A five-day ‘Kitab-Utsav’ hosted by Rajkamal Prakashan will be held in Chandigarh from 10 to 14 February at Punjab Kala Bhawan, which will bring together authors from across the nation, including Sahitya Academy winners such as Surjit Patar, Badrinarayan, Gaytri Bala Panda, Arjumand Aara and Bhupendra Kaur Preet.
The literary event is part of the 75th anniversary of Rajkamal Prakashan, a renowned publishing house of Hindi literature founded in 1947. Last year's International Booker Prize winner, Tomb of Sand by novelist Geetanjali Shree was first published as Ret-Samadhi by Rajkamal Prakashan, becoming the first Hindi language book to win the award.
During her award acceptance speech, Shree had said: “Behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi and other South Asian languages. World literature will be richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages.”
Speaking to Hindustan Times about international recognition of Hindi literature last year, Ashok Maheshwari, Managing Director of Rajkamal Prakashan said, “Hindi literature is like an ocean of treasures, and translation can really help take some of these treasures to readers in other languages. It is perhaps too early to say if the success of Ret Samadhi has elevated Hindi literature as a whole in terms of book sales but I can say that Hindi literature is now getting international attention."
Over the years, the publishing house has worked with eminent writers such as Kaifi Azmi, Mahasweta Devi, and Girish Karnad. In the interview Masheswari said promotion of Hindi has been at the core, “We have also published international classics in Hindi, and our books have been translated from Hindi into English, Punjabi, Bengali, German, Russian, and French.”
To expand their collection, they have acquired old and reputed publishing houses. “The Internet has helped us discover writers from small towns. We publish e-books and audio books; they are popular among readers in far-flung areas who do not have easy access to bookstores,” Maheswari told Hindustan Times.
This literary event is being held in various cities. Varanasi, Bhopal, and Patna have hosted previous editions of "Kitab Utsav", according to a press release. The most recent was held last year in Patna from 5 to 13 November. The nine-day event was attended by more than 15,000 book lovers and readers and over 75 authors from 8 states, as per the release. The participants included 40 authors, painters, journalists, politicians, cultural workers, and cultural organizations. The seminar focused on important topics such as literature, theatre, debate, Kashmir, poetry, politics, and history.
Commenting about the event, Maheshwari said that their goal is to ensure access to national and international literature for people of all ages and socio-economic categories, in all fields and genres. "One of our resolutions is to organise book festivals in various cities across the nation to further build awareness about books and inculcate the habit of serious book reading in the new generation.”
At the Kitab Utsav in Chandigarh, along with discussions on various books, Rajkamal Prakashan will be releasing their latest work.