Writing the World: South Asia
By Shaniah Shields, Christina Moore and Jia Wen Ho
In the second instalment of Writing the World, we will be covering publishers and writers in South Asia. Though publishing landscapes of these countries vary, South Asia’s bookish community is growing with more writers, especially female writers emerging alongside a greater interest for local stories that reflect readers’ own lives. Publishing in South Asia will only continue to get bigger.
Perera-Hussein Publishing House
Based in Colombo, this Sri Lankan publishing house has gained an international reputation for books. They publish a wide range of genres, including but not limited to, children’s, YA, memoirs and poetry. Formed in 2003, Perera-Hussein encourages authors who will “inspire, provoke and entertain.” Their books are distributed in Sri Lanka, Australia, Singapore and many more via online sales. You can keep up to date with them over on their blog.
Wasana Publishing House
Established in 1984, children’s publishers Wasana have gained recognition among teachers, children and readers in Sri Lanka. School teachers write the school curriculum-bound books which range from pre-school to an advanced level. Their story books are also available in three languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English.
Nepal Mandala Book Shop
Although the publishing landscape in Nepal is limited, it is growing and more books are being made available. The Nepal Mandala Book Shop is one of the largest book distributors in the country, having existed “as a tiny island of peace in a fast-moving world” since 1991. They aim to create the largest community of book readers in Nepal and offer a big variety of genres in many languages including but not limited to Nepali, Hindi and Japanese.
This independent publishing house was formed in 1994 by Gita Wolf. Their books are distributed in India, online and in the US, UK, Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia. They have won several prestigious awards including the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher in Asia, 2013.
Founded in 2002 by Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agarwal, Cyberwit.net specialises in poetry and seeks to “publish excellent works of poetry that are unlikely to find a home elsewhere.” With a range of authors and poets including Dr. Santosh Kumar and founder Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agarwal, Cyberwit.net publishes several titles per year with a mission to promote poetry for peace and friendship, strengthen interest in poetry and the creative arts in an era of scientific advancement and technological sophistication, and publish diverse trends of contemporary creative writing worldwide.
Talika Books is the brainchild of Radhika Menon. Founded in 1996, this publishing house specialises in picture books for children written in English and other Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Bengali to name a few. Talika Books features a range of inclusive characters and experiences.
Shah M Book Co.
Founded in 1974 by Shah Muhammed Rais, Shah M Book Co. in Kabul is both a publisher and the largest dealer of books in Afghanistan, offering over 2,000 titles and a research library of over 17,000 titles of books about Afghanistan in a range of different languages.
Although Bhutan is a small country, they have a vibrant writing community and a plethora of written works. BOOKNESE is a non-profit online bookstore that seeks to catalogue and showcase every single book authored by Bhutanese writers, bringing booklovers and authors together. There are so many genres to choose from in both fiction and non-fiction. Some popular books include PaSsu Diary: A Journal of an Ordinary Bhutanese by Passang Tshering and Dawa: The Story of a Stray Dog in Bhutan by Kunzang Choden, detailing a stray dog’s extraordinary life on the streets of Thimpu, Bhutan’s capital city.
Worthy Publication was started by a sibling duo, Nuzaimul Hoq Xishan and Kasfia Haque Samara, who wanted to give a platform for many young aspiring writers in Bangladesh. The books they publish have eye-catching and beautifully designed covers. They also have a bookstore called Worthy Books, selling their locally published titles as well as foreign titles. One of their recently published works is The Roles We Play by Manoshi Sarkar, a novelette exploring sexist norms and gender discrimination.
Based in Karachi, Pakistan, Bina Shah is an author, journalist and feminist. She has written five novels and two collections of short stories. Her books have been translated to German, French, Spanish and Italian. Her most recent novel, Before She Sleeps, is a dystopian story showing the repression of women.
Noor Unnahar is a Pakistani poet, her debut poetry collection yesterday i was the moon, is about finding voice, love and emotional loss. She has also created an aesthetic poetry journal encouraging budding poets to explore their writing styles.