In an exciting acquisition, Westland Publications Pvt Ltd, has acquired the publishing rights to celebrated Bengali writer Manoranjan Bapari’s works.
The first book in the list, There’s Gunpowder in the Air, translated from the Bengali into English by Arunava Sinha, of his novel Batashe Baruder Gondho, will be published in November 2018. This will also be his first novel to be translated into English.
Manoranjan Bapari is often referred to as the pioneer of Dalit writing in West Bengal. He came into prominence with the publication of his essay ‘Is There Any Dalit Writing in Bangla?’, which was translated by Meenakshi Mukherjee, in Economic and Political Weekly. While working as a rickshaw puller in Kolkata, Bapari had a chance meeting with Mahasweta Devi, and she asked him to write for her journal Bartika. Since then he has published nine novels and over fifty stories. In 2014, he was given the Suprabha Majumdar Prize awarded by Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi. He also received the Sharmila Ghosh Smriti Literary Prize in 2015. Rajya Sabha TV has made a documentary on his life.
Commenting on the deal Bapari said, ‘This is a new journey for me. A new beginning for all my books.’
‘A powerful voice of the oppressed in India will find many new readers. As readers we will hear a voice we badly need to,’ added Arunava Sinha.
Bapari was born in the fifties in Barishal, Bangladesh. His family migrated to West Bengal when he was three. They were first resettled in Bankura at the Shiromanipur Refugee camp. Later they were forced to shift to Ghutiyari Sharif, Gholadoltala Refugee Camp, South 24 Parganas, and they lived there till 1969. However, Bapari had to leave home at the age of fourteen to do odd jobs in various cities: Assam, Lucknow, Delhi and Allahabad. At age twenty-four, he came into contact with the Naxals and with the famous labour activist Shankar Guha Niyogi, founder of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, the mine workers’ movement at the Dalli Rajhara Mines. He was sent to jail during this time, where he taught himself to read and write.
Commenting on the acquisition, Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO, Westland Publications Pvt Ltd, said, ‘It’s a great privilege for us to represent Manoranjan Bapari. He is one of the most important voices from Bengal today, with an impressive line-up of books, which we plan to publish in Bengali and many other languages. I’m sure he will be a great addition to our language publishing programme.’
‘Manoranjan Bapari’s is a raw and uninhibited voice. He has lived the stories he tells, occupying the margins that we as a society often forget to acknowledge. Taking his books to a larger readership through translation is going to be meaningful for our publishing programme, and I am really looking forward to it,’ added Minakshi Thakur, Publisher, Language Division, Westland Publications Pvt Ltd.
About Westland Publications Pvt Ltd
Founded in 1962, Westland is one of the largest English-language trade publishers in India. Westland’s bestselling authors include Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Devdutt Pattanaik, Ashok Banker, Rujuta Diwekar, Rashmi Bansal, Savi Sharma, Anita and Harsha Bhogle, and Preeti Shenoy, among others. It has recently launched a new imprint ‘Context’, which publishes literary fiction and non-fiction by some of the finest Indian writers, graphic novelists and chroniclers of our times. Westland publishes print books, e-books as well as short reads in genres ranging from popular and literary fiction to business, politics, biography, spirituality, health and cookery. Westland was acquired by Amazon in 2017. Westland brings Amazon Publishing’s bestselling international books to the Indian market available in over 1000 outlets.