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23 Oct 2019, 08:23 HRS IST
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  • PTI
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    • Bookworm
  • Action-packed year for books
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  • Zafri Mudasser Nofil
    New Delhi Dec 25
  • T

    he literary scene in 2014 was vibrant going by what Indians read and wrote and there were controversies as well as the pulping of two books following objection by quarters concerned raised serious questions on freedom of expression of writers.

    Several authors like the celebrated Dan Brown, US-based Jhumpa Lahiri and Pakistani writers Reza Aslan and Moni Mohsin visited during the year which also saw the release of a number of books that sought to target the highest echelons of power - Sanjaya Baru’s “The Accidental Prime Minister”, P C Parakh’s “Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths” and Natwar Singh’s “Yours Sincerely”.

    Besides numerous autobiographies and biographies including ones by Sachin Tendulkar and Naseeruddin Shah, the year saw publishers coming out with books on business, commercial and mass market fiction, literary fiction, self help, chik-lit and culinary. There were a number of works by new and little-known authors.

    In February, Penguin Books India was forced to recall and destroy all copies of US Indologist Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” after an organisation called Shiksha Bachao Andolan Committee claimed that the book, which focuses on different aspects of Hinduism, has lot of “inaccuracies and biases” and was full of various sexual connotations and should be withdrawn.

    Though the publishers said it had an obligation to respect laws even if they were “intolerant and restrictive” and a moral responsibility to protect its “employees against threats and harassment”, Doniger was quite vocal in her reaction. “I was, of course, angry and disappointed to see this happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate,” was her response.

    She said the publishers were defeated by the “true villain of this piece - the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offence to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardises the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book”.

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