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Award-Winning Non-Fiction Penguin Books of 2023

Welcome, readers! Get ready to explore the incredible world of Penguin’s Award-Winning Non-Fiction Books of 2023. These are not just books; they’re stories that take you on adventures and help you see the world in a whole new light. Let’s dive in and discover the fascinating voices that made these books stand out this year!


Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover
Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover

Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover features a formidable cast of characters: from writers like Premchand, Phanishwarnath Renu, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand and Josephine Miles to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad and actor Balraj Sahni. And its landscapes stretch from British jails, an intellectually robust Allahabad and modern-day Delhi to monasteries in Europe, the homes of Agyeya’s friends in the Himalayas and universities in the US. This book is a magnificent examination of Agyeya’s civilizational enterprise.


Azadi || Arundhati Roy

The chant of ‘Azadi!’ – Urdu for ‘Freedom’-is the slogan of the freedom struggle in Kashmir against what the Kashmiris see as the Indian Occupation. Ironically, it also became the chant of millions on the streets of India against the project of Hindu nationalism.
Even as Arundhati Roy began to ask what lay between these two calls for freedom-a chasm or a bridge?-the streets fell silent. Not only in India but all over the world. Covid-19 brought with it another, more terrible, understanding of Azadi, making a nonsense of international borders, incarcerating whole populations, and bringing the modern world to a halt like nothing else ever could.


Sixteen Stormy Days
Sixteen Stormy Days || Tripurdaman Singh

Sixteen Stormy Days narrates the riveting story of the First Amendment to the Constitution of India-one of the pivotal events in Indian political and constitutional history, and its first great battle of ideas. Passed in June 1951 in the face of tremendous opposition within and outside Parliament, the subject of some of independent India’s fiercest parliamentary debates, the First Amendment drastically curbed freedom of speech; enabled caste-based reservation by restricting freedom against discrimination; circumscribed the right to property and validated abolition of the zamindari system; and fashioned a special schedule of unconstitutional laws immune to judicial challenge.Enacted months before India’s inaugural election, the amendment represents the most profound changes that the Constitution has ever seen. Faced with an expansively liberal Constitution that stood in the way of nearly every major socio-economic plan in the Congress party’s manifesto, a judiciary vigorously upholding civil liberties, and a press fiercely resisting his attempt to control public discourse, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru reasserted executive supremacy, creating the constitutional architecture for repression and coercion.


An Island's Eleven
An Island’s Eleven || Nicholas Brookes

From Sathasivam to Sangakkara, Murali to Malinga, Sri Lanka can lay claim to some of the world’s most remarkable cricketers – larger-than-life characters who thumbed convention and played the game their own way. More so than anywhere else in the world, Sri Lankan cricket has an identity. This is the land of pint-sized swashbuckling batsman, on-the-fly innovators and contorted, cryptic spinners.


Working To Restore
Working To Restore || Esha Chhabria

Working to Restore examines revolutionary approaches in nine areas: agriculture, waste, supply chain, inclusivity for the collective good, women in the workforce, travel, health, energy, and finance. The companies profiled are solving global issues: promoting responsible production and consumption, creating equitable opportunities for all, encouraging climate action, and more. Chhabra highlights how their work moves beyond the greenwashed idea of ‘sustainability’ into a new era of regeneration and restoration.


Rebels Against the Raj
Rebels Against the Raj || Ramachandra Guha

Rebels Against the Raj tells the story of seven people who chose to struggle for a country other than their own: foreigners to India who across the late 19th to late 20th century arrived to join the freedom movement fighting for independence from British colonial rule.

Of the seven, four were British, two American, and one Irish. Four men, three women. Before and after being jailed or deported they did remarkable and pioneering work in a variety of fields: journalism, social reform, education, the emancipation of women, environmentalism.


Winning Middle India
Winning Middle India || T.N. Hari, Bala Srinivasa

Is there a fundamental new catalyst that can significantly enhance access, affordability and quality of products and services to hundreds of millions of Indians? This catalyst is in the form of a new generation of start-up founders who are leveraging technology platforms, smartphone access, and rapid digitization of the Indian consumer. These young founders don’t carry the baggage of the past and are attracted to the opportunity of breaking open the massive market of Middle India-the next 400-500M Indians just below the top of the pyramid. This book is about this new and powerful force of change blowing across India-what it takes to harness this and reshape the destiny of this country.


Against all odds

Against All Odds: The IT Story of India is an insider’s account and an anecdote-rich history of Indian IT over the last six decades. It taps into the first-hand experiences of Kris Gopalakrishnan and fifty other stalwarts
who built and shaped the IT industry. This is a tale of persistence and resilience, of foresight, of planning and being ready when luck knocks on the door, of a spirit of adventure and, above all, of an abiding sense of faith in technology and the belief that it would do good for India. It is a tale of triumph, and the best is yet to come!


Superpowers on the Shore
Superpowers on the Shore || Sejal Mehta

The Indian coastline hosts some magnificent intertidal species: solar-powered slugs, escape artist octopuses, venomous jellies, harpooning conus sea snails, to name just a few. It is as biodiverse as a forest wildlife safari, and twice as secretive. From bioluminescence and advanced sonic capabilities to camouflage and shapeshifting, these cloaked assassins are capable of otherworldly skill. Superpowers on the Shore by Sejal Mehta is a dazzling, assured look at some of the creatures with whom we share our world, our water, our monsoons, our beaches and the sandcastles therein.

Come witness the magic of our intertidal superheroes, their fragile beauty and their iridescent drama. Put on your waterproof shoes, pack a bottle of whimsy, bring your sense of wonder. And prepare to be mesmerized.


The Language of History
The Language of History || Audrey Truschke

The Language of History analyses a hitherto overlooked group of histories on Indo-Muslim or Indo-Persian political events, namely a few dozen Sanskrit texts that date from the 1190s until 1721. As soon as Muslim political figures established themselves in northern India in the 1190s-when the Ghurids overthrew the Chauhan kingdom and ruled part of northern India from Delhi-Indian intellectuals wrote about that political development in Sanskrit. Indian men (and at least one woman) produced dozens of Sanskrit texts on Muslim-initiated political events. These works span Delhi Sultanate and Mughal rule, including texts that deal with Deccan sultanates and Muslim-led polities in the subcontinent’s deep south. India’s premodern learned elite only ceased to write on Indo-Muslim political power in Sanskrit when the Mughal Empire began to fracture beyond repair in the early eighteenth century. In other words, Sanskrit writers produced histories of Indo-Persian rule throughout nearly the entire time span of that political experience.


The Dolphin and The Shark
The Dolphin and The Shark || Namita Thapar

The Dolphin and the Shark is born out of Namita Thapar’s experiences of being a judge on Shark Tank India and running the India business of the pharma company Emcure as well as her own entrepreneurship academy. The book emphasizes how leaders of today need to strike a balance between being a shark (aggressive leader) and a dolphin (empathetic leader).


Energize Your Mind
Energize Your Mind || Gaur Gopal Das

In this book, bestselling author and life coach Gaur Gopal Das decodes how the mind works. He combines his anecdotal style with analytical research to teach us how to discipline our mind for our greater well-being. Throughout this book, he provides interactive exercises, meditation techniques and worksheets to help us take charge of our mind.

This book is an essential read for anyone who wants to work towards a better, more fulfilling future for themselves.


Doglapan || Ashneer Grover

This is the unfettered story of Ashneer Grover-the favourite and misunderstood poster boy of Start-up India.
Raw, gut-wrenching in its honesty and completely from the heart, this is storytelling at its finest.

A young boy with a ‘refugee’ tag growing up in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar outpaces his circumstances by becoming a rank-holder at the pinnacle of academic excellence in India-IIT Delhi. He goes on to do an MBA from the hallowed halls of IIM Ahmedabad, builds a career as an investment banker at Kotak Investment Banking and AmEx, and is pivotal in the making of two unicorns-Grofers, as CFO, and BharatPe, as co-founder.

As a judge on the popular TV show Shark Tank India, Ashneer becomes a household name even as his life turns upside down. Controversy, media spotlight, garrulous social media chatter descend, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.


Rahul Bajaj
Rahul Bajaj || Gita Piramal

Rahul Bajaj is a billionaire businessman, the chairman emeritus of the Bajaj Group and a former member of Parliament. This book is not just the story of Rahul Bajaj but the story of India. The author takes us through the country’s transformation from the time Rahul Bajaj’s mother was imprisoned during the freedom struggle to the prism of his eventful life.
Based on unrestricted interviews, the book is full of anecdotes, business learnings and political asides. It is, at its core, a moving human story.


Sing, Dance and Pray
Sing, Dance and Pray || Hindol Sengupta

When A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada entered the port of New York City on 17 September 1965, few Americans took notice–but he was not merely another immigrant. He was on a mission to introduce ancient teachings of Vedic India to mainstream America. Before Srila Prabhupada passed away at the age of eighty-one on 14 November 1977, his mission was successful. He had founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), colloquially known as the ‘Hare Krishna Movement’, and saw it grow into a worldwide confederation of more than 100 temples, ashrams and cultural centers.


The Dream of Revolution
The Dream of Revolution || Bimal Prasad, Sujata Prasad

A comprehensive study of JP’s life and ideas-from the radicalism of his thought process at American university campuses in the 1920s to his political coming of age in the 1930s and subsequent disenchantment with Gandhi’s leadership; from his infectious confidence about the future of socialism to his seemingly naive plans to outmanoeuvre powerful forces within the Congress; from his fractious friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru to his relentless crusade against the stifling of dissent-The Dream of Revolution, Bimal and Sujata Prasad’s rigorously researched biography of JP, dispenses with clichés, questions commonly held perceptions and pushes the limits of what a biographical portrait is capable of.


Open House
Open House || Piyush Pandey

In Open House, Piyush Pandey takes the readers on a journey into his mind-his work, thoughts and experiences. He answers questions posed to him by people over the decades. Serious questions, incisive questions and frivolous questions. Is advertising a good career option? Should ad agencies work for political parties? Why does Ogilvy work for the BJP? Should citizens take the law into their own hands if they don’t like the advertising? Is Ogilvy a lala company? What is the future of advertising? Is Piyush Pandey too old to be in this business?
Honest, irreverent and informative, this is a roller-coaster ride with Piyush Pandey and Anant Rangaswami who has skilfully curated the book. With its practical wisdom and deep insights, Open House will both entertain and enlighten you.


Wanderers Kings Merchants
Wanderers, Kings, Merchants

One of India’s most incredible and enviable cultural aspects is that every Indian is bilingual, if not multilingual. Delving into the fascinating early history of South Asia, this original book reveals how migration, both external and internal, has shaped all Indians from ancient times. Through a first-of-its-kind and incisive study of languages, such as the story of early Sanskrit, the rise of Urdu, language formation in the North-east, it presents the astounding argument that all Indians are of mixed origins.It explores the surprising rise of English after Independence and how it may be endangering India’s native languages.


The wisdom bridge
The wisdom bridge || Kamlesh D. Patel

Daaji in The Wisdom Bridge offers nine principles to guide you, the reader, to live a life that inspires your children and your loved ones. These principles are important references for parents, parents-to-be, grandparents and caregivers to create fulfilling and happy lives. They will not only help you enrich the lives of your children and raise responsible teenagers, but pave the way for an inspired life and resilient bonds in your family.


Build Don't Talk
Build Don’t Talk || Raj Shamani


School taught us specific subjects, like maths and history.
But we weren’t taught:
How to sell
Or how to build relationships
Or how to negotiate
Or how to take care of our mental health
Or how to network
Or how to deal with personal finance

These most important situations we face as adults were never discussed with us when we were students. We weren’t taught these skills in school, and this makes all the success stories we hear about seem out of reach; it makes us feel dumb. We aren’t dumb, we just don’t know how to work the system.

Penguin’s Poetry and Fiction Take Center Stage in 2023

We’ve got something for you! A collection of Penguin’s Award-Winning Fiction and Poetry Books of 2023.

Cheers to the stories that sparkle, verses that sing – let the magic begin!

Fire Bird
Fire Bird || Perumul Murugan

In this transcendental novel, Perumal Murugan draws from his own life experiences of displacement and movement, and explores the fragility of our fundamental attraction to permanence and our ultimately futile efforts to attain it. Translated from the nearly untranslatable Aalandapatchi, which alludes to a mystical bird in Tamil, the titular fire bird perfectly encapsulates the illusory and migratory nature of this pursuit.

Fire Bird is a thought-provoking and beautifully written exploration of the human desire for stability in an ever-changing world.


Pyre || Perumal Murugan

Saroja and Kumaresan are in love. After a hasty wedding, they arrive in Kumaresan’s village, harboring a dangerous secret: their marriage is an inter-caste one, likely to upset the village elders should they get to know of it. Kumaresan is naively confident that all will be well. But nothing is further from the truth. Despite the strident denials of the young couple, the villagers strongly suspect that Saroja must belong to a different caste. It is only a matter of time before their suspicions harden into certainty and, outraged, they set about exacting their revenge.

A devastating tale of innocent young love pitted against chilling savagery, Pyre conjures a terrifying vision of intolerance.


Jezebel || K.R. Meera, Abhirami Girija Sriram, K.S. Bijukumar

Like the Biblical story of Queen Jezebel, who was much maligned as a scheming harlot and infamously thrown to her death from her palace window, Jezebel is a novel that asks if independent women can ever live lives that are free of judgement K.R. Meera’s hypnotic prose, in this elegant translation from the Malayalam by Abhirami Girija Sriram and K.S. Bijukumar, makes resonant allusions to the Bible in powerful ways that elucidate the correlations between legend and the protagonist’s life while also exploring how sexuality and gender roles are manipulated by the dictates of society.


The Black Magic Women
The Black Magic Women || Moushumi Kandali, Parbina Rashid

The stories makes one pause, think and debate issues that range from racial discrimination (‘The Fireflies Outside of the Frame’) to sexual harassment (‘The Hyenas and Coach Number One’, ‘Kalindi, Your Black Waters . . . ‘) to the existential and ideological dilemma induced by the state’s complex sociopolitical scenario (‘The Final Leap of the Salmon’). The title story is revealing of how mainstream India perceives Assamese women-as powered with the art of seduction and black magic-as a result of which they face social discrimination that can range from racial slurs to physical abuse.


Tomb of Sand
Tomb of Sand || Geetanjali Shree, Daisy Rockwell

In northern India, an eighty-year-old woman slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband, and then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life. Her determination to fly in the face of convention – including striking up a friendship with a transgender person – confuses her bohemian daughter, who is used to thinking of herself as the more ‘modern’ of the two.


Hunchprose || Ranjit Hoskote

The title of this dazzling new collection asserts poetry’s claim to be heard above the buzz of data, to transform language, broken by history, into music. Vibrant with linguistic experiment, Hunchprose weaves unpredictable patterns, celebrates our plural selves. In the erasure of ancient scripts, the melting Arctic ice, a lion tamer’s primal fear, we recognize vulnerability and rupture. A dancer’s courage, a leather worker’s revolutionary promise, a locksmith’s passion for ruins inspire us to redeem ourselves through love, doubt, hope and dream

The #BeAfilmyStoryWriter Contest Winners Revealed!

Welcome to the filmi world of the #BeAfilmyStoryWriter Contest winners!

We are thrilled to present you with three extraordinary tales that beautifully captured the essence of Filmi Stories by Kunal Basu. Get ready to be swept away by some amazing storytelling and cinematic flair showcased by our talented winners.

Lights, camera, action- let’s embark on this Filmi journey together.

Don’t forget the popcorn!

Filmi Stories
Filmi Stories || Kunal Basu


Zenobia Merchant  @zens2cents  

All the roads were leading to a dead end. Shweta needed to change her approach, yet again! 

Her eyes welled up when she thought of him. Maur Sharma, her father, was the most honest and disciplined cop. 

Whilst investigating a case, his search landed him in a scuffle with some big names in the corporate world. He left for an undisclosed location on a lead and kissed her goodbye six months ago, to hear nothing from him. 

Shweta an officer herself, secretly took over the reins of her father’s investigation with the aid of a trusted few and landed in Nagaland on a tip. 

The state in itself was in mayhem and not a single soul knew or had chanced to see her father. She was about to give up when she heard the cries of a woman beating her chest. Her 8-year-old son was dead and also defiled. 

When she assisted to help file a case, the woman asked her to leave, else she too would meet the same dreadful fate as the officer, who was helping the villagers to rescue children from trafficking and abuse. 

The woman led her to the man’s grave. 

Shweta finally found her father. 


Namita Das @dasnamitaa 

The Search 

Arya embarked on a journey to a troubled region, searching for her missing father. However, upon arrival, no one seemed to know who he was, or they evaded her questions with unease. Suspicion grew within her, wondering if there was a sinister secret they were concealing. 

Undeterred, Arya ventured further, risking her safety to uncover the truth. 

In a remote village, she encountered an elderly man who claimed to have knowledge of her father. What he revealed shook Arya to her core. 

Her father, it turned out, was not the ordinary man she believed him to be. He had been entangled in a web of espionage, infiltrating a rebel group to expose their evil plans. The villagers, complicit in the cover-up, denied any knowledge of him to protect their safety. Unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price, being captured and executed by the very rebels he sought to thwart. 

A whirlwind of disbelief and anger consumed Arya. The search for her father had not only cost her hope but also her purpose. Her life had been built on falsehoods, and the trust she once had shattered like glass. 

Heartbroken and betrayed, she packed her belongings, vowing to abandon her dreams as a writer. 

Boarding a plane, Arya left behind the troubled region that had shattered her heart. She vowed to forge a new path guided by authenticity and the strength to overcome adversity. The truth she sought had only brought devastation, leaving her questioning if she could ever trust again. Yet, within the depths of her despair, a flicker of resilience ignited. 

As Arya stepped into an uncertain future, she carried the burden of her father’s absence, forever shaping her. 

Determined to honour his memory, she would weave her own story that would transcend the shadows of her past, embracing the light of a newfound resolve. 


Ankita K.  @bird_song07  

The Silent Vanishing 

With trembling hands and racing heart, Leher got off the rickety bus. The frost-veiled welcoming-board read: Manaspur. 

Within ‘this’ bucolic town, the truth about her father’s vanishing lay hidden. She started scouring the labyrinthine alleys, encountering only oblivious faces and resounding denials. But she kept going. 

Despite her father’s abusive nature, Leher sought closure. 

Placing her father’s picture before a weather-beaten shopkeeper, she asked, “Have you seen this man? Or a white sedan, perhaps?” “Sorry, no. What happened?” the man replied. 

“He’s my father,” she stuttered. ” can’t find him. He and my mother stayed in a nearby hotel. One night, he got in his car and vanished, leaving her alone. Nobody at the hotel even saw him leave.”  The man expressed heartfelt sympathy. 

As the day wore on, Leher questioned the remaining townsfolk but met with similar negation.  Now it was time to update her mother. Reaching the bus stop, she phoned her.  

“Mom, nobody saw him, or the car,” Leher conveyed, her trembling voice becoming steadier, “Please stop crying, Ma. It was self-defense. And he deserved it!” she reassured, “And trust me, if no one saw the car, no one saw you pushing it down the cliff.” 


 Get your copy of Filmi Stories by Kunal Basu wherever books are sold. 


The Tata Way: A Tribute to Excellence

On this auspicious occasion of J.R.D Tata’s birth anniversary, we embark on a journey through the enigmatic world of the Tata Business Group. From the Visionary founder, Jamsetji Tata, to the modern-day achievements under the leadership of Ratan Tata, these books over profound insights into the Tata legacy, its contributions to the nation, and its ultimate impact on India’s business landscape.
Join us in celebrating their heritage through these rich tales of perseverance, innovation, and philanthropy that continue to inspire generations even today!


For the love of India
For the love of India: The Life & Times Of Jamsetji Tata||

In For the Love of India, R.M. Lala has drawn upon fresh material from the India Office Library in London and other archives, as also Jamsetji’s letters, to portray the man and his age. It is an absorbing account that makes clear how remarkable Jamsetji’s achievement truly was, and why, even now, one hundred years after his death, he seems like a man well ahead of the times.


The Creation of Wealth
The Creation of Wealth: The Tatas From The 19th To The 21st Century || R M Lala

The Creation of Wealth is R.M. Lala’s bestselling account of how the Tatas have been at the forefront in the making of the Indian nation-not just by their phenomenal achievements as industrialists and entrepreneurs but also by their significant contributions in areas like factory reforms, labour and social welfare, medical research, higher education, culture and arts, and rural development.


The Story of Tata
The Story of Tata || Peter Casey

In 1868, Jamsetji Tata, a visionary of his time, lit the flame that went on to become Tata and its group of companies. This business grew into an extraordinary one. One that some may even call ‘the greatest company in the world’. Over the decades, the business expanded and prospered under the leadership of the various keepers of the flame, such as Sir Dorabji Tata, J.R.D. Tata and Ratan Tata, to name a few. But one day, the headlines boldly declared that the chairman of the board of Tata Sons, Cyrus Mistry, had been fired.
What went wrong?

In this exclusive and authorized book, insiders of the Tata businesses open up to Peter Casey for the first time to tell the story. From its humble beginnings as a mercantile company to its growth as a successful yet philanthropic organization to its recent brush with Mistry, this is a book that every business- minded individual must read.


#TataStories: 40 Timeless Tales To Inspire You

A diamond twice as large as the famous Kohinoor pledged to survive a financial crisis; a meeting with a ‘relatively unknown young monk’ who later went on to be known as Swami Vivekananda; the fascinating story of the first-ever Indian team at the Olympics; the making of India’s first commercial airline and first indigenous car; how ‘OK TATA’ made its way to the backs of millions of trucks on Indian highways; a famous race that was both lost and won; and
many more.

#TataStories is a collection of littleknown tales of individuals, events and places from the Tata Group that have shaped the India we live in today.

The Tata Saga
The Tata Saga: Timeless Stories From India’s Largest Business Group

The Tata Saga is a collection of handpicked stories published on India’s most iconic business group. The anthology features snippets from the lives of various business leaders of the company: Ratan Tata, J.R.D. Tata, Jamsetji Tata, Xerxes Desai, Sumant Moolgaokar, F.C. Kohli, among others. There are tales of outstanding successes, crushing failures and extraordinary challenges that faced the Tata Group.


Tata Log
Tata log || Harish Bhat

From steel to beverages and from supercomputers to automobiles, TATA companies have broken new ground and set new standards of excellence over the past two decades. Tatalog presents eight riveting and hitherto untold stories about the strategic and operational challenges that TATA companies have faced, and the forward thinking and determination that have raised the brand to new heights.


Beyond The Last Blue Mountain
Beyond The Last Blue Mountain: A Life of J.R.D Tata || R.M. Lala

An exhaustive and unforgettable portrait of India’s greatest and most respected industrialist. Written with J.R.D. Tata’s co-operation, this superb biography tells the J.R.D. story from his birth to 1993, the year in which he died in Switzerland. The book is divided into four parts: Part I deals with the early years, from J.R.D’s birth in France in 1904 to his accession to the chairmanship of Tatas, India’s largest industrial conglomerate, at the age of thirty-four; Part II looks at his forty-six years in Indian aviation (the lasting passion of J.R.D’s life) which led to the initiation of the Indian aviation industry and its development into one of India’s success stories; Part III illuminates his half-century-long stint as the outstanding personality of Indian industry; and Part IV unearths hitherto unknown details about the private man and the public figure, including glimpses of his long friendships with such people as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and his association with celebrities in India and abroad.


The Tata Group
The Tata Group || Dr. Shashank Shah

A deepdive into the Tata universe, The Tata Group brings forth hitherto lesser-known facts and insights. It also brings you face-to-face with the most intriguing business decisions and their makers. How did Tata Motors turn around Jaguar Land Rover when Ford failed to do so? Why wasn’t TCS listed during the IT boom? Why wasn’t Tata Steel’s Corus acquisition successful?


The TCS Story and Beyond
The TCS Story and Beyond || S. Ramadorai

The TCS story is one of modern India’s great success stories. In this fascinating book, S. Ramadorai, one of the country’s most respected business leaders, recounts the steps to that extraordinary success, and outlines a vision for the future where the quality initiatives he undertook can be applied to a larger national framework.


he boy who wanted to fly
he boy who wanted to fly: J.R.D Tata (Dreamer’s Series) || Lavanya Karthik

Before Jeh started India’s first airline and changed the way the nation travelled, he was a boy who dreamt of flying.


From The Writer’s Desk: Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell

The day we had all been waiting for finally arrived at our office some time ago. Our office doors swung open and in came the two women who created history by bringing to life, the first Hindi and South Asian language book to win the International Booker.  We look at them like icons, but they walk in like friends, friends who’ve returned home after becoming legends. And so, we sit with them for a quick coffee, some afternoon sun, and the rush outside with all the other employees getting ready to get their books signed.

Manasi: How does it feel to have made history? What do you think this kind of international recognition will mean for Hindi literature and translation?

Geetanjali: I am not quite able to believe it, but I do know that something amazing has happened. It feels great to be the chosen one. I think this achievement just makes the larger world discover a language called Hindi and the vibrant literature that exists in Hindi and the languages around it. Hence, it is a very important moment;, there are tremendous possibilities for the world which hasn’t seen a lot of this kind of literature.  

Daisy: It’s very exciting. Both of us have been working quietly for so many years, on our own. So, this is unexpected and very thrilling for us. We hope that the rest of the world will find out about all the amazing literature that comes out of South Asia. There has been translation all along, but I believe that Penguin has been bringing out a lot of translated literature since the early 1990s. Yet, it somehow never gets outside of the subcontinent. We hope that Tomb of Sand will help all these other books cross borders.  


Avleen: Speaking of translations, they once said in a movie, ‘Poetry in translation is like taking a bath with a raincoat on’. But then translations also seem to be the only answers to build a world where we share our stories with each other. So, here you are trying to do the impossible. What are your thoughts on translation and what is the process like? Is it all bits daunting that we assume it to be? 

Daisy: Yes, I think that’s a very negative way to look at translation. People keep asking me about the loss in translation, but I am much more interested in what we find! It is daunting but it is a very exciting experience for me! I love challenges and I love things that seem impossible to render in a language. A lot of people are even reading Ret Samadhi after reading Tomb of Sand, so, it’s taking people back to Hindi as well. So, translation for me is always about finding and discovering. 

Avleen: Geetanjali, even you’ve mentioned in other interviews that the translation process often makes you look at your novel with a renewed lens. Was there ever a moment where it led to a change in your perspective or feeling regarding some aspect about the book? 

Geetanjali: I don’t think it changed anything, but there was an enhancement of my perspective. A good translation brings out a lot of latent possibilities lying inside the work and that is an exciting discovery. But if it does something that changes a perspective, then it’s not a good translation. It should help in discovering something that’s there but may not be as visible or audible in the work. 

Manasi: So, tell me (Geetanjali), how does writing begin for you? Is it the idea first or do you start writing and then the idea comes?  

Geetanjali: Well, I don’t have a worked-out scheme. I think there’s a different trigger each time. It only happened once, when I knew I wanted to write about communalism. About Hindus and Muslims and how we seem to think that it is happening only among the uneducated in the old cities, when in fact, all of us have strange prejudices inside us no matter how liberal we consider ourselves to be. That’s the only time I had a theme in mind. Otherwise, the trigger can be anything for me! It can be an image or a wisp of a dialogue. It can be something very ordinary in daily life. And what I have discovered is that something that is ordinary is never only ordinary. It always gets linked to some very huge things. Something small sets me off and then keeps getting joined up with other things and the story keeps building, so it’s a very organic process.  


Manasi: And in terms of the collaboration between the two of you, do you talk throughout the process of translation, or do you deliver a full draft to Geetanjali? 

Daisy: I always do a rough and full first draft, trying not to talk to anybody at all. Even if I have a lot of questions and problems, I just write it all by hand and put notes. It’s like when you’re taking an exam, you don’t really know the answer to the first question but when you read the whole exam, you’ll find some of the answers at the end in the way the questions are asked. For example, why she’s using a particular word or why an image was used where? So, I go through the whole thing and after 2-3 drafts, I start asking her questions. LOTS of questions. And by the 5th or 6th draft, I send her the whole thing and she goes through it comprehensively and then there are more discussions. There are layers upon layers upon layers of conversations.  

Geetanjali: And you know Daisy and I had not met during all of this. We just met a couple of days before the booker announcement. So, all of it was on email. 

Daisy: And it’s funny because all of it was during the pandemic and it never even crossed our minds to use Zoom. People thought that we were Zooming but we never had a voice conversation!  

Geetanjali: But the wonderful thing is that when we met, it didn’t feel like we were meeting for the first time. We immediately slipped into a very easy friendship. 

Manasi: Because you must have such a deep level of intellectual trust ion each other for doing something so big!  

Geetanjali: Yes, but we’re also very lucky! Because there was a risk. It could’ve gone any which way. And I always wonder if Daisy was very good at translation but didn’t have a sense of humour, she would’ve destroyed that book!  


Manasi: So, tell me about the title? I know that one of the only things you guys had a disagreement on was the title. So, Ret Samadhi becomes Tomb of Sand. Tell us how you arrived upon it? 

Geetanjali: Daisy was very wickedly supported by the publisher (laughs). I wanted the word samadhi to be in the title. And samadhi was already in the Oxford English Dictionary. And even if it wasn’t, I would’ve argued that words are constantly being taken into other languages, let samadhi go in the title. Let them learn a new word and concept. But I think Daisy and the publisher both felt, perhaps rightly so, that samadhi in the title might mislead people in bookstores to believe it is about spiritualism or yoga. They didn’t want to introduce prejudice. That argument made sense to me, but I was a bit concerned about the word tomb, because it is completely different from samadhi.  

Daisy: But when I chose ‘tomb’, I was thinking about the Gandhi samadhi. Because that’s a tomb that’s not a mausoleum, but a resting place. It’s sort of giving him a Buddha-like feeling, that he’s still there somehow. But a part of the compromise is that I went all out in teaching the word samadhi throughout the book. We have the definition right in the beginning and then I define it subtly within the text, and by the end I’m only using the word samadhi and not any of the translations of it. And I think we’re both very opinionated and confident in our opinions.  

Geetanjali: But I think we also know how to be a little detached. After a point, she is the translator. She knows English, she knows what the book is.  

Daisy: Yeah, I think people are always annoying Geetanjali with the question that why didn’t you write in eEnglish or why didn’t you translate your own book? And she says because Hindi is my mother tongue, why should I defend this? But if she was translating her books, she wouldn’t be writing books. That would cannibalize her work. And she doesn’t want to be a translator. And that’s part of what makes our relationship work. Because she doesn’t want to suddenly jump in and become the translator, she never wanted to be that. Our roles are clearclear, and we have a nice boundary between us. 

Geetanjali: Yes, but it’s a boundary that works as a bridge, it doesn’t divide us. 



As a bonus to our lovely readers, here’s a writing tip that Geetanjali Shree shared specially for you all:  


Geetanjali: If you want to be a writer, you have to write.  

Write, write, write. 

Writing is about looking at the world, dialoguing with it, sharpening your observation, trying to notice things. So, just do that. Hone your sensitivities and look around, look inside you, think about things, be reflective, be quiet, and write, write, write. 


Penguin At JLF 2023 ?

The Jaipur Literature Festival, also called the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, is the Multiverse of Madness for every littérateur! Over one lakh people attended the 16th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival last week, which featured sessions by over 500 speakers and artists from around the globe. Here’s a recap of Penguin at JLF 2023!

Pic 1: Visitors pay homage to the festival with heartfelt messages Pic 2: #SPOTTED Namita Gokhale’s The Blind Matriarch finds it’s way to the streets of the Pink City


In the words of Festival Director, Namita Gokhale, “The Jaipur Literature Festival 2023 had an emphasis on translations and shared human narratives. Writers and translators broke beyond the boundaries of language and reached out across cultures and continents.

2023 was truly a vintage year with a stellar range of writers from India and across the world. The audiences were as ever deeply engaged and responsive. Five days of lucid dreaming with intellect and creative imagination at play.”


Pic 1: Children line up to have their copies signed by the iconic Sudha Murty. Pic 2: Bestselling author Durjoy Datta draws massive crowds during his opening session at JLF Day 1.


This year, Penguin presented India’s budding writers with an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime lifetime! The Perfect Pitch is a contest where writers get a chance to pitch their book to a jury of eminent people from the world of publishing.

Five shortlisted authors got to pitch their book to a distinguished panel at JLF with the winner being offered exclusive one-on-one mentorship, for a chance for them to hone their talent and polish their book. The mentors and jury included two editors from Penguin – Elizabeth Kuruvilla and Gurveen Chadha – author of Manjhi’s Mayhem, Tanuj Solanki, and Shreya Punj, also known as The Editor Recommends.

Our winner for the first edition of The Perfect Pitch was Subi Taba.

Pic 3: Meet the Perfect Pitch jury and finalists!


Subi Taba
Subi Taba, the winner of The Perfect Pitch
Subi Taba
Subi Taba being announced the winner of The Perfect Pitch 2023

The icing on the cake for us was to see so many of our debut authors at the festival this year, and the cherry on top? Six of our books made it to the top fifteen bestsellers! 


Penguin authors among the Top 15 Bestsellers at JLF 2023 ?

Energize Your Mind by Gaur Gopal Das

Energize Your Mind
Energize Your Mind || Gaur Gopal Das

Gaur Gopal Das, renowned author and life coach, decodes the mind in this book. He uses anecdotes and analytical studies to educate us how to discipline our minds for higher well-being. He gives engaging activities, meditation techniques, and worksheets throughout the book to help us take control of our minds. 


The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida || Shehan Karunatilaka

Set in Colombo, 1990, Maali Almeida, a war photographer, gambler, and closet gay, has died in what appears to be a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in Beira Lake, and he has no idea who killed him. At a time when scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired thugs, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts who gather around him can attest. Even in the afterlife, Maali’s time is running short. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves the most and lead them to a hidden stockpile of images that will rock Sri Lanka.


The Magic of the Lost Story by Sudha Murty

The Magic of the Lost Story
The Magic of the Lost Story || Sudha Murty

The Magic of the Lost Story, written in India’s favourite storyteller, Sudha Murty’s, distinctive style, captures the value of asking questions and keeping the answers alive. This story takes you on an unforgettable adventure as it follows the gorgeous Tungabhadra River, which is filled with delightful artworks and wondrous terrains.


The Last Heroes by P Sainath

The Last Heroes
The Last Heroes || P. Sainath

The Last Heroes tells the stories of the footsoldiers who fought for Indian independence. The men, women, and children in this book include Adivasis, Dalits, OBCs, Brahmins, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus. They are from all across the country, speak a variety of languages, and include atheists and believers, Leftists, Gandhians, and Ambedkarites.


The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Song of the Cell
The Song of the Cell || Siddhartha Mukherjee

In The Song of the Cell, Siddhartha Mukherjee narrates the tale of how scientists discovered cells, began to comprehend them, and are now using that knowledge to create new humans. He entices readers with writing that is vibrant, lucid, and intriguing, making complex science exciting. The Song of the Cell is a masterwork, told in six sections and filled with Mukherjee’s personal experience as a researcher, clinician, and voracious reader.


Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das

Life’s Amazing Secrets
Life’s Amazing Secrets || Gaur Gopal Das

Gaur Gopal Das is one of the world’s most well-known and sought-after monks and life coaches, having taught millions of people. Life’s Amazing Secrets, his debut book, distils his life experiences and lessons into a light-hearted, thought-provoking book that will help you match yourself with the life you want to live.



Check out our must-read debut authors! ?

Hacking Health by Mukesh Bansal

Hacking Health
Hacking Health || Mukesh Bansal

Mukesh Bansal tackles the monumental challenge of deciphering science, summarizing research, and charting the journey of our relationship with our bodies in Hacking Health. This book draws from ancient wisdom while also debunking unscientific myths to help you make informed choices in pursuit of good health, using a blend of firsthand opinion and cutting-edge science. This book looks into the breadth and depth of holistic health and helps you traverse the lines between science and pseudoscience, from nutrition and exercise to relaxation and immunity, proper nutrition and mental health to ageing and lifespan.


Slow is Beautiful by Gunjan Ahlawat

Slow is Beautiful
Slow is Beautiful || Ahlawat Gunjan

Slow is Beautiful is the opportunity to go on an adventure filled with awareness and contemplation in the form of an exhilarating book. Through the eyes of the author, Ahlawat Gunjan, we get to  perceive, evaluate, contemplate, and apply using artistic abilities developed through years of study to re-ignite a lost inclination. The book urges you to embrace a new aesthetic viewpoint by introducing you to form, colour, and composition. Every one of the sixty simple prompts in this book is an important step that is illustrated by vivid ink and watercolour drawings drawn from nature and created and carefully crafted by the artist himself to inspire readers to draw, erase, paint, experiment, create, and, most importantly, accept their mistakes.


Rethink Ageing by Nidhi Chawla & Reshmi Chakrobarty

Rethink Ageing
Rethink Ageing || Nidhi Chawla & Reshmi Chakrobarty

Rethink Ageing is a montage of significant stories that demonstrate how the narrative of ageing in India is changing. They fight ageism, which is deeply ingrained in Indian culture, with rigid ideals of ‘acceptable’ behaviour. Why should our age prohibit us from pursuing the lives we desire? We live in an ageing community that is adjusting to nuclear families, distant children, and ambiguous social support. To adopt active ageing, the best form of preventative healthcare, urban Indians are negotiating health difficulties, loneliness, and changing social benchmarks. This book offers a comprehensive insight into comprehending ageing, its influence on society, and how to conquer certain ‘obstacles’. We are no longer defined and restricted to our biological age.


I Am Onir and I am Gay by Onir

I Am Onir and I Am Gay
I Am Onir and I Am Gay || Onir

I Am Onir and I Am Gay is a powerful autobiography on addressing and conquering obstacles. This visceral and brutally honest personal story of faith, love, and the pursuit of dreams, co-written with his sister Irene Dhar Malik, is a game changer.


All the Right People by Priyanka Khanna

All the Right People
All the Right People || Priyanka Khanna

Shaan Singh, a Delhi party girl by night and a senior politician’s obedient daughter by day, understands whatever role to play to get her way. She is feisty and highly brilliant, and she has her own political ambitions. How far would she go to keep her freedom if her parents drive her into marriage for strategic reasons? Or will she succumb?

All The Right People is a glittering, whip-smart, and extremely amusing book that takes you into the secret, privileged world of the most wealthy and powerful families in Bombay, Delhi, and London while telling a universal story. Of love, loss, family, friendship, and difficult decisions a nd of women reclaiming control of their lives.


Half Empress by Tripti Pandey

The Half Empress
The Half Empress || Tripti Pandey

Tripti Pandey’s historical novel The Half Empress takes the reader to the regal hallways of nineteenth-century Jaipur and recounts the tale of a magnificent woman who has been deliberately erased from history. Raskapoor, the daughter of a Muslim mother and a Brahmin father, is best remembered today by the guides who often cite her as a celebrity prisoner at the famous Nahargarh Fort, upon whom the Maharaja violated all standards to give the title of ‘Half Empress’.


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 From the Writer’s Desk ft. Rahul Pandita

by Avleen Kaur


To write books that have political blood and bones, in a country like ours, is a brave job that requires hard work. And here’s someone who’s trying to do it right by talking about important issues through deep rooted investigative journalism. We sat down with the incredible Rahul Pandita and discussed both his books, Our Moon Has Blood Clots and Hello, Bastar; the different processes that went behind writing a memoir and an investigative book, and what inspires him to write. 


What prompted you to write Hello, Bastar and what are you trying to say through it?


Hello, Bastar is a labour of many, many years of travel through central and eastern India, in what are widely known as left-wing, extremist-affected districts of India. Most of these travels happened at a time when the editors and intellectuals in Delhi and other bigger cities had very little idea about the movement and how large its future could be. Nobody anticipated how it would consume us in many ways in the following years until our former Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh called it the country’s biggest internal security threat.  

This book is basically about how a handful of young men and women believed in a certain idea of revolution and how they created the modern Naxal movement from the jungles of Bastar in the 1980s. Hello, Bastar is mostly meant for a non-academic reader, for someone who is a student of India and really wants to know what is happening in this part of the country.  


While your previous book, Our Moon Has Blood Clots was a memoir that rose out of personal and community experience, Hello, Bastar is more investigative in nature, made out of reportage and interviews. How different were both the processes? And was the latter more comfortable considering your journalistic background? 


I think Hello, Bastar was a relatively easier book to write because it was largely a part of what I do as a journalist. So, writing this did not feel as hard as the previous book which is part memoir-part reportage of the exodus and torture that happened to a minority community in the Kashmir Valley. That book was more difficult to write because of the personal history involved. And as my editor, Meru might recall that there were times when I had to wait through patches of darkness because of which the book became extremely difficult to write. But during those patches, Meru did handhold me quite a few times during the writing process for which I remain grateful to her.  


Both the books talk about conflicts. Is that something that particularly intrigues you?  


Well, I am a conflict writer. Early on in my career, when I came to Delhi, I made a pact with myself. I vowed that I will not report on things based out of New Delhi because most times when you care about an incident or event, you have a preconceived notion about it. And most times when you actually investigate on the ground level, you are surprised to realize that your preconceived notions about most things were absolutely false. So, the reportage part of Our Moon Has Blood Clots or the entirety of Hello, Bastar has been built out of investigative journeys made through the length and breadth of the country.  


Talking about preconceived notions, there must be a lot of things you would’ve learnt during Hello, Bastar. Was there one thing that particularly shocked you or was a wild revelation? 


Whenever I get a chance to interact with young people, I tell them, ‘I’ve learnt nothing in school or college. Whatever I have learnt of life, I have learnt from Bastar, really.’ I spent weeks and weeks embedded with the Maoist guerillas and Adivasis in the back of beyond and learnt years in days. So, every journey, every day has been replete with some learning. And many of those learnings have left me shocked, surprised and sometimes also thankful that I could travel to these parts and learn so much not only about these people but about life in general. 


And was it difficult reaching out to a community you don’t belong to? Were you apprehensive? Were they apprehensive in sharing their life and story with you?  


So again, I think this is a part of a larger problem which Indian journalism suffers from. Where journalists are just paradropped at some place because of a particular incident and they spend a couple of days there, piggybacking on the previous work of stringers or local resource persons and later on claim to understand everything about that area. In the past, I have typically called it ‘clean-bedsheet journalism’ where you leave for a small town in the morning and make sure that you come back to the small hotel by the evening. But that’s not how things work, at least in Bastar.  

You have to spend a lot of time in Bastar to understand its reality. When you’re travelling in the village during the day, you might come across an ordinary Adivasi at the roadside tea shop. Later, you find out that he is a Naxal Guerilla. But that is not something you will know if you just have tea there and proceed back to your station. Conflict zones are like snake pits, you don’t know who is who until you familiarize yourself to the place. 

Also, it takes a lot of time for people to open up about their story. There were times when we were embedded with Maoist groups of men and women, where young women especially would really shy away and not talk at all. But after spending some days with them and talking to them, telling them you mean well, that you’re there to know their story and make them comfortable – they open up. And that again, is unfortunately not possible when you’re there for a day or two.  

Once an author wrote that he spent a lot of time in Bastar but didn’t meet a single Naxal there. I remember joking about it and commenting that Naxals are not like Coca-Cola or Haldiram Bhujia. If you go inside villages, the penetration of Haldiram Bhujia is immense. But that’s not how Naxals are to be found. You have to spend a lot of time there before they let you in. 


Does the fear of backlash or controversy of writing about sensitive subjects govern your writing in some way? 


I think both my books with Penguin India prove the fact that I really don’t care about labels. In the past, I have been called a specialist of this and that and I refute those claims completely. I am just a student of India. Even my twitter bio says that. I came to journalism because I had jigyaasa, the intellectual curiosity about the things I saw around me and I wanted to explore their reality. So, my modus operandi is simple. If I’m intrigued about something and want to seek answers, I seek them for myself first before seeking them on behalf of anyone else. And that has pretty much guided my reporting from anywhere in India. So, I’m not really into what is fashionable to say and what isn’t. I say what I see and I try to write passionately about it.  


Do you have a particular target audience in mind when you write a book? Do you think Our Moon Has Blood Clots reached the right audience, considering the current political climate of the country? 


I think I am glad that Our Moon Has Blood Clots came out when our country’s politics was slightly simpler than this. My understanding of writing is very simple. I am a firm believer of the fact that your writing should be accessible to the last man down. So, there are many people who write to me saying that we have very scant understanding of English but they were able to read my book and I consider that my strength. I also think Indian journalists often miss out on the element of storytelling. So, when I write my books, I consider them an extension of my journalism. What I really want to do is to give the feel, colour and sound of the place and people I am talking about and that comes only when you have a basic understanding of storytelling. So I think these two parameters are personally very important to me.  


Politics shape every individual, especially a writer. And you, quite directly, write about overtly political issues. Considering that pen is mightier than the sword and books have the power to shape individuals, do you feel a heavy responsibility while writing?  


Yes, there’s a responsibility about what you’re writing.  

But again, like I said, you should not worry about labels. What you see, you see to the best of your ability. We’ve just come to this terrible and ugly situation where everything is reduced to the binary of left and right. Everyone has this pressing need to put everyone in a basket. I would not like to be in any basket. I hate this basket system. Personally, I give a lot of leeway to people. Most things around our universe are not black and white. They are shades of grey. There is a subtle nuance about everything. Who are we at the end of the day? We are the sum total of our experiences. Our politics is also shaped by what we have gone through as individuals. So, you should always keep that in mind before you accuse someone of being an urban Naxal or a closet Sanghi or any other such labels.  


Lastly, do you think there is a possibility of an endeavor where Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims could come together to share their respective points of view regarding the 1990s in the shape of a book or an art piece together?  


That’s an ideal situation. But for that to happen, the Kashmiri society from both sides has to meet somewhere. Unfortunately, we are not there right now. To begin with, the idea of reconciliation has to come from the majority in many ways. There has to be an acknowledgement about what happened in the 1990s. To the best of my knowledge, there is very little collective acknowledgement. In a private space, what a Kashmiri Pandit says to a Kashmiri Muslim doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things. What you say collectively as a debate matters, which will then find expression in writing, art and theatre. I think some work here and there gets done. My friend, M.K. Raina is an eminent theatre personality and he tries to perform initiatives like these. There are plays in which both Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims have participated. And you will find a microcosm of this in things such as weddings sometimes. There’ll be a Kashmiri Pandit wedding and a Kashmiri Muslim singer will be performing there and everyone will be nostalgic about olden times. But these events are far and few and come from a personal space. But in terms of society at a larger level, these efforts are largely missing.  






If you’re intrigued to read Rahul Pandita’s works, you can get your copy of Our Moon Has Blood Clots and Hello, Bastar at your nearest bookstore or through Amazon.  






New Delhi, 8 December 2022: The leading publishing house in India, Penguin Random House India, marks its 35th year in India with the launch of a one-of-a-kind platform to discover and mentor emerging writers from the country, in association with the world’s largest literary festival, the Jaipur Literature Festival. Titled The Perfect Pitch, it is a mentorship initiative to scout for the best pitch for unpublished, submission-ready work by aspiring writers and storytellers, where the candidates can win an opportunity to be guided by experts in publishing and the literary world and polish their pitch. The Editor Recommends, a fast-growing, popular literary social media influencer, comes on board as a knowledge partner for this programme.

Aspiring writers from all over the country are invited to present the pitch of their finished manuscripts to a jury panel made up of editors, literary experts, and notable authors. Call for entries opens today, 7 December, and closes on 25 December. Criteria and guidelines are listed in the annexure. The finalists will be invited to Jaipur Literature Festival 2023 to present their pitches to the esteemed jury and in front of an audience in an exclusive session. Jaipur Literature Festival is scheduled from 19 January to 23 January.

The writer with the best pitch will be awarded an opportunity to be mentored in one-on-one sessions with experienced editors from Penguin who have commissioned best-selling and award-winning works, an acclaimed author who has published with Penguin and Shreya Punj, also known as The Editor Recommends. The winner’s work will also be considered for a book deal with Penguin, should it meet the publishing house’s requirements.

Speaking about this partnership, Natasha Kapur, Senior Vice-President, Marketing, Penguin Random House India says, “Penguin and Jaipur Literature Festival have a longstanding association with common aspirations to make reading, books and authors accessible. On the occasion of Penguin’s 35th anniversary in India, we join hands with Jaipur Literature Festival to present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to India’s budding writers with a chance to pitch their book to an eminent jury of editors and authors in front of an audience of potential readers. As a publisher, we aim to discover and promote the best of Indian writing and with Jaipur Literature Festival we get the chance to bring together all elements of the literary community under one


roof- the writers, the readers, and the editors, and celebrate India’s vibrant and burgeoning literary culture.”

Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, It’s a delight for the Jaipur Literature Festival to partner with Penguin in creating a space for writers, thinkers, speakers and humanitarians. Through this initiative, we aim to bridge the gap between the unpublished authors and renowned figures in the field of publishing.”


The Perfect Pitch: A mentorship initiative by Penguin and Jaipur Literature Festival

To discover and support new literary talent, The Perfect Pitch is an opportunity of a lifetime for India’s budding authors. It is a programme where writers get a chance to pitch their book to a jury of eminent people from the world of publishing.

Criteria: Who can apply

  • The competition is open to entrants over 18 years of age residing in India.
  • The contenders should have an unpublished, complete manuscript.

Guidelines: How to apply

  • Please register-
  • There is a registration fee is Rs 500 per entry. Please make payment here-
  • You can only submit one pitch per registration and only one book idea per document.
  • The deadline to complete your entry is 11:59 PM IST, 25 December. Entries will not be accepted after this

Key Dates:

7 December 2022Open for entries
25 December 2022Closed for entries
13 January 2023Announcing the finalists
23 January 2023The Perfect Pitch session at Jaipur Literature Festival



  • Winner will get 5 one on one sessions, one each with the two editors of Penguin, two sessions with Shreya Punj, also known as The Editor Recommends, and one with the author from the jury.
  • A chance to win a book deal with Penguin, should the written work fulfil Penguin’s publishing requirements and criteria.


Terms & Conditions

“Perfect Pitch Contest”

These terms, conditions and guidelines (‘Terms’) are applicable to and govern the “Perfect Pitch Contest” (“Contest”) organized and conducted by Penguin Random House India Private Limited (‘PRHI’/We) along with its knowledge partner, The Editor Recommends (“TER”), as part of the events connected with the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2023 to be held in Jaipur, India in January 2023 (“JLF”).

By participating in the Contest you agree to have read, understood and accepted the following terms:

  1. PRHI reserves the right to modify these Terms without any prior notification. You are advised to regularly review these Terms. If you do not agree with any of the Terms and any amendments thereto, you must not participate in this Contest. Participation is voluntary and optional.
  1. This is a call for entries, asking individuals to submit their pitch for a book idea by registering on RazorPay at The registration fee is Rs 500. Once registered, the individual will be redirected to a Google Form. The individual will need to fill out the form and add a link to the reel posted on Instagram as indicated on the Google Form.
  1. Five (5) Shortlisted entries will be selected from all the valid entries received during the Contest Period and the corresponding shortlisted participants (“Shortlisted Writers”) will be eligible to pitch their book to a distinguished jury (“Jury”) at JLF. The Shortlisted Writers will also get a chance to attend JLF and their travel and stay for the concerned dates of the pitch will be paid for.  The Jury will choose a winning participant (“Winner”) from amongst Shortlisted Writers. The Winner will get the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentorship sessions with The Editor Recommends, a senior editor from PRHI and an author published by PRHI (“Prize”).
  2. You are invited to submit your entry between 7 December 2022 and 25 December 2022 (both days inclusive) (“Contest Period”). Shortlisted Writers will receive an email with further instructions. PRHI will announce the Shortlisted Writers on 13 January 2023 via email and their social media handles.
  3. Please note multiple submissions are not allowed. Further, you are permitted only one pitch per registration and one book idea per pitch. Entries once submitted cannot be withdrawn.
  4. The Contest is open only to Indian Citizens residing in India, who are at least 18 years of age or older on the date of participating in the contest. If the entry is received from a person below 18 years of age, the same will be disqualified.


  1. Before being announced and eligible to pitch their book idea before the Jury at JLF, each of the Shortlisted Writers must further submit full details of their name, permanent address, copy of Aadhar Card phone number, age, photo, video and any other details, documents/ materials as may be prescribed by PRHI. It is to be understood that Shortlists Writers will be eligible to pitch their book idea before the Jury at JLF only upon the furnishing of the prescribed details and documents/ materials. Any information found to be incomplete, false or misleading shall result in automatic disqualification of the participant. The personal information provided by the participant/s will be saved/ stored with PRHI for the purpose of completion of the Contest.
  2. You hereby expressly consent to share personal data including your name, age, email address, postal address, Aadhar details, photograph, and video with PRHI and TER for the purposes of this Contest. Further, you consent to PRHI storing and using details regarding your name, age, and email address for purposes other than the Contest, such as for marketing and promotional purposes. You understand and agree that personal data shared with PRHI and TER may be required to be processed on computer systems hosted outside the territorial jurisdiction of India and that the same is necessary as per PRHI’s and TER’s respective protocols required for maintaining transparency and security and are further necessary for PRHI and TER to fulfill its obligations under this Contest. “Processing of personal data”, means an operation or set of operations performed on personal data, and may include operations such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation, alteration, retrieval, use, alignment or combination, indexing, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, restriction, erasure or destruction.
  3. By participating in this Contest, you grant PRHI permission to use your name, photographs, videos and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes in connection with the Contest, without additional compensations across all means, media and technology known now or invented hereinafter. The Winner agrees that the footage of any nature with regard to the Winner(s) shall vest with PRHI including but not limited to all intellectual property rights and any other rights worldwide and in perpetuity.
  4. We take no responsibility for entries that are lost, delayed, misdirected or incomplete or cannot be delivered or entered for any technical or other reason. Sending an email/ direct message on a social media handle is not proof that we have received your entry. Also, entries sent in any mode except for the modes specifically provided for shall be deemed to be invalid/ not received.
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The Muslim Vanishes: Penguin India’s first-ever audio play

Lights! Camera! Action! … And back to Ghalib’s era!

We know the shayar in you would love a theatrical reading of this amazing book sliding seamlessly into different worlds—history, fantasy, and poetry. So, plug in your earphones and tune into Penguin India’s first-ever audio play ‘The Muslim Vanishes’ and unwind.


Audio play: The Muslim Vanishes
The Muslim Vanishes || Saeed Naqvi

The great poet Ghalib, part of a long tradition of eclectic liberalism, found Benaras so compelling that he wrote his longest poem on the holy city. If we take Ghalib and his myriads of followers out of the equation, will Hindustan be left with a gaping hole or become something quite new? The Muslim Vanishes, a play by Saeed Naqvi, attempts to answer that question.

A Muslim-free India, as a character speculates naively in the play, would be good for socialism, since what the 200 million Muslims leave behind would be equitably shared by the general population. Meanwhile, another character, a political leader, is traumatized by the sudden disappearance of the Muslim voter base and the prospect of a direct electoral confrontation with the numerically stronger Dalits and other backward classes. Caste, the Hindu-Muslim divide, Pakistan and Kashmir—the decibel levels on these subjects are too high for a conversation to take place, with each side fiercely defending their own narrative. What is the way out of this trap?

How to douse the social and political flames? In this razor-sharp, gentle and funny play, Saeed Naqvi draws on a mix of influences—from grandma’s bedtime stories to Aesop’s fables and Mullah Nasruddin’s satirical tales—to spring an inspired surprise on us, taking us on a journey into the realms of both history and fantasy.


You can listen to this audio play on Audible and Google Play.

Books longlisted for Tata Literature Live! 2022

We take sheer pride every time our books get recognition for their brilliance. The following books made it to the longlist of Mumbai’s largest international literary festival, Tata Literature Live!, and we couldn’t be happier to share them with you.

Wondering what’s special about them?

Find out for yourself!

Tata Literature Live! 2022

Book of the Year Award for Fiction

recognising noteworthy work in the Indian literary space in the fiction genre
Tell Me How to Be
Tell Me How to Be || Neel Patel


Renu Amin always seemed perfect: doting husband, beautiful house, healthy sons. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, Renu is binge-watching soap operas and simmering with old resentments. She can’t stop wondering if, thirty-five years ago, she chose the wrong life. In Los Angeles, her son, Akash, has everything he ever wanted, but as he tries to kickstart his songwriting career and commit to his boyfriend, he is haunted by the painful memories he fled a decade ago. When his mother tells him she is selling the family home, Akash returns to Illinois, hoping to finally say goodbye and move on.

Together, Renu and Akash pack up the house, retreating further into the secrets that stand between them. Renu sends an innocent Facebook message to the man she almost married, sparking an emotional affair that calls into question everything she thought she knew about herself. Akash slips back into bad habits as he confronts his darkest secrets-including what really happened between him and the first boy who broke his heart.



Business Book of the Year Award

recognising the best business writing in the Indian literary space
Harsh Realities
Harsh Realities || Harsh Mariwala, Ram Charan


Breaking away from the shackles of family-run Bombay Oils Industries Ltd, Harsh Mariwala founded Marico in 1987. Today, the homegrown Marico is a leading international FMCG giant which recorded an annual turnover of over Rs 8000 crore last year. Their products, like Parachute, Nihar Naturals, Saffola, Set Wet, Livon and Mediker, are market leaders in their categories.

This is the story of grit, gumption and growth, and of the core values of trust, transparency and innovation which have brought the company to its current stature. Co-authored by leading management thinker and guru Ram Charan, Harsh Realities is a much-awaited business book by an innovative and clear-headed leader who built a highly professional, competitive business from the ground up.




First Book Award for Fiction

recognising new talent in the Indian literary space in the fiction genre
The Muslim Vanishes
The Muslim Vanishes || Saeed Naqvi

The great poet Ghalib, part of a long tradition of eclectic liberalism, found Benaras so compelling that he wrote his longest poem on the holy city. If we take Ghalib and his myriads of followers out of the equation, will Hindustan be left with a gaping hole or become something quite new? The Muslim Vanishes, a play by Saeed Naqvi, attempts to answer that question.

A Muslim-free India, as a character speculates naively in the play, would be good for socialism, since what the 200 million Muslims leave behind would be equitably shared by the general population. Meanwhile, another character, a political leader, is traumatized by the sudden disappearance of the Muslim voter base and the prospect of a direct electoral confrontation with the numerically stronger Dalits and other backward classes.

In this razor-sharp, gentle and funny play, Saeed Naqvi draws on a mix of influences-from grandma’s bedtime stories to Aesop’s fables and Mullah Nasruddin’s satirical tales-to spring an inspired surprise on us, taking us on a journey into the realms of both history and fantasy.



The winners of the Tata Literature Live! 2022 Awards will be announced at the festival. Stay tuned!

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