Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bimal Kar

Born in Taki, North 24-Parganas, on 19 September 1921, Bimal Kar spent his early youth in Asansol and parts of Bihar. He was involved in myriad professions that later helped him write on varied subjects. His writings reflect a modern mind and have inspired many young writers whom he also supported at the start of their literary careers.

For children, Kar created the retired magician Kinkar Kishore Ray, alias Kikira who solved mysteries with his two assistants. Kar also has to his credit several novels that were successfully adapted for the screen. These include the classic comedy, Basanta-Bilap, the evergreen Balika Bodhu, Jadubangsha and Chhuti (based on his novel, Khar-Kuto). From 1954 to 1982, he was associated with Desh where his novel Grahan was published in 1964. Asamay, also published in Desh, won him the Sahitya Akademi award in 1975. Kar won the Ananda Puraskar in 1967 and the Saratchandra Award from Calcutta University in 1981, among other honours.

Bimal Kar's latest work with Katha "Satyadas" has been illustrated by Neeti Gangopadhya.

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Udaya Narayana Singh
Udaya Narayana Singh is a poet, playwright, translator and linguist. He writes both in Maithili (under the pseudonym ‘Nachiketa’) and Bengali. He has several colletions of poems and essays, and many plays to his credit. Currently, he is the Director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore.

U N Singh's latest release from Katha: "Second Person Singular," a volume of Maithili poetry.

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Merle Kröger

She is a Berlin-based artist and filmmaker. She is the co-founder of the ‘Botschaft e.V.’ and ‘dogfilm’ groups of authors and producers, and the platform ‘pong’, which brings together a publishing house and a production company.

Merle Kröger 's latest work with Katha, "Cut!" has been translated by Rubaica Jaliwala.

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Lakshmi Holmstrom recounts the great author's life.

"Why is pudumaippittan relevant to readers today?"

In the first place, he is rooted in the Tamil country and its culture, and has an important place in Tamil literary history. He was very award of being part of the Tamil renaissance which began with Subramanya Bharati and others at the turn of the nineteenth century, and of the new perspectives he and his colleagues on the literary journal Manikkodi were bringing to the Tamil short story in the 1930s and 1940s. In the second place, he began writing at an important moment in India both in terms of literary and political history. He was born in 1906 and began his literary career in 1934, when Premchand was at the end of his life. Thus the fourteen years during which he wrote happened to coincide with the new Progressive Writers’ Movement. Premchand himself, Ismat Chugtai, Mulk Raj Anand and Thagazhi Sivasankaran Pillai were among his great contemporaries. Although Pudumaippittan was not directly part of the Progressive Movement, he shared with these writers their social concerns and their attempts to present these in realistic fiction. But Pudumaippittan was also aware of being art of a yet wider Modernist Movement which included French, Russian, American and English writers as well as Indian, with whom he shared a passion for questioning and restating traditions that had thus far been accepted easily, both in literature and in life.

Pudumaippittan was a writer who engaged fully with contemporary life and times. In this he differed from (and complemented) his great contemporary, Mauni. Mauni’s stories are about the life of the mind and its imagination. Pudumaippittan’s stories reflect vividly the history of his times, the urbanization of Chennai, social change and mobility, the migration of his own community both to Chennai and to Sri Lanka and their alienation there, the spread of new political ideologies, the influence in Tamil Nadu of Subramanya Bharati, Gandhiji and Periyar. All these are seen with a finely observant as well as a sharply critical eye.

But primarily the stories reflect Pudumaippittan’s own felt experience. He wrote, in the introduction entitled “Warning!” to his collected stories Kanchanai, in 1943,

These stories were not written as the result of a vow to bring about cultural uplift, nor as a kind of service to the reading public. They are merely stories. Neither I nor my stories have the least desire to save the world or to enrich our culture. This is an anthology of episodes reflecting what I have heard, seen, dreamt, wanted to see, and also what I have not wished to see.

Hence the stories come out of his own life, and out of his insights about the community he knew best, the Saiva vellalas or pillais of Tirunelveli District – their tragedies, their dreams and their fantasies. Rooted as they are in the Tamil Nadu of their times, they also touch the timeless and the universal. It is this dual quality that the novelist Sundara Ramaswamy is referring to when he writes that “Chellammal” is one of the greatest of love stories in modern Tamil writing.

During his short working life, Pudumaippittan wrote nearly a hundred stories as well as numerous articles, reviews, poems and plays, much of this material has now been made available to us through the inspired work of A R Venkatachalapathy and the editors of Kalachchuvadu press. All readers of Pudumaippittan should be grateful to them and to the two publications, Annai Ita Thi (Uncollected and Unpublished Writings of Pudumaippittan), Kalachchuvadu Pathippagam 1998, and Pudumaippittan Kathaigal (The Complete Stories of Pudumaippittan: A chronological, variorum edition with critical notes and appendices), Kalachchuvadu Pathippagam 2001.

"Fictions: Pudumaippittan" has been translated from Tamil by Lakshmi Holmstrom for Katha.

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T Janakiraman

One of the most popular Tamil writers of the 20th century, he was born in the village of Devangudi in Thanjavur district. Thi Jaa, as he was fondly known, was a leading light of the “Manikodi” school of writers in Tamil, the author of acclaimed novels such as Moghamul, Chembaruthi, Uyirthen, and Marappasu, short stories, travelogues and plays. His lyrical prose, arresting characters and unusual themes enthralled his audience. He received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1979 for his short story collection, Sakthi Vaidhyam. Thi Jaa was a scholar of English and Sanskrit, besides Tamil, and a connoisseur of music and drama.

Thi Jaa's work, "Remembering Amma," has been translated from Tamil by Malati Mathur, for Katha.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Joginder Paul

Joginder Paul has to his credit three novels, two novellas and many collections of short stories and “short” short stories – a genre enriched markedly by his contribution. Acknowledged as one of the leading Urdu writers of the subcontinent, his fiction has been translated into various Indian and foreign languages. He has been felicitated with a number of awards, the more recent being the Urdu Adab Award, the Modi Ghalib Award for Urdu Prose, the Shiromani Urdu Sahityakar Award, the All India Bahadur Shah Zafar Award, the Iqbal Samman, and an international award from Doha for his contribution to Urdu literature.

Joginder Paul's work with Katha "Sleepwalkers" has translated from Urdu by Sunil Trivedi and Sukrita Paul Kumar.

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Intizar Husain

Born in 1925, he is one of the most prolific and talented of Pakistani writers. Best known to his Urdu readership as a master of short story, he has also experimented with novels, novellas, biographies and plays. He has won numerous literary awards in both India and Pakistan. He is a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest circulated English daily.

Intizar Husain's Urdu work, "Stories" has been translated by Maozzam Sheikh

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Anand is the pseudonym of P Sachidanandan who was born in 1936, in Irinjalakuda in Kerala. Having graduated in Civil Engineering from Trivandrum Engineering Colege, he worked in several places in the country, including a four-year stint as a Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army. He retired from Central Water Commission and is now living in Delhi. He is married and has two children.

Known for his serious and thought provoking works of fiction, Anand has also regularly written on current topics and social themes. His major works are Aalkoottam, Abayarthikal, Marubhoomikal Untakunnatu (which has been translated into English as Desert Shadows and published by Penguin India), Govardhante Yatrakal, Vyasanum Vighneshwaranum. He has also written a few collections of short stories, two plays and two articles, Jaiva Manushyan (a philosophical study of man as a part of nature and society) and Vettakkaranum Virunnukaranum (an inquiry into religious fundamentalism).

Anand has received various awards for his writings including the Kerala and Kendra Sahitya Akademi awards.

Anand's work with Katha Malayalam Library: "Vyasa and Vigneshwara," translated by Saji Mathew and edited by Rukmin Sekhar.

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Santanu Kumar Acharya

Prince Sidhartha crossing River Anoma
He is an academician and an accomplished writer. His published works include fifteen novels and an equal number of short story collections, ten story collections for children and substantial feature writings based on real life experiences with the tribal societies of Orissa. His works are prescribed as textbooks at the post graduate level. He has received the Sahitya Akademi Prize, and the Konarka Prize for his short story collection, Chalanti Thakura (1993), and the Orissa Sahitya Akademi Prize for his novel, Nara Kinnara (1970). Twice he has received the National Award for Children’s Literature from the Ministry of Education, Government of India (1962 and 1963). A senior administrator in the Education Department, Government of Orissa, in 1992 he retired as the registrar of Utkal University, Orissa.

Santanu Kumar Acharya's latest release from the YuvaKatha series: Anoma's Daughter

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Bani Basu

She has sixteen novels and six books to her credit. She has had her works published in periodicals like Anandamela, Desh, Ananda Bazaar, Bartaman, Manorama and Tathyakendra and has also contributed to Bengali magazines published from the USA. Her translations include two volumes of Somerset Maugham’s works, one volume of D H Lawrence’s short stories, and Shri Aurbindo’s lyrics and sonnets. She has also done English to Bangla translations for Srinvantu magazine. She has a masters in English literature and is a lecturer in English with Krishna Girls College, Howrah in addition to her busy writing career.

Bani Basu's forthcoming work with Katha: The Fifth Man

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Pratibha Ray

She is undoubtedly one of the most gifted and accomplished amongst the contemporary short story writers and novelists in Orissa. She has an impressive corpus of eighteen novels, several short story collections, one travelogue, nine books for children and ten for neo-literates. She has received numerous awards and honours, including the Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award (1985) for her novel Shilapadma, the Sarala Award for her novel Yajnaseni, the Katha Award for Creative Fiction for the story “Shapya” (1994) and the Biswv Award (1995) for her contribution to Oriya literature. She is also the first woman to receive the Moorti Devi Award of the Bharatiya Jnanpith (1991) for her path-breaking work, Yajnaseni.

Her works have been translated into almost all major Indian languages. For her PhD in Education, she has lived with and studied the lives of the Bondas, one of the most primitive tribes of Orissa. She has been teaching in various government colleges of the state for the last twenty years.

Prathiba Ray's forthcoming work with Katha: Konark

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Damodar Mauzo

He is a short story writer, novelist, columnist and screenplay writer and has been writing in Konkani for over three decades. He has two novels, four collections of short stories and three books for young adults to his credit. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Karmelin. This novel and his short stories have been translated into many languages. He is the recipient of Katha Award for Creative Fiction 1998, the Best Dialogues Award at the Goa State Film Festival 1997, the Goa Kala Academy Award and Konkani Bhasha Mandal Award.

Damodar Mauzzo's work with Katha: "They are my children, and other stories" has been translated from the Konkani by Xavier Cota.

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Chandrasekhar B Kambhar

He is an eminent poet, playwright, novelist, folklorist, film maker and composer of film music whose contribution to literature is immense. His works are inspired by folk tradition, particularly the folklore and mythology of Northern Karnataka which is richly woven into his writings. He draws upon the rich resources from popular speech and folklore with effortless ease.

Kambar, who has been closely associated with folk theatre since childhood, says this rich folk background of his is acquired not inherited. His father was a blacksmith and folk theatre, for Kambar, was a refuge where he could hide from his parents and escape into its colours. Over the years, he has perfected a symbolic form that effectively communicates his vision of human conditions through a theatrical language which derives its vitality from the life of the people and is yet distinctly individual. His award-winning plays have made a tremendous impact on contemporary Indian theatre.

A natural poet, he perceives the world with a poet’s eyes and his poems present an astonishing variety of forms, themes and concerns. His approach to poetry is through the ballad rather than the lyric. According to him poetry when enacted is drama and drama when read is poetry.

A Fulbright scholar, Kambar has taught at the University of Chicago for two years, and in Bangalore University for more than two decades. He is the founder Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University, Hampi and has also served as the Chairman of National School of Drama, New Delhi.

His repertoire includes plays, poetry collections, novels, research papers, as well as feature films and film music compositions. He has participated in the World Poetry Festival twice and has been felicitated with the Sahitya Akademi Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Padma Shri for Literature.

Chandrasekhar Kambhar's work "Singarevva and the Palace" has been translated from Kannada by Laxmi Chandrashekar, for Katha. This is also Katha's first novel.

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M T Vasudevan Nair

Littérateur, playwright, critic, travel writer, screenwriter M T Vasudevan Nair is one of the most outstanding writers of India.

Born at Kudallur village in Palghat, Kerala in 1933, MT began contributing to periodicals very early in life. The first collection of his short stories was published before he completed his graduation from Victoria College, Palghat. He joined the Malayalam magazine Mathrubhumi in 1956, and later became its editor.

He has won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Kaalam; the President’s Gold Medal for the film Nirmalyam – written, produced and directed by him; The Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award thrice for his novel, Naalukettu; his short story collection Swargam Turakkunna Samayam and play, Gopuranatayil. He received the Vayalar Award for his novel Randamoozham and the National Award for Best Screenplay for Oru Vadakkan Veera Gatha, Sadayam and Kadavu. MT was awarded the Katha Award for Creative Fiction for the story Cheriya Cheriya Bhookambangal in 1992. He received the prestigious Jnanpith award in 1995. The Padma Bhushan Award was conferred upon him in 2005. MT lives in Calicut.

M T Vasudevan Nair's work with Katha: "The Master Carpenter" was translated from the Malayalam by Gita Krishnankutty.

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Sundara Ramaswamy

He was one of the finest contemporary Tamil writers. Despite a writing career spanning some fifty years, the volume of his writings is relatively small though it cuts across genres – short stories, novels, poems, essays, criticism, translation and polemic. His stories are marked by conscious experiments with form. All his three novels are watersheds in the history of the Tamil literary scene. Oru puliamaratthin Kadhai, is the first dialect novel in Tamil. He is known for his stylistic prose, the scalpel-like precision of his diction and the metaphorical use of language. He is the recipient of the Kumaran Asan Memorial Award for poetry from the University of Toronto and the Tamil Literature Garden of Canada. His works have been translated into Indian and European languages and he has travelled abroad extensively for literary talks and discussions.

Sundara Ramaswamy's works with Katha:

JJ: Some Jottings
That's it, but

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

La Sa Ra

(Lalgudi Saptharishi Ramamirtham)

Lalgudi Saptarishi Ramamirtham, familiar to his readers as La Sa Ra, is the author of seven novels, two memoirs, two books of essays and several short story collections, and has been translated into Czech and French. Like Kafka, Ramamirtham spent most of his working life in the bank. He won instant critical acclaim in 1948 with the publication of three short stories – Janani, Yogam and Pralayam. Despite his difficult style, Ramamirtham’s writing strikes a chord with the reader because of its arresting symbolism and musicality. In 1989 he won the Sahitya Akademi award for Chintha Nadi – his collection of autobiographical essays.

La Sa Ra's work "The Stone Laughs and Atonement" has been translated from Tamil by Padma Narayanan for Katha.

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Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

He writes in both Khasi and English. He has also translated many Khasi folktales into English and vice versa. His poetry has been widely published and anthologized in two volumes, Moments (1992) and The Sieve (1992). He has also published three other books in Khasi. Presently, he is working as a Publication Officer in North East Hill University.
For Katha, he has written U sier Lapalang and contributed stories in the Northeast collection for children, First Sun Stories.

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Mamang Dai

Mamang Dai is a journalist who has travelled extensively in India and abroad. She is a member of the North East Writers' Forum and has published a number of poems and short stories in various journals and magazines. Her popular work includes Arunachal Pradesh: The Hidden Land and the River Poems.

For Katha, she written books for children: The Sky Queen, Once Upon a Moontime, and contributed stories for the collection, First Sun Stories.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya

Eminent Asomiya writer Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya was a poet, a short story writer and a novelist of repute. He wrote twenty novels, sixty short stories, a hundred poems, ten plays and innumerable essays and articles. He has also translated classics from Bengali and English into Assamese. The Story of Shangmiyang, the Tanghkul Giant, is excerpted and retold from his novel, Yaruingam, which fetched him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award in 1961. He also won the Jnanpith award in 1979.
Geeta Dharmarajan

Geeta Dharmarajan loves writing stories and fantasies for children. She conceived and edited a children's maazine called Tamasha. Geeta was earlier one of the editors of Target, a magazine for children, and The Pennysylvania Gazette, the magazine of the Ivy League University of Pennysylvania. She has 18 books and over 400 published pieces to her credit. She started Katha in 1988 and has been its prncipal team leader since then.
Suchitra Bhattacharya
Born in Bhagalpur, Bihar on 10th January 1950, she started writing from her childhood. She graduated from Calcutta University with Honours in Bengali literature. In the late 1970s, she emerged as one of the most prominent writers in Bangla.

Her writing focuses on contemporary social issues, especially those concerning the urban middle class. Crisis in human relationships and the changing values of the present era along with degeneration of the moral fibre of the society are compellingly depicted in her stories. Exploitation and suffering of women regardless of their social or economic identities find a distinct voice in her writing.

Over the past two decades, Bhattacharya has written about twenty four novels and a large number of short stories in different leading Bangla literary magazines. Some of her acclaimed novels are Kachher Manush, Dahan, Kancher Dewal, Hemonter Pakhi, Neel Ghurni, Gabhir Asukh, Aleek Sukh, Bhangankaal, Parabas, Uro megh, Onyo Basanta, Alochhaya, Palabar Pat Nei, Ami Raikishori and Jalchhabi among others. Her novels and short stories have been translated in many Indian languages such as Hindi, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati and English. She also writes novels and short stories for children.

This prolific writer has received several awards, which include Nanjanagudu Thirumalamba Award (1996) from Bangalore, Katha Award (1997) from Delhi, Tarashankar Award (2000) from Kolkata, Sahitya Setu Award (1998) from Kolkata, Dwijendralal Award (2001) from Kalyani, Sarat Puroshkar (2002) from Bhagalpur, Bharat Nirman Award and Sailajananda Smriti Puroshkar.
Suchitra Bhattacharya's work "I am Madhabi" has been translated from Bengali by Jadu Saha, for Katha.

Monday, September 25, 2006


V Annamalai teaches English at a high school in Vridhachalam, Tamil Nadu. He made his mark on the Tamil Literary Scene with his very first novel, Koveru Kazhuthaigal, published in 1994, which created heated debates on issues like the role of a Dalit writer in the context of oppression seen within the Dait community.
He is a recipient of the Agni Akshara Award, the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers' Association Award and the Amutham Adigal Award.
Arumugam is his second novel.
"Imayam is one of the first Tamil writers to bring the dalits to life through his exquisite novels ..."
- Sundara Ramaswamy
Imayam’s work “Arumugam” has been translated from Tamil by D Krishna Ayyar, for Katha.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Monica Felton

Dr Monica Felton had been in active public service, serving on the London County Council, the Hertfordshire County Council and on various town-planning committees in Britain before she came to India in 1956. She spent the last fourteen years of her life in Chennai working on various books till her death in 1970. She is also the author of I Meet Rajaji, a moving biography of Shri Rajagopalachari based on a series of meetings between her and Rajaji, besides a novel To All the Living and a book about her journey to North Korea titled Why I Went.
Dr Monica Felton's works with Katha:
A Child Widow's Story

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Majgull Axelsson

Majgull Axelsson is the author of four works of nonfiction as well as one previous novel: Far from Nifelheim, for which she was awarded the 1994 Moa Stipendium. The 1997 publication of April Witch in Sweden earned her the prestigious August Prize. She is married, has two children, and lives in Stockholm.

Majgull Axelsson's work with Katha: The April Witch

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mahasweta Devi

Mahasweta Devi is one of the leading writers in Bangla today. Born into an illustrious family that has contributed greatly to Bangla literature and art, she was made to read all the classics as a child. And this laid the foundation for her writing. Her first novel, Jhansir Rani, was written in 1956. She received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1979.

Mahasweta Devi now works with tribal communities and edits the journal, Bartika.