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Jan 10, 2013, 07.15 PM | Source: PTI

Writers and readers had a busy 2012

The literary scene in 2012 was at its vibrant best going by what Indians read and wrote and there was substantial progress on the digital front, besides several ventures, controversies and author visits during the year.

The literary scene in 2012 was at its vibrant best going by what Indians read and wrote and there was substantial progress on the digital front, besides several ventures, controversies and author visits during the year.

According to poet-novelist Tabish Khair, who released his novel "How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position" in 2012, the Indian literary scene during the year was "at the glitzy 'cosmopolitan' end, a lot of sound and fury, signifying very little, but elsewhere some quietly solid books which will probably get their due in a few years".

The year also saw one of the biggest tie-ups when Bertelsmann and Pearson decided to combine the activities of their respective trade-book publishing companies, Random House and Penguin Group. The closing of the transaction is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2013, following regulatory approval.

The new publishing group will include all the publishing divisions and imprints of Random House and Penguin in India, the US and the UK among other countries.

Indian authors won awards and recognitions, sales saw considerable growth, new writers emerged, literary festivals were galore and acclaimed writers visited the country.

The year 2012 saw congregation of writers and seasoned authors from the country and abroad in events like the Jaipur Literature Festival, Hay festival (Thiruvananthapuram), Kovalam Lit Fest (Kerala) and Kolkata Literary Festival. The year saw the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) making its debut. It was held from December 7-9 at the Jayamahal Palace.

"The BLF was off to a good start. Over 80 authors participated - local, national, international, a literary journal was launched and a kiddie corner put up. For three days in December, literature went live in the city," author and BLF co-organiser Shinie Antony told PTI.

The Jaipur Literature Festival stirred controversy over the participation of writer Salman Rushdie. Trouble began soon after the organisers put Rushdie's name on the festival's guest list. The "Satanic Verses" author finally pulled out of the event saying he had information that hitmen were "on the way to Jaipur to kill me".

Four authors - Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi- then created a ripple at the festival by reading out from "Satanic Verses". But the controversy did not end there. The organisers then decided to host Rushdie's video address at the event.

There was suspense till the last day when the planned video address was cancelled at the last minute over fears of violence following protests by Muslim groups, a decision that triggered an outrage in the literary community. The 65-year-old India-born author described as "awful" the cancellation.

He kept tweeting during the entire controversy. "Threat of violence by Muslim groups stifled free speech today. In a true democracy all get to speak, not just the ones making threats," one of his tweets said shortly after his event was called off.

Apart from the Rushdie episode, the festival will be remembered for the high-profile visits of talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and the charismatic Fatima Bhutto. There was much activity in the publishing arena. "It was our 25th anniversary and we've had a fantastic year publishing some truly wonderful books and authors: popular Penguins, Katherine Boo, Pico Iyer, Shashi Tharoor, Shobhaa De, Kareena Kapoor to name just a few," says Hemali Sodhi, vice president (Marketing and Corporate Communications) of Penguin (Group) India.

"Our brand ambassador for the year - the customized Penguin car - was a huge hit, and we ended the year by being voted in the top 10 for brand marketing across all categories.

So overall, an extremely rewarding year and we look forward to another exciting line-up of books and campaigns for 2013," Sodhi told PTI. For Pan Macmillan India, 2012 was the first year of its local publishing programme.


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