more information about this incredible man who apparently excelled in every area of the arts:

‘...Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West.

Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. Among his fifty and odd volumes of poetry are Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One], Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat], Gitanjali (1910) [Song Offerings], Gitimalya (1914) [Wreath of Songs], and Balaka (1916) [The Flight of Cranes]... Besides these, he wrote musical dramas, dance dramas, essays of all types, travel diaries, and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself.’

Source: Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969 


‘Gitanjali 35’

(A poem by Rabindranath Tagore)

   Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; 

   Where knowledge is free;

   Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

   Where words come out from the depth of truth;

   Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

   Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

   Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action

   Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/


From a call for papers to International Hindi Conference in Fiji (at University of the South Pacific), published online by Indian Newslink:

Although Hindi is not the National Language of India or Fiji (it is among Official Languages of the two countries), it is widely understood and spoken mainly influenced by Hindi films, Hindi television programmes and programmes featuring Hindi film stars. In New Zealand, Hindi is the fourth most widely spoken language (according to Statistics New Zealand) but it is not known how many young New Zealanders can read and write Hindi. Organisations such as the ‘Hindi Language and Culture Trust,’ ‘Teach Hindi New Zealand’ and ‘Wellington Hindi School’ are actively encouraging New Zealanders to learn the language.

India has 22 official languages and over 100 more local languages. There are more people in India (a country) than in all of Africa (a continent).


 ‘India pretty much splits people into two categories, you love it or you can’t stand it. I’m in the former group.’ – From Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller (novel)

‘A worthy leader has foresight and insight. He sees the writing on the wall, reads the signs of the times and senses the trends and tendencies at work in his surroundings.’ – George Kaitholil, Make Leadership Your Target

Like its cultural counterpart, the Bollywood film industry, Indian literature has made inroads in most parts of the world. Indian authors have claimed many international and highly competitive accolades and names such as Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth[6] are instantly recognisable in literary circles around the globe. 

Once again, the Encyclopædia Britannica:

Few areas of the world can claim an artistic heritage comparable to that developed in India over the course of more than four millennia...

In modern times, Bengali playwrights—especially Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, who was also a philosopher, poet, songwriter, choreographer, essayist, and painter—have given new life to the Indian theatre. Playwrights from a number of other regions also have gained popularity.

To a great extent, however, Indian interest in theatre has been replaced by the Indian motion-picture industry, which now ranks as the most popular form of mass entertainment. In some years India—whose film industry is centred in Mumbai (Bombay), thus earning the entire movie-making industry the sobriquet ‘Bollywood’ in honour of Hollywood, its U.S. counterpart—makes more feature-length films than any other country in the world...

Book publishing is a thriving industry. Academic titles account for a large portion of all works published, but there is also a considerable market for literature. On the whole, the press functions with little government censorship, and serious controls have been imposed only in matters of national security...

From ‘India’s 50th Year IN-dependence’, an article in Marginalia[7] by Prakruthi N. Banwasi:

The strong roots of the Indus Valley Civilization (which holds prominence for reason of being the oldest known civilization on the earth) is what we have (de)generated from.

                However diluted our elements may have become, yet the blood of the Aryans and Dravidians has not changed colour. Initially, we were subjected to being ruled by kings and bowed to their commands, then came the attack of Chenghiz Khan, Alexander the Great, the subjugation by Mughal Rulers and finally Imperialism had its way when the Britishers surfaced here in the guise of tradesmen.

EAST MEETS WEST: ‘The Far Pavilions’


RED HOT ROMANCE: A scene from the stage adaptation of The Far Pavilions.       
(Image: Hadley Fraser) 

The Far Pavilions is a celebrated novel by M.M. Kaye, hinged on Anglo-Indian relations during the British Colonial Era (Despite sustained resistance to European rule, India was considered ‘the jewel in crown’ of the British Empire). The Far Pavilions has been successfully adapted for screen and stage (as a West End musical).

 According to AcornOnline.com/TV, the screen adaptation is: ‘An epic tale of passion, treachery, and intrigue, set in colonial India, based on the international bestseller by M.M. Kaye. Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire) is an Englishman torn between two cultures, Amy Irving (Crossing Delancey) the Indian princess he loves in a story rich in historical detail and spectacular scenery: Himalayan peaks, the palaces of Bhithor, a lavish Hindu wedding.’


-        ‘Punjabi Widows Make A Splash In Literary World With “Erotic Stories...”,’ said a headline in the online version of Hindustan Times. The article, written by Manraj Grewal Sharma, went on to state:

It’s a tale set in Southall, the mini-Punjab in London, written by a woman in Singapore. And it’s making waves in literary circles across the world. Published in March this year, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is flying off the book shelves in places as far apart as Melbourne and London. A dark but heart-warming comedy, the novel delves into the lives of Punjabi widows, who may have spent a lifetime being dutiful in the shadows of their fathers, husbands and brothers, but whose white ‘dupattas’ hide their rich and colourful inner lives.

Balli Kaur Jaswal, the 33-year-old author born in Singapore, is no stranger to literary acclaim. In 2014, she was named the ‘Best Young Australian Novelist’ by Sydney Morning Herald for her debut novel Inheritance. Her second novel Sugarbread was a finalist for Singapore’s 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.

- UK literary agent David Godwin represents many top-tier South Asian scribes, including Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things), Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy), Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger), Kiran Desai (Emblems of Transformation) and Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis).He previously worked for a publishing firm before he and his wife went into the representation business which they have successfully plied for over twenty years now.

- Lakshmi Holmström was a writer, literary critic and award-winning translator of Tamil literature. She was one of the founding trustees of SADAA (South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive) and translated the works of writers such as Sundara Ramaswamy, Pudumaippittan, Ashokamitran, Bama and Cheran. Her last books were Fish in a Dwindling Lake, a translation of short stories by Ambai (2012); A Second Sunrise, poems by Cheran, translated and edited by Lakshmi Holmström & Sascha Ebeling (2012); Wild Girls, Wicked Words, a translation of poems by four Tamil women (2012). In a Time of Burning, a translation of another collection of poems by Cheran, was published by Arc Publications in 2013 and won an English PEN award. Lakshmi’s other accolades included the Crossword Book Award (2000) for her translation of Karukku by Bama; the Crossword-Hutch Award for her translation of Ambai’s short stories, In a Forest, a Deer (2007, a tie); and the Iyal Award from the Tamil Literary Garden, Canada (2008).



‘Established in the late 60s under the initiative of Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, the African Asian Writers Union aimed at grouping writers from both continents fighting for freedom, equality, solidarity with political prisoners as well as for the stop of violence in conflict-torn countries and for the defense of ethics, values and justice.

Due to political reasons, the activities of the Union had stopped for few years but was revived again in December 2012 during a general conference in Cairo with participation of the following countries: India, Rwanda, Cameroon, Djibouti, Kazakhztan, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Russia, Tunisia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Iraq, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Libya and Yemen.

The AAWU invites Writers Association in the Philippines to become an active member of the Union. The Union promises to open new horizons and provide interchange between countries from the two continents, Asia and Africa. As per the clause of the Union’s Statute, membership is only open to Unions/Federations/Associations i.e. writers can only become members if they are affiliated to an entity, no individual membership is accepted, it must be done through a Union...’

Source: National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Philippines:  http://ncca.gov.ph/announcements-2/call-for-membership-african-asian-writers-union-2/  


[1] © Lonely Planet 2011. ISBN 9781 741 79 7800. (14 Edition)

[2] A masterpiece, utterly exceptional in every way.’ – Harpers and Collins

[3] The Nielsen Company, Nielsen Book, 3rd Floor, Midas House, 62 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6LQ. www.nielsen.com

[4] The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN-0976-8165

[6] ‘The best writer of his generation.’ – The Times

[7] Banwasi Publications (1997)

Thursday, December 9, 2021

'African Shakespeare' Speaks to VOA on Relevance of Nobel Prize of Literature to Africa


VIDEO: On this edition of Straight Talk Africa, host Haydé Adams and her guests discuss whether the Nobel Prize awards (including the literature prize) are in-step with the times and relevant to Africans. Guests include Phiwokuhle Mnyandu, lecturer at Howard University, novelist and playwright Alexander Nderitu and Salem Solomon, News Center editor at Voice of America.  

#NobelPrizeInLiterature #LookingForAnAfricanGriot