Three cheers for writer Stephen Alter.
It’s one thing to organise a writers’ festival in the unwriterly confines of Delhi and quite another to get a festival going, with the help of Roli Books, in happy Mussoorie. A gaggle of writers and publishers were there between April 24 and 29 talking about subjects ranging from ‘Being A Writer Today’ to ‘Audience, Form and Genre’.
In the session ‘The Editor’s Perspective’, Andre Bernard, former publisher of Harcourt, told the audience how Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi was consigned to the slush pile until one editor pleaded to take on the book. The rest, as they say, is Booker history.
V K Karthika, Editor-in-Chief, HarperCollins India, warned the audience about the arrival of agents in India. “The money offered will be tempting for an author. But publishers will nurture a long-term relationship that an author requires.”
Udayan Mitra, Senior Managing Editor, Penguin India, felt that the rules of the game could change with the advent of ‘those terrible’ agents. But the show-stoppers were authors Hugh and Colleen Gantzer.
On being told that publishers always told the author about the option of retaining international rights, Hugh icily pointed to the panel and said, “You are lying.” And yes, local star Ruskin Bond was given a special recognition.