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India’s First Graphic Novel Gets U.S. Release

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May 2005
India’s First Graphic Novel Gets U.S. Release

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CORRIDOR by Sarnath Banerjee

Penguin Global, 2005. Paperback, 112 pages.

A novel way of writing serious novels for adults involves the artful combination of narrative text and illustrations in the style of comic books. These so-called graphic novels have become increasingly popular, and now India's first such book, Corridor, is being released in the States this month. The story revolves around Rangoonwalla, a used bookstore owner and amateur philosopher in Delhi, and a distinctive cast of characters with names like D.V.D. Murthy, a poetry-loving forensic expert, and Digital Dutta, a Kolkatan who's drawn to both Karl Marx and an H1-B visa. Trained in image and communication at the University of London, Banerjee seems equally comfortable as an illustrator and writer. The novel, according to the publisher, captures the alienation and fragmented reality of urban life through an imaginative alchemy of image and text. And as Outlook magazine points out, "Banerjee's work highlights the growing relevance of comic books as a legit literary medium, moving beyond its traditional roles of humor, action, fantasy."

Official Newsletter For India-Watchers

Anybody who's interested in the official version of current affairs can turn to a slick newsletter that's being issued every month by the Embassy of India in Washington D.C. Launched both electronically and as a print publication in January this year, India Review attempts to attract a wider readership with color photographs and concise sections such as USA News, India News, Media Watch, and Economy. The informative pieces in the Travel section dwell not only on major destinations but also on little-known places like Palampur in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Focus deals with exclusive interviews, whereas Home Page is reserved for Ambassador Sen's column. The newsletter was started, as he put it, "in order to keep friends of India informed of developments in our country, in our bilateral relations with the U.S., and in India's foreign and defense policies?" and "to disseminate news and views about India." For more information, go to www.indianembassy.org

Resmi Senan Bags Top Photography Prize

The United Nations Environment Programme's recently held 4th International Photographic Competition, which reportedly attracted 32,000 entries from 170 countries, coincided with the 60th anniversary of the U.N. this year. Sponsored by Cannon, the contest's theme was appropriately titled ?Focus on Your World'. India-based Resmi Chandra Senen won the Gold Medal (worth $20,000) in the general category for a portrait of deer called ?Wildlife Refugees'. The awards ceremony was held at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, and this fall all the winning entries will be part of a traveling exhibit. "The photo of several deer scavenging through the garbage dump, jostling for the contents of a plastic bag, really forces us to think long and hard about humanity's impact on the environment," noted the judging panel. Senan added, "Nature is the greatest motif for me, always."

Guggenheim Fellowship For Five Indians

Speaking of awards, acclaimed authors Rohinton Mistry and Pico Iyer along with three Indian-American scholars were chosen as Guggenheim Fellows this year. Canada-based Mistry won in the fiction category, and the well-traveled Iyer ? partly based in Japan ? was cited for his nonfiction. Meenakshi Wadhwa, who's a curator of Meteoritics at the Field Museum in Chicago, was awarded for her successful analysis of solar wind retuned by the Genesis aircraft. Santosh Srinivas Vempala and Madhu Sudan, professors of computer science at MIT in Boston, were the other two winners. Their areas of expertise are algorithmic convex geometry (Vempala) and algebraic methods in error-corrections (Sudan). The 186 Fellows, selected from a total of 3000 applicants, shared $7.12 million. "What distinguishes the Guggenheim Fellowship program from all others is the wide range in interest, age, geography, and institution of those it selects as it considers applicants in 79 fields from the natural sciences to the creative arts," according to the New York-based Foundation, which was set by former Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife in memory of their son.

- Compiled by Murali Kamma


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