The first sight that one is greeted with outside the Russian pavilion at the 18th New Delhi International Book Fair are dancers in traditional costumes swaying to the tune of folk instruments.
Opposite it is a stall with a display of colourful Russian wares including dolls from the Ural region to Zhostovo art, which comprises bright flower paintings on trays and utensils, being sold by salespersons dressed in their national costume.
Russia, which enjoys the pride of place at this year edition of the fair, has a great literary tradition and the works of writers like Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin are counted among the classics of world literature.
Russia is also a treasure house of children’s literature and a large number of Indian readers are familiar with Russian children’s characters like Baba Yaga the witch and the Firebird.
Several Russian firms have published Hindi translations of Russian books. The Moscow-based Raduga Publishers has displayed the Hindi version of Tolstoy’s story for children, titled Three Bears.
“In Russia, Rudyard Kipling is popular among kids,” says Raduga’s general director and member of the Moscow Writers’ Union Xenia N Atarova, referring to a bilingual English-Russian edition of The Jungle Book.
“For the fair, we are exhibiting books and diskettes for students, including ones that teach how to speak Russian,” informs Oleg Filiminov, director of the Publishers Association of Russia, which has 200 members. Another publisher who has brought children’s books to the fair is Chelybinsk-based Arkaim Publishing House.
However, those works are in Russian. Any plans to launch their books in India? “I’ve spoken to quite a few Indian publishers like Dreamland and Sterling, and there is the possibility of bringing out Indian editions of our books,” said a spokesperson for Arkaim.