Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Guardian' Best Books

The year-end lists of best books are starting off early and two books published by Permanent Black (an independent press based in India) featured in in The Guardian. These are Partha Chatterjee's The Black Hole of Empire and Arvind K. Mehrotra's Partial Recall.

 One of my secret pleasures about Partial Recall is that I actually drew its cover.

My second secret pleasure is that I managed to insert my dog, Biscoot, into the picture. She's sleeping on that cushion at the reader's feet.

Then I felt really enthusiastic and drew endpapers for it as well. It shows the little owl that is also on the spine of the book -- you can see it in the picture below.

And now I think it's the most beautiful book we've ever made at Permanent Black....

I design all of the covers for our books but it's not often that I get to draw one, either because that wouldn't be appropriate for the book or because authors would not put up with my artistic efforts.  Arvind, the author of Partial Recall, was clear in his head about the kind of look he wanted for the cover (old-fashioned, evoking old literary worlds) and yet he was absolutely happy to let me have the freedom to figure it out for myself. That's the combination every cover designer longs for.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Poem for The Folded Earth

There was an interesting email recently, on The Folded Earth, from a reader who introduced himself as Ashirbad Raha. He included a poem he had written, in Hindi, which picks up themes and threads from the novel. Inter-language intertextuality!

 "...I penned this small piece of poetry (below) this morning dreaming of where Maya lives and with a dream that some day I too would go back to my parents, hills and my small town and write a book... This small poem is dedicated to your writing in The Folded Earth.


पडोसी के बरामदे में वो पीली बल्ब..
शाम को पहाड़ी हवा में ऐसे झूमती है..
जैसे, मानो मदहोश हो शाम के इश्क में...

ठीक जब सुबह  के 6 बजते हैं
तो आकाशवाणी की आवाज़ खिड़की से झांकती है....
हल वाले पूरण चाचा भी खेत जाते है उस वक़्त...  

अंग्रेजो के ज़माने का होगा वो गेस्ट हाउस...
फर्श की दरारों में अपनी उम्र छुपाये...
दीवारों पे सीलन सजाये....

कमरे के कोने में मकड़ों का एक शहर है..
बाहर नर्म घास पे एक गिलहरी आती है हर दोपहर..
एक मोर की टोली भी अक्सर गुजरती है....

दो महीने के लिए आया हूँ यहाँ..
रेशमी सुकून में खोने....
शायद एक किताब भी लिखूं....

That yellow bulb in the neighbour's verandah
Dances every evening in the mountain breeze 
As if drunk with love for the evening.

At exactly six every morning
The sound of a radio through the window
And Puran Chacha leaves for the fields with his plough. 

This guest house must be from British times
Its age hidden in the cracks in its floor
Its decoration the damp on its walls
There is a city of spiders in the corner of the room
A squirrel appears every afternoon on the soft grass
A colony of peacocks walks past.

I am here for two months
Lost in the silken threads of dreaming. 

Maybe I will even write a book.