23 December 2019

The Press on the Roof of the World


 Somewhere in these mountains is the only independent press situated on the roof of the world. 
It will turn twenty next year. 

To mark the end of our teens, we've instituted a prize. The Kosambi Memorial Book Prize will be given annually to the best student in ancient Indian history at Ashoka University, Haryana.  The first prize was awarded on 13th November 2019 to Revanth Ukkalam and Haritha Govind of Ashoka University's Class of 2020. 


Haritha Govind with Mahesh Rangarajan
Revanth Ukkalam with Mahesh Rangarajan, Nayanjot Lahiri, and Pratyay Nath
The prize also marks our extensive co-publication programme with Ashoka University in the series Hedgehog and Fox, edited by Rudrangshu Mukherjee. Over 75 titles have been published in this series in the five years since it came into existence.

As every year here at Permanent Black we proved that you don't have to add to the world's carbon footprint to publish internationally. We did not fly to bookfairs in Frankfurt or London but our books went places.



Some exciting literary reading included Joan Sal├ęs Uncertain Glory, published under license from Maclehose Press, UK; Neelesh Raghuvanshi's Girl with Questioning Eyes, the translation of a novel that has been described as 'Hindi fiction's most moving portrayal of small-town India' and iconoclastic poet and translator Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's Translating the Indian Past.


We also brought back into print Ramchandra Gandhi's "unusual and genuinely original book . . . on the basic problem of our existence as persons in community"
Our last book of the year was the final one of M.S.S. Pandian's brief, brilliant life:  
As always we are grateful to our readers, to the community of scholars and students who look out for our books and a few who read them with an eagle eye and get back to us with typographical errors. Our typesetter Guru Typographics runs a small, sturdy, independent ship as do our printers, Sapra Brothers. We thank them, as well as our main proof-reader Shyama Warner, and Orient Blackswan, wonderful publishers who have supported us right from the start by distributing our books. 
Most of all, none of these books would have reached you without the help and supervision of our core management team, comprising Barauni Junction (left), Piku (centre), and Sodamini a.k.a. Soda (right), which is responsible for the division of labour and resources.

We wish everyone a kinder, calmer year 
than this one has been.

19 December 2019

BACK IN PRINT: PLAIN SPEAKING, A SUDRA'S STORY






"Being the only boy in the house, I ran errands, went to the shops to buy our necessities, and delivered small quantities of milk and buttermilk which we sold to some neighbours, and then had my morning meal. Breakfast consisted of a small quantity of rice kept overnight in rice water which by the morning had slightly fermented, and a little lime pickle or chutney made dal, tamarind, and chillies. Sometimes a single hot chilli was all that was available to eat with the rice."



The memoirs and lectures of A.N. Sattanathan, presented here in a fully annotated edition, with a critical introduction, constitute a key literary-historical document of the caste struggle. Sattanathan’s autobiographical fragment is a unique record of non-brahmin low-caste life in rural South India, where the presence of poverty and caste prejudice is the more powerful for being understated.

As the experience—sparsely and beautifully rendered—of the low-caste but not stereotypically ‘untouchable’ villager, it is, quite simply, revelatory, and will make an impact as such on the English-educated reader, to whom that experience has been so far unavailable.

In a complementary narrative, Sattanathan’s lectures — on ‘The Rise and Spread of the Non-Brahmin Movement’ as ‘the most outstanding event in South Indian History in the twentieth century’— offer a lucid summary of the cultural and historical conditions that find more personal and immediate expression in the memoirs.

A.N. Sattanathan had a distinguished career in the all-India services. He was Collector of Customs and Central Excise, Calcutta, and in later life wrote and published widely on politics and economics in India. In 1969 he was appointed Chairman of the first Tamilnadu Backward Classes Commission and made a lasting impact on the state’s policy of affirmative action towards lower castes.

Uttara Natarajan is Reader in English at Goldsmiths College, where she teaches and researches in nineteenth-century English literature. Her publications include Hazlitt and the Reach of Sense and Blackwell Guides to Criticism: The Romantic Poets.
 
 
Paperback/ Rs 595