Literature has the power to traverse the topographical boundaries to unite the world into a whole. Independent publishers, globally, are coming forward with different revolutionary themes and content that are pertinent in the contemporary times. These work are being recognized, but owing to various factors—geographical; linguistic; and most importantly, monetary—international literature is constricted to a limited number of countries only. We, at BEE, are taking small steps to remedy this situation through grant-based projects. We have been extremely fortunate to be associated with our friends at the UK—Parthian Books, Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, and Saraband—to bridge this cultural gap. We have also received enormous support from British Council India, and the Publishers and Booksellers Guild in this endeavour. As a part of these projects, we have not only bought and sold rights to publish some of the landmark titles of both the countries, but have also been lucky to host international writers in India, and be a witness to their cultural heritage as well.
The Valley, The City, The Village
The Valley, The City, The Village was a collaborative new writing anthology curated by three writers from Wales and three writers from India.
Taking the title from Glyn Jones’s classic novel The Valley, the City, the Village the project involved three writers from each country focusing on aspects of modern society referenced in the title and engaging with these through writing and stories. The commissioned writers from Wales—Sophie McKeand, Siôn Tomos Owen, and Natalie Ann Holborow— travelled to India in January and February 2017, during International Kolkata Book Fair 2017, to imbibe the unique flavour of Kolkata. A trip was arranged around the highlights of the city, including Victoria Memorial, Princep Ghat, Belur Math, the College Street bookstore area, the different bookstores of the city, Park Street and the age-old libraries, including the National Library and the British Council Library.
Each of the writers involved would contribute a story to the overall anthology while also picking two stories that they feel represents the culture they have experienced in the other place Wales or India. They would do this by engaging with writers, artists and literary partners during their visit. Towards the end of May a delegation of three writer—Arunava Sinha, Srijato Bhattacharya, and Kaberi Roychoudhury—along with Esha Chatterjee, CEO, BEE Books visited Wales. The Welsh books that were published in India are The Normal State of Mind, God on Every Wind, Goldfish Memory, and Clown’s Shoes.
Bridges Beyond Boundaries
In association with Bloody Scotland, supported by British Council India & Scotland, Creative Scotland and Scottish Government, BEE launched Bridges Beyond Boundaries— a project to bring contemporary Scottish literature to India at an affordable price, with the aim to bridge the wide chasm that remains between contemporary Scottish and Indian literature.The Bloody Scotland anthology—a riveting collection of twelve macabre tales based on twelve Scottish landmarks by the best Scottishcrime-writing minds; Man Booker Prize shortlisted author Graeme Macrae Burnet’s The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau,The Accident on the A35—the first two books of his Gorski Trilogy; and Sandra Ireland’s Bone Deep, a contemporary tale of sibling rivalry, love and murder have been brought published under the banner of this project. As a part of this project we also successfully launched an online writers’ residency—Digital Writers’ Lab—where we invited Scottish and Indian writers to talk and/or write on a similar topic, which was published simultaneously not only on the project’s blog but also on the websites of all the partners of the project—British Council Library, BEE Books and Bloody Scotland. The aim was to show the similarity or diversity in the authors’ handling of a particular literary situation; thus, giving the readers an insight into the working pattern of their favourite authors. The theme was crime writing. During the International Kolkata Book Fair 2018, authors Graeme Macrae Burnet, Val McDermid, Abir Mukherjee, and literary agent Jenny Brown visited Kolkata as a part of the project.