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Deconstructing Pottermania

Bloomsbury's Editor-in-Chief says no one saw it coming.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 23:39 IST

‘Pottermania’ is a familiar term today. It is a phenomenon that has changed the reading habit of millions of children — even grown-ups — all over the world. Significantly, when author JK Rowling tried to get her first Harry Potter book published, she was rejected by several publishers. Rowling finally found a taker in London-based publishing house, Bloomsbury.

Alexandera Pringle, Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury, was in the city to attend the Hindustan Times Kitab Festival. About the current scenario, she says: “A big change has taken place in publishing and writing today.” Pringle first came to India 15 years ago, accompanied by artist Gillian Ayres, and then returned in 2000 with author and mathematician, Manil Suri.

Her second visit was an impressionable one, she recalls: “At a signal point in Delhi, a peddler flashed a few copies of pirated Harry Potter books to me. I gave the boy some money, although I didn’t want to buy any of those. But I took a picture of the boy with those books in his hand. It’s a memory I cherish.” Did she anticipate the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter series? “No one saw it coming,” she says. “Not even has JK Rowling managed to understand it.”

About Harry Potter being a rage in India, she points out: I am happy to know that Rowling’s books are so popular in India.” Is there an opening for new Indian literature in the West?

“There are some great Indian writings that have emerged lately. Some of them are of great interest to the western market,” she says. “Personally, I have enjoyed reading Vikram Chandra and the beautifully written story on Mumbai by Suketu Mehta.” That’s good news, what else!