We open this week’s round-up with a deeply thought-provoking and relevant piece by Leo Benedictus in The Guardian. While it in no way refers directly to the Indian children’s publishing ecosystem, the article raises difficult and pertinent questions about the politics of writing for children (young adults, in this case) and examines how the increasing sensitivity around notions of identity and representation in literature are majorly disrupting the Western YA world. Given that Indian publishers too are making active attempts to introduce greater diversity into their lists, it is worth considering some of the pitfalls inherent in the mission to be adequately “woke” or politically correct.
Moving closer home, here are two fascinating reads on one of Tulika’s latest titles, Guthli Has Wings. The book deals with the idea of fluid gender identity, and tries to challenge our rigid notions of male and female through the character of Guthli. Here are two interviews with author-illustrator Kanak Shashi, one from Tulika’s own blog, and another from the New Indian Express.
Also tackling gendered questions is writer and activist Neha Singh, whose book I Need to Pee (published by Penguin India) has won accolades for bringing to light the question of toilet hygiene, and defending a child’s right to pee. Singh was interviewed by The Ahimsa Project’s Chintan Girish Modi. Read what she has to say here.
Environmental issues, too, are taking the children’s lit world by storm—in this piece in Mid-Day, Dalreen Ramos discusses how, increasingly, writers, illustrators and publishers are gravitating towards topics that allow them to foreground the importance of nature in our lives.