Urvashi Butalia, noted feminist, publisher and essayist, will soon “step down” as director of Zubaan, the feminist publishing imprint she started 10 years ago.
“I am thinking of stepping down. While I am academically prepared for it, it’s another thing for a crotchety old possessive woman to let go of her organisation,” she told HT.
“Things wil change but I hope the politics will remain intact,” she said.
Butalia, however, declined to put a time-frame to her stepping down.
Zubaan, an imprint of Kali for Women, which she had co-founded with Ritu Menon in 1984, completes 10 years next month.
Some of their classics have been re-issued with new covers to mark the occasion.
Zubaan’s achievements Butalia said, were publishing non-traditional writers like Baby Haldar, Salma and Anjum Habib; taking literature to non-traditional areas such as the Northeast, Kashmir and Bhutan; developing the Young Adult category and “generally managing to keep head above water”.
On publishing and challenges before Zubaan, she said, “The difficulties of being a small publisher have never been greater because the distribution structure is so expensive.” Butalia decried that people call feminist publishing niche.
“I don’t see how half the world can be called niche,” she said.
“When we started out, we were the alternative struggling to be mainstream. Now, we are mainstream struggling to be alternative,” she said, adding “The most difficult thing was dealing with women’s own lack of confidence as writers.”
With the focus shifting to books for masses and online bookstores catering to the mass market, Butalia said she was not confident that “publishers like Zubaan will survive”.
(With inputs from Aarefa Johari)