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Off the Shelf

Off the Shelf

  • Author: Sridhar Balan
  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger
  • ISBN: 9789389231854
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Drawing upon years of reading and a long career in publishing, Sridhar Balan gives us stories and facts about some extraordinary people and places related to books. There are accounts of Dean Mahomed, the first Indian author in English, and E.V. Rieu, who set up Oxford University Press in Bombay and later initiated the Penguin classics series, translating Homer’s Odyssey even as bombs fell around him in London. There are anecdotes about Roy Hawkins—‘Hawk’—who laid the foundation for some fine publishing at your, and Ravi Dayal, who carried on hawk’s legacy and made your India’s foremost academic publisher. The remarkable career of Ram Advani, the legendary bookseller of Lucknow, is sketched along with that of Dhanesh Jain, an academic who manufactured buttons before he found his true calling and established Ratna Sagar, a pioneer in text-book publishing. Along the way, Balan gives us delightful accounts of the launch of Jim corbett's Man-eaters of Kumaon in New York and Salim Ali’s the Handbook of Indian Birds at Indira Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi; describes a memorable meeting between Andre Malraux and Nehru in Paris; and reveals how a nun was persuaded to buy an erotic novel at Delhi’s World Book Fair. In between, he also recalls an intimate, welcoming showroom for books, of the kind that can no longer exist; and tells us of the amazing histories of libraries like the bibliotheca alexandrina and the ‘library of rescued books’ in Bogota established by a trash collector. Nostalgic, witty and full of fascinating information and memories, Off the Shelf will delight every book lover.

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